Hoffman Estates planners endorse rezoning AT&T site so it can become a full community

Hoffman Estates planning & zoning commissioners Wednesday unanimously recommended the rezoning of the former AT&T campus to facilitate its redevelopment into a self-contained community of offices, stores, restaurants, entertainment venues, apartments and townhouses.

Such a rezoning - which village board members will consider Monday - was requested by the developer as a necessary next step to buy the 150 acres from their current owner.

While the property was once worth $338 million, it's probably worth less than 10 percent of that in the current market with its current zoning, said Larry Woodard, attorney for the developer.

But the rezoning to a commercial/mixed-use classification would be contingent on New Jersey-based Somerset Development closing on the property within 180 days of the village board's approval.

This zoning classification was originally created for the proposed Plum Farms development of 185 acres at the northwest corner of routes 59 and 72. But that project is still being considered and the land hasn't been rezoned yet, said Peter Gugliotta, Hoffman Estates' director of planning, zoning and code enforcement.

Because this new zoning didn't envision a building the height of the AT&T offices, a variation is also recommended to avoid being immediately out of compliance.

"We're very comfortable with this proposal," Gugliotta told commissioners.

Barrington Unit District 220 officials have expressed cautious optimism about the plan so far, but school board President Brian Battle said there is not yet a detailed plan or anything in the proposed zoning that spells out whether the additional tax revenue the district would receive would outweigh the costs of the additional students.

"Our concerns are that whatever the development is, the appropriated accommodations are made for schools," Battle said.

District 220 board Vice President Penny Kazmier said that based on Hoffman Estates' own methodology, 100 to 125 school-age kids could live in the housing units proposed.

Somerset Development President Ralph Zucker said he preferred to make such estimates after drafting a more detailed site plan but didn't believe the number of students would be significant.

The concept plan calls for 1.2 million square feet of offices, 60,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and 80,000 square feet of conference space in the existing buildings on the campus.

New construction would add 379 apartments, 171 townhouses and a hotel.

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Bell Works, a massive redevelopment of the former Bell Labs building in Holmdel, New Jersey, could be the model for a similar remaking of the shuttered AT&T corporate campus in Hoffman Estates. Courtesy of Somerset Development
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