Huntley maps out new plan for growth

If you’ve been impressed by the Village of Huntley’s growth and expansion in the last 20 years, you haven’t seen anything yet.

Through the luck of good location and visionary expansion, the village has become a major commercial and industrial player in Chicago’s northwest suburban area. Huntley is home to the largest seniors-only subdivision in the urban area, more than a half-dozen international companies, is the headquarters of one of the nation’s largest grill and outdoor cooking manufacturers, is home to a major new regional hospital, and is positioning itself as one of the area’s largest healthcare and senior service communities. Its population has soared from 2,500 in 1998 to more than 27,000 today.

Officials hope that it will transform the area around the newly expanded I-90 interchange into a modern, busy commercial destination.

The gateway area stretches from Powers Road and the Route 47 corridor on the north and east, Big Timber Road on the south, and Hennig Road on the west.

Along with consultant Houseal Lavigne Associates of Chicago, the village envisions transforming about 3,000 acres of land into a multi-faceted gateway that both invites and attracts visitors into the community and is a destination all by itself.

This plan’s development started in May of this year. It is the result of years of quiet vision and planning, and annexation of properties that are fed by a major interstate highway that already is attracting interest from companies in Europe and Asia.

On September 21, village officials played host to an open house at the village hall, where detailed information on the gateway’s vision were distributed informally. Once approved by village officials later this fall and vetted by village and Sun City residents, the plan will be formally adopted by the village board as an amendment to the village’s 2002 comprehensive plan.

“This plan is a direct response to the recent proliferation of commercial and industrial development in this area of the village, the completion of the full-access I-90 interchange in 2013, and the expiration of annexation agreements for certain properties,” the plan documents say.

Charles Nordman, the village’s director of development services, said the village has annexed several properties along both Route 47 and I-90 tollway in recent years.

“It is typical for the municipality and the property owners to enter into an annexation agreements,” said Norman. The agreements are limited by state law to a period of 20 years. Now, we are ready to put these agreements into action and develop this land.”

In a brochure defining the plan, the village said, “We have expressed the desire for organized compatible development in this area that encompasses a mix of commercial uses to ensure the long-term vitality of not only the gateway area but also the continued prosperity of the entire village.”

Once approved, the village and Houseal Lavigne will market the plan to developers and businesses.

“The plan is a guide for future land use and development, and will ultimately provide a framework for adopting regulatory tools, such as zoning and subdivision regulations,” according to plan documents.

Most of the gateway area is open space. Developments in the area so far include the Village Green shopping center, General RV and a Ford car dealership along Route 47, the recently vacated outlet center, Weber Grill’s new 775,000-square feet distribution center, and the newly opened Advocate Healthcare immediate care center on the west side of the I90-47 intersection. The southeast corner of Sun City, consisting of Neighborhoods 32A and 32B, are located within the Route 47 corridor portion of the Gateway area.

It is unclear how this plan will impact the pending Horizon retail development proposed for the northwest corner of Dhamer Drive and Route 47, immediately south of Sun City, which is located within the proposed gateway area.

The plan envisions continued mixed retail development along the Route 47corridor, along with financial, food service, and health care establishments, shopping centers, restaurants, cafes, national retailers and big-box stores, and entertainment facilities such as bowling alleys and movie theaters, business parks offices, light industrial facilities and distribution centers, recreational facilities, and possibly a hotel.

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