Huntley eyes commercial development as land heads for auction

HUNTLEY – About 25 acres of commercial real estate will soon be on the auctioning block, nearly five years after the economic recession derailed a developer's Huntley shopping center plans and forced a mortgage foreclosure.

McHenry County Judge Thomas Meyer last week set a public auction for March 14 that would award the highest bidder 26 acres of vacant land at the northeast corner of Route 47 and Reed Road in Huntley.
Village officials have always eyed the land as prime commercial real estate dating to 2001, when they annexed the property into Huntley's limits.

With the economy slowly recovering, officials believe that a retail outlet has a better chance at success than the development board members approved at the location during the height of the economic downturn in March 2008.

"It's an important parcel in the village, and we anticipate whoever buys it will be in communication with us," Village Manager Dave Johnson told the Northwest Herald. "It remains in our comprehensive plan as a commercial property. That was the vision [in 2001], and that remains the vision."

Circumstances also have changed for Huntley since 2001. Officials didn't know then that the 26 vacant acres at Route 47 and Reed Road would be located roughly a mile west of Centegra Health System's proposed Huntley hospital.

Centegra plans on breaking ground on the hospital, located near Haligus and Algonquin roads, next month after initially announcing its intentions to add a hospital nearly three years ago.

Aside from retail, the empty land could eventually house medical office buildings, Johnson said.

"When we annexed that property, we didn't know that a hospital would be coming ... We certainly see it as a viable corner to the community," he said.

Officials recognized that viability in 2008, when the Rosati Group proposed a 26-acre shopping center at the prominent intersection. The development included a Walgreens, a big-box retailer, a restaurant and future projects.

But the recession hit, and the project struggled to start, Johnson said. Developers managed to build the Walgreens, but the pharmacy is the only business that exists at the corner.

The former Midwest Bank & Trust Company filed a mortgage foreclosure against the developers in September 2009, and the process has since worked its way through the courts.

"We worked long and hard to get that Walgreens open before the world decided to turn over," Johnson said. "We've known for quite some time that property would end up in the state that it has."

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