New commercial and industrial real estate projects approved, in process and completed in late 2012 and 2013 seemed to bolster the notion that the economy is slowly starting to come back. I contacted each municipality in McHenry County to ask for their most significant projects over the past 18 months or so in terms of building size, sales tax revenue generated and/or number of new employees. Below is an overview of some of the additions to our economic fabric in McHenry County during the period in question:
• Algonquin: Only one new construction project at 1020-28 S. Randall Road, 11,000 square feet of retail space to be completed next month and occupied by Kay Jewelers and Sleepy’ Mattress. Also a new downtown Planning Study was adopted highlighting potential recreational uses of the river as a way to draw more people to the downtown area.
• Cary: Not much new construction, but the village welcomed 18 new businesses occupying about 155,000 square feet of previously vacant commercial, office and industrial space. New key businesses include Technipaq, Cugino’s Gourmet Foods, Chirch Global and Pulsar Products.
• Crystal Lake: Pegged 2013 as the “Year of the Small Biz” as they welcomed 78 new small businesses with less than 10 employees that generated 529 new jobs and filled up 454,756 square feet of space. A remarkable pro-business attitude has brought companies like Texas Roadhouse (opening this month), Anderson Volkswagen (opening this spring), Crystal Lake Beer Co. (opening this summer) and National Gift Card (coming this spring).
• Fox River Grove: Welcomed VCA Noyes Animal Clinic, which moved up the road from Lake Barrington and brought about 15 employees.
• Harvard: Reported no new construction but welcomed Prodige Processing in a 45,000 square-foot warehouse and have issued permits to Casey’s General Store (5,000 square feet) and O’Reilly’s Auto Parts (4,500 square feet) for this spring.
• Huntley: Completion of the $69 million interchange at Route 47 and I-90 has paved the way to a significant uptick in activity. Lionheart Engineering built a 23,800-square-foot building where it employs 40 people. RPS Products bought a 65,000-square-foot vacant Dean Foods building on Smith Drive and employs more than 50 people. A $21.1 million, 128-unit Deer Path Supportive Living Facility opened last summer. Cargo Equipment is building a 40,000-square-foot building in the Huntley Corporate Park. Brunch Café and Aldi’s are under construction. A 128-bed Centegra Hospital was approved with a 2016 planned opening. Lots happening here.
• Johnsburg: Approved a 17,000-square-foot retail strip on Route 31 (Rose Plaza) and a Murphy’s Gas and Convenience Store and added at least 18 new businesses to the Route 31 corridor, downtown and Prairie Commerce Center.
• Lake in the Hills: A proactive economic development campaign helped foster a new 4,200-square-foot gas/convenience station on Algonquin Road with a car wash soon to follow. A 92-unit senior housing project opened in 2012, and the developer is now proposing a 60-unit apartment project. The AMC theater did a $2.2 million renovation.
• Lakemoor: A newly initiated community and economic development program netted the grand opening of Walgreens. A new Comprehensive Plan bodes good things for Lakemoor’s future.
• McHenry: A free-standing O’Reilly’s Auto Parts opened on Route 120 plus a 2,100-square-foot building that will house AAACE Automotive is ready to open. An 8,926-square-foot multi-tenant retail building with a Buffalo Wild Wings just opened next to Olive Garden. A microbrewery opened on Pearl Street. McHenry now has three McDonald’s restaurants that were recently built or renovated. Several other businesses filled up vacant retail space, including Torrid (23,800 square feet).
• Marengo: Sullivan’s Grocery opened in a 37,000-square-foot retail center on Route 20 which has room for an additional 6,000 square feet of retail. It appears that discussions about an eventual interchange at Route 23 and I-90 are getting more serious, which could change the complexion of Marengo in the future.
• Oakwood Hills: Announced in December, the sale of Chalet Hills Golf Course to a private party (Leli Zhow Company) that will lease the course to Zero Point Consulting. The reported sale price was $1,550,000.
• Prairie Grove: A 2-story 5,225-square-foot indoor/outdoor golf facility called Golf Academy at Terra Cotta opened recently. Under construction at Route 176 and Valley View is a car wash with retail stores and fast food place totaling 12,350 square feet.
• Ringwood: An upscale day care called Nature’s Scholars is under construction on Route 31. It is scheduled to open in late spring.
• Spring Grove: Opened a new McDonald’s with anticipated sales of $2 million to $2.5 million. Approved an 86,730 square-foot manufacturing addition for Scot Forge. At least a dozen businesses on the Route 12 corridor and around town opened and filled vacant spots.
• Woodstock: Opened Panera Bread and Advance Auto in late 2012. The Woodstock Theatre off the Square is undergoing a complete restoration plus an expansion that will house six of eight total screens.
When we look at the McHenry County market from a big-picture perspective, it lags behind areas to the east and south. New construction projects are likely to pick up this year, and much of the previously vacant retail, office and industrial space is likely to be absorbed. As a result, prices and lease rates should start to make a comeback.
• Bruce Kaplan is a senior broker associate with Premier Commercial Realty in Lake in the Hills. Reach him at email@example.com or www.profit-success.net.