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Edward Harvard Holding has yet to contact city about former Motorola plant project

Some concerned about historic William H. Coventry House and Barn on-site

HARVARD – The company behind the proposed $32 million project at the former Motorola plant has yet to contact the city of Harvard or complete its enterprise zone incentive application, local officials said this week.

Edward Harvard Holdings LLC, owned by Xiao Hua Gong, plans to make smartphones at the vacant campus in Harvard, which has been empty since Motorola closed in 2003. The project would bring about 100 temporary construction jobs to the area and 100 permanent jobs.

The company’s incomplete application – filed by Edward Technology US LLC – states that it will have distribution, a research and development center, customer support, engineering services, telecommunications operations and a training center on the 1.52 million-square-foot corporate campus at 2001 N. Division St., Harvard.

The incomplete application gives a completion date of May 2017, but the company hasn’t been in contact with the city of Harvard for building permits or anything else. As of Tuesday, the application seeking incentives through the enterprise zone hadn’t been completed, said Charles Eldredge, who heads the Harvard-Woodstock enterprise zone.

Eldredge said at a public meeting last week that the company expects to start construction by May or June and that there will be “significant employment” at the campus by late summer.

Representatives from the McHenry County Historic Preservation Commission are concerned about the fate of the William H. Coventry House and Barn on the site. The McHenry County Planning, Environment and Development Committee recently tabled a resolution that would authorize enforcement of an ordinance that would allow for inspection of the historic landmark property, which is deteriorating.

James McConnell, chairman of the preservation commission, said he wanted the opportunity to discuss the property’s status with Edward Holding before the incentive agreement was in place.

“We can’t talk to them without the passage of this resolution,” he said. “I don’t know what the wish for delay is, unless it’s a wish to kill the whole deal.”

Eldredge said that although he was in favor of restoration of the farmstead, the prospect of bringing jobs to McHenry County was more important in the long run.

“We think once they get going there with staff, it will be much easier to have a discussion with them on the future of Coventry,” he said. “Frankly, we don’t feel the people that have been doing this on behalf of the Edward group have been focused on this at all because it is so minor in comparison to their tens of millions of dollar investment.”

In its incentive application, Edward Technology left several lines blank, including one that asked for the name of the contractor the company planned to use on the project. The company estimates it will spend $17 million in remodeling and $15 million in capital equipment. City Administrator Dave Nelson said it was likely that the company would need to contact the city for permits, dependent on what they intend to do.

“If they are just hooking up machines and doing simple things, then no,” he said. “But even if they are doing any kind of electrical work, then yes, my guys will want to take a look. [For a project like this] yes, I would think so, but I don’t know for sure because I haven’t seen anything yet.”

The name of the business owner on the application is listed as Edward America Holdings, which incorporated in May 2016 in Delaware, according to Delaware state records. It lists its business address at the Corporation Trust Center, 1209 Orange St., Wilmington. The building is home to about 300,000 other firms, including Fortune 500 companies such as Apple and Wal-Mart. The site is popular because of a tax loop hole that allows company to shift revenues to holding companies in Delaware and avoid taxes in the state where the business is located.

Xiao Hua Gong is listed as the only manager of the Edward America Holdings. He also is the only member of Edward Harvard Holdings, the company that owns the Harvard campus. Edward Technology US lists its only member as Edward America Holdings.

Edward America Holdings lists its address as 600 Town Center Drive, Dearborn, Michigan. That is the address of the Edward Hotel and Convention Center, formerly the Royal Dearborn Hotel and Convention Center, which overlooks Ford Motor Co.’s world headquarters. He bought the property for $9.3 million in April 2016.

The Harvard corporate campus has been vacant since 2003. Two company representatives listed on the enterprise zone application did not respond to a request for comment.

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