Edward Harvard Holdings redeems taxes on former Motorola property, puts up new sign

New company sign installed after years of inactivity

The mysterious owner of Harvard’s former Motorola campus has redeemed taxes for the property and put up a new sign.

The property at 2001 N. Division St. has been vacant since 2003. Dearborn, Michigan-based Edward Harvard Holdings LLC bought the site in an online auction in 2016 for $9.3 million.

About two years later, after little action had taken place on the site, the company’s name recently was placed on a sign on the property.

A security guard answered the property’s phone Thursday afternoon and directed questions to the property manager, who was not available.

Businessman Xiao Hua Gong is listed as the sole manager of Edward Harvard Holdings LLC, according to state records.

Gong allowed property taxes on the 1.5 million-square-foot campus to fall delinquent when he failed to pay the second installment on the $325,437 tax bill Sept. 9.

An auction company bought the taxes at a McHenry County tax sale Oct. 30, according to county records.

Gong redeemed the taxes Dec. 18, and the county reimbursed the auction company in January, county records show.

Canadian authorities charged Gong with numerous fraud offenses on
Dec. 28.

The Ontario Securities Commission accused Gong of fraud of more than $5,000, possession of property obtained by criminal activity, laundering crime proceeds and forgery, according to a news release from the commission.

Local authorities have been in the dark about plans for the massive campus, which includes four multistory buildings, two heliports and other amenities, such as an auditorium, biking and walking trails, and a fitness center.

At one point, Edward Harvard Holdings submitted an incomplete application to receive economic incentives to turn the 1.52 million-square-foot building at 2001 N. Division St. into a smartphone manufacturing company.

The partial application was submitted in March 2017 but never completed.

Motorola built the $100 million corporate campus in 1997. It was expected to bring an economic boon to Harvard.

The state of Illinois contributed
$30 million for infrastructure around the plant. At its peak, the facility employed 5,000 people.

However, Motorola closed the plant after only five years in operation. At the time of its closing, the facility employed 1,200. About 600 of those employees found work at other Motorola facilities.

For more than a decade, residents have speculated about what would become of the site. In 2003, a developer wanted to turn the plant into a water park and amusement center, but those plans fell through in 2004.

Florida-based Optima International bought the property for about $17 million in 2008.

It failed to find a tenant, even though the property was marketed as a potential prison, educational facility, manufacturing plant or Department of Homeland Security office.

Over the years, maintenance at the property has been sporadic and, for a time, it appeared the building would be left to rot. At one point, ComEd sued Optima over an outstanding $545,000 electric bill.

Harvard officials could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

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