It could have been the site of Metea Valley High School if things had turned out differently, but now it's set to be transformed from dormant farmland into 171 new townhouses.
The land covers 25 acres at Commons Road south of 75th Street in Aurora, at the southwest corner of a 150-acre field at 75th Street and Route 59 known as the Brach-Brodie property.
Housing developer M/I Homes is likely to receive final approval from the city of Aurora next week to build the subdivision, called Gramercy Square. Aldermen gave it a preliminary green light Tuesday, saying the variety of traditional and modern townhouses will be a positive addition to the area.
"We've got bike paths, we've got a park as part of this," said Alderman Rick Mervine, whose 8th Ward includes the site. "It looks like it's very well oriented."
M/I Homes bought the 25-acre site from Indian Prairie Unit District 204 in January 2017 after the district decided to sell it in late 2016.
The sale, which closed April 26, concluded roughly 13 years of district ownership of the property.
Board members bought it in 2005 for $6.4 million, hoping to build a middle school. They later attempted to buy 55 more acres of the property from the heiresses to the Brach candy fortune, which would have allowed space for a third high school.
Plans to make 75th and Route 59 the site of Metea Valley High School fell through in September 2007, when legal proceedings to buy the extra acres determined the land would have cost $17 million more than anticipated.
So the district instead bought 84 acres from St. John AME Church and built Metea at 1801 N. Eola Road, just south of Diehl Road.
The school board tried to sell the 25 acres near 75th and Route 59 in 2010, but it found no buyer would meet its asking price. In late 2016, officials tried again to sell the land, setting a minimum price of $6.1 million but receiving even more -- $7 million -- from M/I Homes.
Matt Pagoria, vice president of land acquisition for M/I Homes, said the builder hopes to begin site work and construction in June, pending final city council approval.
The project includes extending Commons Drive further south, building a retention pond just north of Calvary Church and allowing a 1-acre site on the east side for the Fox Valley Park District.
M/I is set to pay $297,481 to the park district for future park development and $91,322 to District 204, to offset the cost of educating students who will live in Gramercy Square, according to city documents.
The developer estimates 347 people will live in Gramercy Square when it is complete, including 18 elementary students, eight junior high students and seven high schoolers.
District 204 officials say those students will attend Gombert Elementary School, Still Middle School and Waubonsie Valley High School.
With the land officially sold to M/I, District 204 plans to use the proceeds to pay debt and make improvements to some of its 33 schools.