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posted: 7/29/2019 5:30 AM

Investors sue Huntley over zoning denial for outlet mall redevelopment

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An investment group seeking to redevelop the defunct Huntley Outlet Center site is taking the village of Huntley to court over a zoning dispute.

Huntley Investment Partners LLC sued the village July 2 for denying its request to rezone the roughly 60-acre property to allow office, research, industrial/light manufacturing, warehouse storage and distribution uses. The site north of Interstate 90 and east of Route 47 currently is zoned for retail uses.

The property was purchased in April 2016 by Huntley Investment Partners LLC -- comprising Elgin's The Capital Companies LLC; Chicago-based The Prime Group, Inc., which built the center in 1994; and Craig Realty Group, a California-based development and management firm of upscale factory outlet centers.

They closed the 22-year-old outlet center about a year later. The village then sued its new owners to force them to fix code violations or raze the structure.

The group agreed to raze the 279,000-square-foot outlet mall in the spring of 2018 at a $2 million cost in exchange for the village processing the rezoning application, said Mike Reschke, chairman and CEO of The Prime Group.

The group then proposed erecting three speculative warehouse/distribution buildings ranging in size from 177,320 to 245,280 square feet on the property.

After endorsing conceptual plans for the project, Huntley trustees rejected final site plans in April, despite the village staff and plan commission recommending approval. Trustees said a business park would not generate many jobs or significant tax revenues, and would increase truck traffic. Officials also said they would prefer a hotel or restaurants on the site.

"They breached their settlement agreement with us," Reschke said. "Their action to deny us our zoning request is unreasonable and unconscionable under state law."

Reschke said numerous changes were made to landscaping, berms, setbacks, size of parking spaces and screening upon village staff's request.

Village officials have declined to comment on the lawsuit "since it is a matter of litigation." The village has 30 days to file a response in court.

Rezoning the outlet mall site would make it consistent with neighboring businesses -- a Weber Grill warehouse facility to the east and a General RV dealership to the west, Reschke said.

"After three years, we have concluded (it) is the highest and best use of the property," said Reschke adding, "it was impossible" to reinvigorate the property as an outlet center.

"There is no demand for any retailers to be located there," he said. "Hopefully, the court will agree with us and order the village to rezone our property to the most logical and proper use."