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County considers new road to attract investors

Road would connect Brisbin and Gun Club roads

The property at Gun Club Road and U.S. 6 that Clarius Partners hopes to turn into a distribution center. The firm, with Five Star Land, approached Grundy County looking for help in building a road to make the site more marketable.
The property at Gun Club Road and U.S. 6 that Clarius Partners hopes to turn into a distribution center. The firm, with Five Star Land, approached Grundy County looking for help in building a road to make the site more marketable.

MORRIS – The Grundy County Board tax committee is considering a plan to help attract businesses to the Brisbin Road interchange. The plan would include a new roadway connecting Brisbin and Gun Club roads and a set tax incentive package for any possible clients.

Two landowners of lots south of Route 6 and between Brisbin and Gun Club roads have teamed up after years of competing against each other for prospective tenants on their properties.

Taivo Tammaru, a senior vice president with Chicago real estate and development group Clarius Partners that owns one of the parcels of land in question, said that even after teaming up they’ve been unable to attract investors.

“We’ve been chasing multiple deals of size and not been successful,” Tammaru told the committee.

Investors were looking for things such as closer rail access or better tax incentives in other communities.

Grundy County does give tax incentives when projects bring business and jobs into the county, typically including a tax abatement of 50 percent for a number of years, but each specific deal depends on how many and what type of jobs are coming, the average pay for those positions, and a host of other factors.

At Tuesday’s meeting, County Administrator George Gray said that the Grundy Economic Development Council has a score sheet to help determine the specific incentive package. Tammaru said it would be helpful to have a package ahead of time to help attract investors.

Property owners were also hoping for county support in building a new 2.5-mile road across the properties. The proposal, according to the Clarius documents given to the county, would be a road in the shape of an elongated “S,” from Brisbin Road in the northeast, heading west, then south the length of the property, before going west and exiting the area on Gun Club Road.

Tammaru expected initial construction would cost $6 million, with the county contributing $1 million during the initial construction. Through a deal with the county, he said the partnership of Clarius and Five Star would hope to recoup
$7 million more after tenants are found for the property and buildings are constructed, totalling $8 million.

The extra $2 million would go toward infrastructure costs already incurred, such as water and sewer and gas lines, and toward defraying some of the construction costs and increasing the attractiveness of the property for investors, Tammaru said.

“This is all about getting the first project to pick and select and land at this location,” Tammaru said. He said the location by Brisbin Road was a great location for distribution businesses, likening it to “easy out parking at the United Center.”

John Dollinger, a former Grundy County Board member and now part of Five Star Land, said that in the early 1990s, when he was on the board, the county had targeted this spot for industrial projects. Getting the Brisbin Road interchange built, which opened in October 2012, was part of the plan.

County Board Chairman Chris Balkema, R-District 2, said it appeared to be necessary for the county to help further develop the area, especially since it appeared that the east-west road was necessary to help land investors to the area.

Not everyone at the meeting was in favor of the project.

“I’m probably the worst person you could have on this committee because I wouldn’t give them nothing,” said board member Doug Boresi, R-District 3.

He said companies come in and don’t pay enough for employees to live on, but then the company walks away with all of the tax breaks.

Committee chairman Mike Onorato, D-District 3, said that the development companies at the meeting were not the employers, but Boresi dismissed it.

“It’s all tied together,” Boresi said.

After the road is constructed, it would actually be taken over by the city of Morris, as the property owners have a pre-annexation agreement with the city. Morris also will be responsible for water and sewer. No action was taken by the committee, as the project was just a discussion item. Members agreed to pick it up at the next committee meeting.

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