One week after on the old Hubble school property, Bradford Equities, LLC has taken advantage of its land control and commenced detailed analyses of the 22.6-acre site.
Under the terms of the Hubble sale, Bradford has seven months to obtain the necessary permits and zoning required to bring the planned Mariano’s Fresh Market to the site before closing the deal. However, Bradford Chief Financial Officer Chad Jones says he expects an agreement "long before that."
“It’s a difficult site to work with,” Jones said, referring to the fact that the majority of the property sits on a flood plain. “We need to get through that before we have a final agreement.”
The District 200 board of education accepted Bradford’s offer last Thursday after it was formally submitted earlier that week. Bradford’s plans for the site mirror those released by the Wheaton Park District in May. The park district made its May 18, after announcing its to bring Mariano's to the corner of Naperville and Roosevelt roads.
Bradford decided to submit its offer in late June after realizing the complications associated with the park district’s offer, Jones said. “We realized there were restrictions (in a purchase contract) ... we felt it’d be in everyone’s best interest to buy it ourselves,” Jones said. Selling the site directly to a developer, he explained, assured District 200 that the property would be developed and return to the tax rolls in Wheaton.
Park Board President Ray Morrill said he was glad to see Hubble go to Bradford. “If it wasn’t going to go to us, I’m glad it’s Bradford,” he said.
Mike Benard, executive director of the Wheaton Park District said Thursday that Bradford and the park district will stipulate formal elements of their agreement in the next two weeks to 30 days.
Benard explained that there will be no specific price assigned to the park district's portion of the property, but that the park district will spend up to $3 million on the recreational aspects of the site, which include restoration of the gyms, green space and a parking lot along Main Street.
As the project progresses, the major issue facing the project will be time, Benard said. While obtaining permitting and zoning may present issues that are out of Bradford's realm of control, he said the park district and Bradford will count on the city's zoning board and City Council to "move efficiently with the end result in mind."
"We're encouraged. We know people in the city have committed to moving expeditiously," he said.
"I speak with Bradford everyday about this," Benard said. "We're in constant contact about moving forward."
Jones, who has been with Bradford for six years, said as a Wheaton resident, this deal has become personal to him. After working on the development of Mariano's in Vernon Hills, he said that Mariano's is the type of store Wheaton will embrace. "It's exciting to be able to bring such an outstanding store (to Wheaton)," he said, while also maintaining the site for public use.
Although the deal took a long time to get resolved, Morrill said he thinks the final decision, "is truly going to be the best for the community ... it's going to provide an exciting future for all involved."