DeKALB – Project leaders behind a major food and beverage distribution, packing and storage company dubbed, at least for now, by city officials as “Project Wildcat” are one step closer to putting down roots in the city of DeKalb.
The DeKalb Planning and Zoning Commission met this week to review and ultimately approve plans for the two-building development in a 5-1-1 vote. Commissioner Jerry Wright was absent, and Commissioner Max Maxwell abstained. But the project still hinges on the approval of annexation, rezoning and preliminary development plan requests by the DeKalb City Council. The council’s next meeting is expected to take place Aug. 8.
If approved, Project Wildcat would set up shop on about 160 acres of land bounded by Gurler and Peace roads, Interstate 88 and Crego Road.
The development will consist of two proposed buildings, one of which is estimated at 1.2 million square feet and the other at 900,000 square feet.
Commission Vice Chairman Bill McMahon praised the project and its potential addition to the ChicagoWest Business Center on the city’s south side.
“I think it’s an exciting project,” McMahon said. “It’s an opportunity to come in. It’s great for our community. It seems to fit.”
The ChicagoWest Business Center is already home to the Meta DeKalb Data Center and Ferrara. An Amazon distribution center is also expected to go up in the area after the online retail giant paid $6.3 million last fall for nearly 59 acres on Gurler Road, the same land slated for what city officials called Project Barb, property records showed.
Phase I of the Project Wildcat development is expected to create about 700 new jobs for the region, officials said. The number of jobs created by phase II of the project is anticipated to mirror that figure.
Josh Udelhofen, of Trammel Crow Chicago Development and the ChicagoWest Business Center, said they are working to expedite the development approval process and are eying a September groundbreaking for phase I.
He said the client that will operate the space expects the building to be fully operational by 2025, but has plans to put the building to use sooner.
“They will be commissioning the building as time goes as portions of the building are useable for the ultimate business purpose,” Udelhofen said. “We envision potential phased occupancies beginning in early-to-mid-2024, with the final occupancy coming in early 2025 when all the components of the facility are operationally commissioned for the client.”
Udelhofen said that an expedited construction timeline is desired because the core components of the building will be in place by the first or second quarter of 2024 allowing for partial occupancy of the space.
Project leaders are still working with the client behind the proposed 900,000-square-foot building to firm up plans.
Udelhofen said the client is anticipating that the building’s construction will require two phases of its own. But he said they don’t have 100% clarity on the timing of phase II of the project, but hope to have more insight on it by later this year.