McHenry OKs purchase of 3 properties near wastewater treatment site

Land deal part of larger development eyed for downtown

The McHenry City Council on Monday night approved spending almost $2.8 million to purchase three properties adjacent to the decommissioned wastewater treatment plan along the Fox River.

In two votes following an hour-plus long closed session, the council voted 6-1 in favor of buying the properties, with Alderman Andy Glab, 2nd Ward, voting no on both.

The city bought the properties at the request of the seller “along with the developer,” Mayor Wayne Jett said following the meeting.

McHenry has been working with Geneva-based developer Shodeen Group LLC since last year under a “standstill agreement.” That agreement provides that the city will not market two properties it hopes to develop – including the former wastewater treatment site – to other developers while working towards a development plan both can agree on. The two sides have until March 31, 2025, to finalize the plan.

The properties approved for purchase on Monday are at 3309, 3407 and 3311 Waukegan Road. The contract amount for the 3309 and 3407 properties together, owned by Carey Electric Contractors, is $2.4 million, according to city documents. The contract price for the 3311 property, owned by WalRose LLC, is $362,500.

McHenry’s interest in the properties is to “create an opportunity for a master development of the area,” City Administrator Suzanne Ostrovsky said in an emailed response to questions about the deal. “The city intends to assign the contracts to a developer.”

“In all likelihood, the city will not be the owner of the properties if a developer provides a master development for the area,” she said in her emailed response.

Decommissioned in 2018, the treatment plant was demolished in 2021 at the cost of about $1 million, leaving about 7 acres along the river available for development. The city has had proposals for the site in the past, including a multi-story apartment building, but none that found City Council approval.

McHenry’s agreement with Shodeen also includes the 2 ¼ acres of city-owned land adjacent to Green Street, Route 120 and Boone Creek. Shodeen also has proposed it buy the former city hall site at 1111 N. Green St. to build apartments, parking and a retail space. The developer also has asked for a new tax-increment financing, or TIF, district for that parcel, in addition to $2 million in additional aid.