Here’s how a former dairy factory in Huntley became housing

Former Cornell dairy factory, H.D. Catty building home to 38 apartments near downtown Huntley

Nick Ieremciuc of Wauconda-based True North Properties shows off an apartment in the Cornell Apartments near downtown Huntley on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023. The building was formally the home to the Cornell Brothers Milk Condensing Factory and H.D. Catty.

Jacob Haug is lactose intolerant, but his apartment building is full of dairy references.

The apartment number on the doors feature dairy product names like gouda cheese and sour cream, and the building gets its name from the dairy factory that once occupied the building.

“I appreciate the irony,” Haug said.

Haug is among the first tenants to live at the Cornell Apartments at 11117 S. Church St. near downtown Huntley. The apartment complex gets its name from the Cornell Brothers Milk Condensing Factory, which called the building home before packaging company H.D. Catty opened its plant there in the 1940s.

The Cornell Apartments now houses 38 apartments, with sizes running from 625 square feet for some of the studio units to 1240 square feet for some two-bedroom apartments. Rent ranges from $1,300 for studios to $2,000 for two-bedroom apartments. A furnished one-bedroom apartment offered on a short-term lease also goes for $2,000 a month.

Haug originally is from Belvidere and works in Cary, he said. He was looking at apartments closer to work and found the one in Huntley.

Jacob Haug in the kitchen area of his two-bedroom apartment in the Cornell Apartments near downtown Huntley on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023. The building was formally the home to the Cornell Brothers Milk Condensing Factory and H.D. Catty.

“We really liked the area,” Haug said, referring to his family’s decision to move to Huntley.

They moved in Sept. 1 and have been enjoying taking advantage of nearby amenities and downtown Huntley.

“We kind of like its downtown,” Haug said. “There’s 11 parks within walking distance.”

Despite being lactose intolerant, Haug also appreciates that the building has signs of its dairy past, including barn doors in the lobby that prominently feature old cheese labels.

“It’s kind of cool it has that hint of what the building used to be,” Haug said. “We definitely like it for an aesthetic purpose.”

Nick Ieremciuc of Wauconda-based True North Properties shows off the Cornell Apartments near downtown Huntley on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023. The building was formally the home to the Cornell Brothers Milk Condensing Factory and H.D. Catty.

Other items around the building remind visitors and residents that the apartment complex used to be a factory.

Load-bearing beams and poles are prominent, which developer Nick Ieremciuc of Wauconda-based True North Properties said was a challenge when creating the apartments. Sprinkler pipes remain visible in the building, but some residents think the beams and pipes, among other features, add to the building’s charm.

“People will prioritize apartments that have sprinkler pipe exposed,” Ieremciuc said.

An industrial track remains visible in one of the one-bedroom apartments, and residents whose apartments occupy the space that was the loading dock have their own entrances.

The historic building had a long road from housing factories to apartments.

The Cornell building is about 120 years old, having been built in the late 1800s to early 1900s time frame, Huntley Director of Development Services Charlie Nordman said.

The Cornell Apartments near downtown Huntley on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023. The building was formally the home to the Cornell Brothers Milk Condensing Factory and H.D. Catty.

It was first occupied by a Cornell Brothers Milk Condensing factory, operating from 1905 to about the mid-1930s. That was followed by a brewery for a few years and the Fencil gas company in the 1940s, Nordman said.

From the mid-1940s to 2006, H.D. Catty occupied the building. A Naperville-based real estate agent bought the building after H.D. Catty left and then sold the building to the village of Huntley in 2017, Nordman said.

The village of Huntley paid $425,000 for the property. The Village Board approved its sale for $100,000 to True North Properties in April 2022, signing off on the plan to convert it to apartments.

As part of the deal, the village constructed a parking lot that can be used by both residents and the public and the developer promised an investment of about $5 million into the property.

“The village purchased it knowing it would be a tough property to develop,” Nordman said. “It preserved a historical building that wouldn’t have been preserved otherwise.”

Over the past year, Ieremciuc said he’s fielded interest both locally as well as from out-of-state residents considering a move to the Huntley area.

“We have had a lot of people who have had their eye on the building,” Ieremciuc said.

It’s a wonderful place to live. Everyone in Huntley is so nice.”

—  Avalon Lanz, Cornell Apartments resident

Among them was Avalon Lanz, originally from Kent, Washington, just outside Seattle.

She and her husband used to live in the Algonquin and West Dundee area, and then following a yearlong stint near Baltimore, she said her husband’s job brought them back.

She looked at the apartments in the former Faith Lutheran church and school building in Crystal Lake, and said Ieremciuc told her about the Cornell apartments in Huntley. Both properties were converted and owned by True North Properties.

She said she moved in a few weeks ago and appreciates the short walk to restaurants and coffee shops downtown.

Her apartment overlooks the train tracks that run through downtown Huntley, and she said she’ll see trains come through every now and then.

“Huntley is so cute,” Lanz said. “It’s a wonderful place to live. Everyone in Huntley is so nice.”