Sale of Harvard’s vacant Motorola campus slated for May

‘We have every reason to think that it will close at that time,’ a U.S. Justice Department representative said in McHenry County court

The sale of Harvard’s former Motorola campus likely will be finalized in May rather than the previously expected April closing date, officials said.

The U.S. Department of Justice has not named the potential buyer of the long-vacant, 1.5 million-square-foot property, but on Thursday confirmed the sale was expected to be finalized in mid-May.

“We have every reason to think that it will close at that time,” Justice Department representative Mary Butler said during a hearing Thursday in McHenry County.

Orders tied to a Canadian criminal case against the most recent owner, Xiao Hua “Edward” Gong, previously prevented new businesses from moving into the 303-acre space at 2001 N. Division St., which has been vacant since 2003.

A Sept. 25 order from the Ontario Superior Court in Canada, however, allowed for the sale of the property while Gong’s case is ongoing.

Gong bought the property for $9.3 million through an online auction in April 2016. The $32 million smartphone manufacturing project that he proposed never came to fruition, however.

Instead, Gong allowed property taxes to fall delinquent for three consecutive years, leaving more than $1 million in unpaid taxes, records show.

The unattended property has since begun to deteriorate, along with an attached local historical landmark, the William H. Coventry House, city officials have said.

Attorney Peter Baugher – who represents an interested party that previously tried to buy the property – voiced concerns Thursday about mold spreading throughout the campus.

“The problem is that the property is continuing to deteriorate at a rapid rate because of mold, which is exacerbated by warmer weather,” Baugher said.

McHenry County Judge Thomas Meyer continued the case to May 19, at which point representatives from the Justice Department are expected to provide more concrete details about the sale process.

Katie Smith

Katie has reported on the crime and courts beat for the Northwest Herald since 2017. She began her career with Shaw Media in 2015 at the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, where she reported on the courts, city council, the local school board, and business.