Developer pitches Baxter HQ industrial park plan amid opposition 2023

The developer that wants to transform Baxter International’s Deerfield headquarters property into an industrial park presented its case to northern suburb planning authorities Thursday evening while a large group of neighborhood homeowners promised to reject the idea. Chicago-based Bridge Industrial executives presented their concept for the 101-acre property between Saunders Road and Interstate 94/294 north of Lake Cook Road during a meeting postponed by two weeks and moved to a bigger location to accommodate interest.

Bridge wants to demolish 10 office buildings and create two warehouses totaling over 1.1 million square feet to accommodate rising demand from online retailers. Bridge had planned to lease a third building to the Deerfield Park District as a recreational facility, but the developer announced Thursday that it would fund an open-air public sports complex with a turf field, pickleball courts, and other facilities.

The idea is one of several in the suburbs for outmoded office complexes that have become potential industrial redevelopment targets as remote work undermines office demand and firms desire warehouse space. More suburban governments are considering the implications of such programs. Proponents say they revitalize white elephant office sites with new employment and local tax money.

Submissions from the development team Industrial park plan for Baxter Headquarters Faces Opposition

Opponents say new warehouse development will bring a flood of trucks, pollution, noise, and traffic. The Baxter property is across the street from a Riverwoods neighborhood with almost 300 residences. Thorngate residents, who would be most affected by Bridge project truck traffic, have opposed the project through an online petition that had over 4,500 signatures as of Thursday evening. As Bridge presented its idea Thursday night at Deerfield High School, hundreds of people waved signs and booed.

“We’re here to work with everybody,” Bridge Partner Jon Pozerycki remarked. We’ll ideally be community partners. It starts here.” Sign up for our Commercial Real Estate Report newsletter for exclusive news and analysis right in your inbox. Email address Deerfield Plan Commissioners grilled Bridge leadership and project consultants on the industrial park’s traffic effect and how it would guarantee trucks followed designated routes in and out of the complex. The crowd roared.

“Those are different from this area,” one commissioner noted of Bridge’s industrial developments in Waukegan, South Chicago, and McCook. Bridge has built warehouses “much closer” to residential areas than the Baxter project and would encourage future tenants to use Lake Cook Road to access Interstate 294.

“We are not concerned about trucks being backed up,” he added, explaining property plans to keep idle trucks on the industrial park site. Kenig Lindgren O’Hara & Aboona’s traffic consultant predicted 300 trucks would enter and leave the Bridge campus daily.

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