Developer Reversed Itself On LTHS Land: Records

LA GRANGE, IL – An industrial developer privately told Lyons Township High School on Jan. 10 that the minimum price of $55 million was too high for the school’s Willow Springs land.

A day before sealed bids were opened Jan. 11, Josh Bauer, an investment officer with San Francisco-based Prologis, told the school’s finance official, “Based on current market conditions, we will not be able to meet this asking price.”

The next day, Prologis bid $46.5 million, while Bridge Industrial put in for the minimum price.

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Weeks later, though, it turned out the minimum price wasn’t so high for Prologis. On Feb. 17, the company offered $60.5 million for the wooded 71 acres. That was an increase of $14 million in 37 days.

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Bauer did not return messages for comment. But Jennifer Nelson, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an interview that the company decided not to move forward. Asked for the reason, she said a number of factors were considered, but she did not detail them.

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According to public records, Bauer was aware of the controversy surrounding the land. Willow Springs bars industrial uses on the property in question, and village officials have vowed to keep it that way.

On Jan. 18, Bauer apparently read the Patch story headlined, “Willow Springs, LTHS Lock Horns On Sale.” This was when village officials denounced the school’s effort to sell the land to an industrial developer, saying they had been kept out of the loop.

In his Jan. 18 email, Bauer said he had been reading about the village’s reaction to the Bridge Industrial bid and industrial uses.

“I have a couple of ideas,” Bauer said, asking whether finance official Brian Stachacz had time to connect by phone.

Eight days earlier, he asked Stachacz whether Willow Springs had provided any feedback on the land and whether it would be comfortable with industrial uses.

He noted Pleasantdale Elementary School was next to the land. He said Prologis would take measures to screen and buffer its use from the school.

Stachacz apparently did not answer by email, but may have done so by phone. This was before Willow Springs made its opposition public.

Since then, five towns, a park district and a school district have come out against industrial uses on the land.

School officials have not returned messages for comment.

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