In Huge Win For Park Forest, Village Sells Major North Street Property

80 North Street, Jason Wan, Yang Chen
80 North Street sold to Jason Wan and Yang Chen on Wednesday, October 18. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Residents may simply know it now as “that building” at the corner of North Street and Orchard Boulevard. It’s a major property in town, and it’s just been sold. The office and industrial building vacant for nearly 10 years in Park Forest is under new ownership and back on the tax rolls.

The property located at 80 North Street in Park Forest’s industrial park had been owned by the village since 2010 after being acquired via judicial deed. It’s a significant piece of real estate, an approximately 16,300 square feet two-story office building with a basement and 107,100 sf warehouse and production plant on approximately 7.5 acres.

In summer 2015, Jason Wan and Yang Chen identified the property through a search on a Chicago area business real estate website where the Village has advertised the property. ForeBio Properties, LLC is interested in purchasing the property to establish a food and nutritional product manufacturing business (ForeBio Nutrition Inc.) to supply to the international markets, an agenda briefing prepared for the October 9, 2017 board meeting states.

Park Forest board members voted unanimously Monday to approve a real estate purchase agreement for the sale of the building to Jason Wan and Yang Chen for $500,000.

The deal was finalized Wednesday.

According to the October 9 agenda briefing, the benefits of the deal include the following:

  1. With the incentive, the buyer will pay property taxes of $75,000 annually for three years. The next nine years, property taxes will be based on land value and will be consistent with the rate established for the taxing district.
  2. The buyer will also benefit from the Will Cook Enterprise Zone
  3. The buyer resides in DuPage County,
  4. The buyer has experience working with students and has an expressed interest in working with local high school and college students (emphasis added)
  5. The buyer has committed to complying with sustainable rehabilitation
  6. The property has stood vacant for more than ten years and this rehabilitation may stimulate more interest in the Business and Industry
  7. Truck traffic will be mostly small box

There was a closing, Hildy Kingma told eNews Park Forest Wednesday evening. And Ms. Kingma and others on Village staff give much credit to the long game of negotiations overseen by Assistant Director of Economic Development Sandra Zoellner.

Following receipt of an occupancy permit for Phase 1 of redevelopment of the property, Park Forest will rebate $250,000 of the purchase price, Village officials report.

Yang Chen, Jason Wan
Yang Chen and Jason Wan purchased the property at 80 North Street. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Wan and Chen, who were present at Park Forest’s board meeting on Oct. 9, were lauded by board members for their determination to finalize a deal after two years of talks.

The new owners plan to invest a total of $8.5 million dollars in the property over the next three years and an additional $5.5 million dollars in years four through 10.

When renovated, the building will employ 30 to 40 workers and will serve as headquarters for ForeBio Nutrition Inc., a nutritional supplement manufacturing company. ForeBio Nutrition Inc. aims to source U.S. locally produced, high-quality nutritional ingredients to formulate and manufacture nutritional supplements for youth which the company intends to sell internationally.

Plans for the property also call for the rehabilitation of the building’s office space to be leased to other business.

Park Forest officials say it was through a collaborative effort which included Park Forest staff members, Park Forest Mayor John Ostenburg, Illinois State Representative Anthony DeLuca, State Senator Toi Hutchinson, and local school districts that made a complex sale possible.

“It’s a difficult situation for someone to come into a piece of property that’s been abandoned for a long period of time and have every intention of bringing it up to a workable level, with costs that are involved that are 8.5 million dollars or more and yet have to bear an extreme burden in terms of the property taxes,” said Park Forest Mayor John Ostenburg. “So I think the consensus was that the relief on the property tax side would more than justify having that kind of an investment so that this property would once again be a viable property in our community.”

Prior to Park Forest’s acquisition of the property in 2010, property taxes had not consistently been paid on the vacant building since 2006.

At the October 16 meeting of the Village Board, Village Manager Tom Mick provided background on the deal.

“On the agenda tonight is approval of an ordinance relating to the sale and redevelopment of the property at 80 North Street,’ he said. “The Village is excited about the prospects for this projects. It is important to note that the Village would not be at this point without the efforts of many. At our discussion back on October 2nd we referenced the hard work and determination put in by the Village’s Economic Development Department, in particular Assistant Director Sandra Zoellner. We also noted the political stewardship on the Village’s behalf in Springfield by both State Representative Anthony DeLuca and State Senator Toi Hutchinson. Representative DeLuca, in particular, got things started with the Legislative Reference Bureau and was an advocate in getting committee support and support of House Speaker Mike Madigan and his staff. He shepherded the project through several different language changes and really went to bat on behalf of Park Forest.

“Finally, the Village needs to properly recognize the efforts of other taxing bodies to support this project. As part of the process, legislators requested letters of support from impacted taxing bodies demonstrating their understanding of the subject property and that they were in support of property tax relief proposed. Letters of support were provided by School Districts including High School District 227 and Elementary School District 163, Rich Township, Cook County and Prairie State College. Without these collaborative support of these bodies we could not be where we are this evening.”

Since becoming owners of 80 North Street, Park Forest nearly sold the building on two different occasions to different investor groups – one led by former Chicago Bear Richard Dent – however both deals were unsuccessful due to the inability of buyers to secure affordable financing.

This time, it’s a win. And there’s been a closing. And the company plans more.

Representatives for ForeBio Nutrition Inc. first approached Park Forest officials about the possibility of purchasing the property in 2015 after identifying it through a search on the website LoopNet. Since then, the two sides have remained in communication to obtain estimates to stabilize and renovate the property and to facilitate a reliable and predicable reduction in the real estate property taxes.

“I’m very thankful that Mr. Wan stuck it through,” said Park Forest Assistant Director of Economic Development Sandra Zoellner who led Park Forest’s efforts in the sale.

“When those 30 to 40 new employees start working in Park Forest in the research and development and when the small box trucks start going up and down North Street and down Western, that will be something to celebrate.”

Source information from the Village of Park Forest.