Builder plans homes on site of CF Industries headquarters in Long Grove

Homes could replace a vacant corporate headquarters bordering a forest preserve in Long Grove.Under a tentative plan, 65 houses would be built in place of the CF Industries Holdings Inc. building, which the company left for a new Deerfield headquarters in...

Builder plans homes on site of CF Industries headquarters in Long Grove

Homes could replace a vacant corporate headquarters bordering a forest preserve in Long Grove.

Under a tentative plan, 65 houses would be built in place of the CF Industries Holdings Inc. building, which the company left for a new Deerfield headquarters in 2008. Overlooking Salem Lake, the site is adjacent to Lake County's Heron Creek Forest Preserve near Route 22 and Old McHenry Road.

Long Grove village board members have given permission to Austin, Texas-based Asset Ventures Fund Ltd. to enter a formal approval process for what would be the 37-acre Heron Creek Reserve subdivision.

Village officials last week also agreed to let another developer seek approval for a 31-home plan near Old Hicks and Checker roads.

Asset Ventures would demolish the 150,000-square-foot building that CF Industries moved into 41 years ago. Officials at the fertilizer manufacturer said one reason for the 2008 departure was that not enough employees occupied the structure.

If built, the 65 single-family houses would be clustered to maximize open space. Long Grove Village Planner James Hogue said the homes would be 2,200 to 3,600 square feet, potentially attractive to residents who want to downsize and "age in place."

"The design is actually interesting in that it preserves the lake frontage, so that all of the houses would take advantage of that," Hogue said. "It's the focal point of the development. Trails would be integrated through the development and into the Heron Creek Forest Preserve."

Asset Ventures bought the CF Industries campus in 2011. Company executive Curtis Davidson said it proved difficult to find takers for the building.

"We've been trying to sell it," Davidson said. "We've been trying to lease it. We've been trying to get a school to buy it. The cost to take that building up to current standards is very expensive."

Meanwhile, Swanson Development LLC of Lake Forest wants to build a 31-home subdivision that also would be clustered to retain more open space on Long Grove's far south side. The vacant 38 acres northwest of Old Hicks and Checker are in unincorporated Lake County, but Swanson wants to bring the land into Long Grove.

Rick Swanson, a managing member of the company, said the tentatively named Deer Trail subdivision would feature single-family houses of 2,800 to 4,500 square feet. Similar conservation-style residential developments have been embraced by other towns, Swanson said.

"We want to make this subdivision so it'll blend together and fit into the village," he added.

Both proposals will start with the advisory Long Grove plan commission and zoning board of appeals. That panel's recommendations will be forwarded to the village board, which gets the final say on issues.

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