An aerial view of the property at 1821 Gardner Road in Broadview, which could be the site of a warehouse and trucking facility, after the village board approved a special zoning use to Rainy Investments. | Google Earth
Sunday, February 20, 2022 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || UPDATED: 2/21/22
During a special meeting on Feb. 15, the Broadview Board of Trustees unanimously approved an ordinance granting a special zoning use to Rainy Investments (operating as Rainy Broadview LLC), which is looking to build a warehouse and trucking facility on roughly eight acres of land at 1821 Gardner Road in Broadview.
David Upshaw, Broadview’s building commissioner, said the developer purchased a 185,000-square-foot building on the property during an auction in 2018. The building, once home to a medical supplies company, had been abandoned for four years when it was purchased. The developer demolished the abandoned building last year.
Phil Fornaro, an attorney representing Rainy Investments, said that once the building was demolished in October 2021, it presented less of a burden to the municipality. When the building sat empty, it invited illegal dumping and other problems, Upshaw said.
Fornaro said that the developer’s initial plans were to construct a truck terminal and trailer storage facility, but that as the COVID-19 pandemic deepened and as e-commerce grew, the developer’s plans grew to include warehousing.
“The market spoke,” Fornaro said, referencing the increasing prevalence of warehouse and distribution facilities being built to accommodate the increase in online shopping due to pandemic restrictions.
Fornaro said that since the development is in a flood zone, there will be compensatory water storage constructed onsite that’s sufficient to contain stormwater on the property, without any spilling onto neighboring properties.
An architectural drawing of the proposed warehouse and trucking facility in Broadview that was presented by Rainy Investments at a Broadview village board meeting on Feb. 15. | Rainy Investments
He said that the only access onto Gardner Road will be for emergency vehicles. Non-emergency vehicles will be able to access the property from I-290 by way of Indian Joe Drive. Fornaro said that Broadview’s planning and zoning commission recommended that only right turns out of the property.
“The beauty of this project is that it does not have to burden Gardner Road at all,” he said.
Other features of the development will include significant security technology, such as 24/7 cameras, landscaping features such as a sound wall designed to absorb the sound of traffic and lighting.
“It will definitely be highly secure, with fencing, walls, cameras and lighting,” he said. “Traffic will be predictable.”
Upshaw said the proposal passed the planning and zoning commission back in December 2021.
Broadview Mayor Katrina Thompson said Westchester community members have expressed support of the project based on conversations at the December planning and zoning commission meeting, among others.
“I support the project 100%,” she said. “It’s good for us.”
Ken Buckman, Rainy Investment’s CEO, said the proposed development could not move forward until the village board’s sign-off. With the board decision finalized, the firm can now expedite the process of looking for an owner-operator for the site. He said the development still needs another $5 million to $6 million worth of work before it can be completed.
An architectural rendering of the proposed sound walls developers plan to build near the proposed warehouse and trucking facility in Broadview. | Rainy Investments
“We are absolutely interested in finishing this as fast as possible,” he said, but added that the project will still be “somewhat at the whim of the market” due to global supply chain issues stemming from the pandemic.
Trustee Judy Miller, who works in the trucking and transportation field, said she hopes the supply chain backlog improves as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted before expressing her support for the project.
Miller was the only trustee who abstained from voting. She said she wasn’t able to review any of the new documents spelling out the changes to the proposal, because she was on vacation at the time they were given to board members.
The trustee said that, based on her experience, the major supply chain issues stem from the lack of available workers in the industry.
“We don’t have drivers who want to drive, we don’t have operators willing to operate under the current COVID restrictions right now,” she said. “So, it’s best for them in their mind to sit back and sit still. Hopefully we’ll be under different mandates [soon].”
But Miller said she was optimistic about the project nonetheless.
“I’m glad to see that there is still interest in bringing such a big network to Broadview and that there is passion,” she said. “And multimillion dollar projects do look good on our books, as well.”
Watch the Feb. 15 Broadview village board meeting here.