Soapblox Chicago reminded me of something I’d beeen meaning to write about, but hadn’t been able to find time to do, which is to address a little more fully whether there’s any relationship between rapidly rising demand for land in Kendall County and the Prairie Parkway. I think, and have had a lot of people tell me, that the Parkway has been a significant factor for some development. And let’s be clear about what that means: No one has said it’s the only factor, or even that it’s the primary factor, but that the planned corridor is attracting growth (some of which would have happened in the county anyway) to the rural stretch of Kendall County through which the Parkway will run.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, his staff and supporters have insist that there’s no relationship between his land sales and the Parkway whatsoever, for example, in this story:
In defending himself, Hastert told The Associated Press the land in question was 5.5 miles from the proposed highway.
“So, it has nothing to do with the Prairie Parkway,” the Yorkville Republican said. “I owned land and I sold it, like millions of people do every day.”
Hastert business partner Dallas Ingemunson, a former Kendall County state’s attorney, questioned the use of the 5.5 mile estimate, saying the distance was “probably less than three miles … as the crow flies.” But he agreed with Hastert that the Prairie Parkway had nothing to do with their land deals.
“The Prairie Parkway was never a factor in these transactions,” Bonjean said. “None of the properties purchased by the speaker are near enough to the Prairie Parkway to be affected by the proposed highway. … When the property was purchased they did not know the Prairie Parkway was going to go down that route.”
Anthony Casaccio, a Chicago-based real estate developer who says he owns several thousand acres in Kendall County, said he recently bought and sold commercially zoned property in the area where Hastert made his purchases and more than doubled his money in about two years.
“Depending on location and proximity to sewer and water, you could see easily doubling your money in a short period of time,” said Casaccio, who said he was not a campaign contributor to Hastert and was not active politically.
That sounds pretty definitive, but not everyone discounts the proposed road as a factor in their drive to make money. Here’s an April 2002 story, called “Paving The Way To A Real Estate Boom” from a trade publication called the National Real Estate Investor (you can read it online here), quoting another developer in Kendall County:
Some far-sighted speculators have rushed to pick up choice exurban parcels at bargain prices with the expectation of reselling the land for development.
For instance, Inland Real Estate Development Corp., based in Oak Brook, has amassed some 4,000 acres in far southwest Kendall County, where the Prairie Parkway is proposed. The plans were originally unveiled 15 years ago.
Inland recently bundled a key 70-acre parcel lying adjacent to one proposed center line for the Prairie Parkway and offered it for sale for commercial development, asking $5 per sq. ft. and more for raw farmland that cost the firm as little as $5,000 an acre to acquire.
“The planning for the parkway has changed our perspective on our landholdings,” admits Matthew Fiascone, an Inland senior vice president. “Homeowners don’t want to live near a superhighway. So we’re likely to begin planning for industrial parks on sites that we had earlier envisioned for residential subdivisions.”
And here’s the same Mathhew Fiascone, in February 4, 2002, article in Crain’s Chicago Business:
The parkway might not get built for 10 years. Yet Inland Senior Vice-president Matthew Fiascone believes that approval of the road, including a likely four-way interchange at U.S. 34, would ignite interest in his company’s holdings.
“Growth is going to happen in Kendall County no matter what,” he says. “But if the parkway is okayed, it could accelerate developments like ours by three to five years. Time is money in our business, so the parkway would give us a boost.”
What’s funny about Fiascone is that he works for the same company as Anthony Casaccio, called Inland Real Estate Development Co. LLC. Browsing through its Web site, I found that it currently advertises one of its commercial properties this way:
Frontage available on Rt 34 & Eldamain Rd. Eldamain Rd. is planned to extend with a bridge over the Fox River and become a regional north/south arterial. Also immediately west of the property is the planned interchange with Rt 34 & the Prairie Parkway. (Emphasis added.)
The same advertisement tells us:
Property is zoned commercial & is adjacent to the Lakewood Springs Subdivision & the Fox Run Subdivision containing in excess of 2,000 dwelling untis surrounding the property.
Curious, I looked up “Lakewood Springs” and “Prairie Parkway,” and found this fact sheet cached in Google:
Located west of Route 47, Lakewood Springs residents will have easy access to Interstate 88. The proposed Prairie Parkway would connect Interstate 88 to Interstate 80, weaving through Plano.
There’s no address, but the page gives us these directions: “Lakewood Springs is located on Route 34, west of Route 47. To visit, take I-88 to Route 56 to Route 47 and head south to Route 34. At Route 34, turn west to the site.” I’ve got to get caught up reading the avalanche of email, but maybe one of my more technically savvy readers can put it on a map and see whether the Parkway is something less than 5.5 miles driving distance from the future site of Lakewood Springs…