Motorola's Harvard Facility Under Contract to Local Developer
HARVARD, IL -- July 10, 2003 -- Motorola Inc.'s 1.5 million square foot cellular manufacturing and distribution facility in Harvard will soon begin a new life as one of the Midwest's premiere resort, entertainment and convention center complexes.
The Harvard facility and its surrounding acreage are under contract to be sold to local real estate developer Joseph A. Buralli. The contract, which is for an undisclosed amount, is expected to close at the end of July 2003.
Today, Buralli announced his plans to purchase and redevelop the 300-acre campus and its existing buildings into a regional resort and entertainment complex that will also be home to the world's largest indoor water park. Buralli also announced that he has formed a new Harvard-based company - WATERPARK H2OTELS USA, LLC - to manage the development, operation and marketing of the venture.
Buralli's preliminary plans for the complex include a six-story indoor water park which will be housed in one of the property's four existing buildings, movie and live performance theaters, a fitness center, indoor racquetball, volleyball, paint ball and laser tag facilities, mini golf, go karts and a variety of restaurants and retail shops. Initial plans also call for resort hotel rooms, condominiums, a day spa, a convention center, meeting rooms, an office building, a corporate training center and two daycare centers.
"Harvard is located within two hours of 12 million people," said Buralli, citing the findings of a feasibility study done for the project. "The potential for a resort entertainment complex of this scope is enormous."
"'Going to Harvard' is going to take on a whole new meaning for families very soon," he added.
Dennis Strand, corporate vice president of Motorola, Inc. and vice president and director of finance, Motorola Personal Communications Sector, had this to say about the project: "Motorola has been committed to finding the ideal buyer for our Harvard facility - a buyer whose presence would be an asset to the community of Harvard, McHenry County and the State of Illinois. We are very pleased that the property is now under contract. Mr. Buralli was especially attracted by the infrastructure improvements made by the State of Illinois for the City of Harvard and the surrounding area. We are very pleased that a new chapter is about to begin for our former facility. We wish Mr. Buralli and the people of Harvard the very best."
Details of the Proposed Attraction
The WATERPARK H2OTELS USA project, which has yet to be named, is expected to ultimately add hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in revenues to the local and regional economy. Buralli's plans call for the water park attraction to be fully operational by March of 2004, with the balance of the complex to open in phases.
Many of the features that will be integrated into the project already exist on the property. A fitness center, auditorium, classrooms, food service facility, daycare centers, volleyball and basketball courts and over five miles of walking trails are among the many amenities that were incorporated into Motorola's state-of-the-art manufacturing and distribution center when it opened in 1997.
Buralli's plans call for the water park to fully utilize the campus' 355,315 square foot former distribution center building and its existing 40,000 square foot upper-level mezzanine to offer multiple pools and activity areas, including a wave pool, rafting river, children's pools and multi-level tube slides, speed slides and other popular water park features. The highlight of the park will be a Master Blaster water-propelled roller coaster, which will become the largest indoor attraction of its kind in the country. A food court, restaurant, retail center and laser tag complex will also be available in the water park complex to serve resort guests and daily admission fee visitors.
The proposed indoor water park will become this country's largest, with nearly nine acres under roof.
Buralli cited the Schlitterbahn Water Park Resorts in Texas (www.schlitterbahn.com
) and the H2Oasis Waterpark in Anchorage Alaska (www.H2oasiswaterpark.com
) as similar water park concepts, and the Wisconsin Dells' Kalahari Resort (www.kalahariresort.com
) and Wilderness Resort (www.wildernessresort.com
) as similar resort complexes.
What the Project means to Harvard, the Region and the State
"This is the one of the best possible uses we could have envisioned for this facility," said Harvard Mayor Ralph Henning, who, along with Motorola, the State of Illinois and the Harvard Economic Development Corporation (HEDC), participated in a global search to find a new owner or use for the property. "Harvard is about to become a first-class, major resort and business convention center. The benefits to this city, this county and this state will be enormous."
The WATERPARK H2OTELS USA project is also expected to provide a huge boost to Illinois' tourism industry, which has struggled along with the rest of the nation in a slow economy over the last two years.
"This is exactly what people are looking for today: an exciting, affordable entertainment, recreational and resort opportunity that is close to home," said Buralli. "Every entertainment option a family could want will now be within an easy drive of the entire Chicago metropolitan area," he noted.
Buralli predicts that the complex will capture a strong share of the overnight and day trip tourism and business traveler volume in the Midwest. "Our marketing area will initially have a 200-mile radius and we expect to draw visitors within a four-hour drive," said Buralli. "The Chicago, Rockford, Madison, Milwaukee and Dubuque regional markets are all within easy reach of Harvard."
Harvard's Metra commuter rail station will also help visitors reach the attraction from Chicago and the northwest suburbs, noted Buralli. The current Metra schedule for Harvard includes nine weekday trains, six on Saturdays and seven on Sundays and holidays.
Illinois residents spend millions of dollars each year at out of state attractions and resorts. Now many of those residents may choose to stay closer to home for leisure and entertainment.
"The development of the Motorola property into a major entertainment complex will help keep a greater share of our tourism and tax dollars at home, where they will benefit Illinois schools, roads and businesses," said Harvard Economic Development Corporation Chairman Jay Nolan. "We have very great expectations for the project."
"New jobs and drastically increased sales tax and hotel tax revenues will be the most obvious benefits," said Nolan. The complex and the millions of visitors it is expected to attract each year will also help Harvard attract other new businesses and complete the revitalization of its downtown area, a certified MainStreet district.
Harvard area schools also stand to benefit greatly, noted Mayor Henning. "Mr. Buralli's plans will ensure that the property remains productive and on the tax rolls, so that it will benefit our schools and our community for many years to come," he noted. "The project itself will not put any new students in the halls and it has the potential to greatly increase revenues to our schools in the future."
Where We Are Today
The expansive Motorola property and buildings sit only miles from the Wisconsin state line in McHenry County and are now poised to claim a new owner and a new use. Colorful survey stakes stand out against the lush green of the rolling, well-maintained campus grounds, providing the first signs of an exciting new venture that will benefit Harvard, McHenry County and Illinois.
"This is very good news for everyone involved," said Henning.
The property, which is currently zoned for manufacturing, must be rezoned to a commercial/recreational district in order to accommodate the new use. Buralli will soon approach the City with that request, which could be reviewed by the Harvard City Council as early as August.
Rumors of the contract and pending sale began circulating around Harvard last week and Buralli, who is still working to finalize plans for the complex, decided to speak publicly about it.
"This project is so exciting and will offer so many benefits to this community that people want and need to know about it," he explained.
"This facility is one of the largest assets in the state of Illinois," agreed HEDC Executive Director Greco. "Finding a productive new use for it was a priority for everyone involved."
Although the search for a new owner reached worldwide, ownership of the facility will remain close to home. The expansive campus still surrounded by cornfields on Harvard's northernmost edge will have a company led by a local business man as its new owner. Buralli is a lifelong McHenry County resident and a member of the Board of Directors of the HEDC.
"There's no doubt about it," said Henning. "This is a huge local success story with a very happy ending."
The Motorola Harvard Campus: Features four existing buildings: 1) 407,347 sq. ft. five-story office building; 2) 619,590 sq. ft. two-story manufacturing building; 3) 355, 315 sq. ft. single-story office support building with a 40,000 sq. ft. upper mezzanine; 4) 165,665 sq. ft. two-story building with 1,100-seat cafeteria, training center, banking facility and indoor auditorium. Approximately 1.5 million total sq. ft. under roof on an approximately 300-acre campus.
Tourism statistics report that day trip and overnight visitors will typically drive up to four hours (200 miles) to visit a regional attraction by car. Chicago area residents drive 100 to 200 miles to get to Wisconsin's Lake Geneva and Wisconsin Dells resort areas. Harvard is located approximately 60 miles northwest of Chicago and is accessible by state highways and the Metra commuter rail system, which makes 6-9 stops in Harvard on a daily basis.
Motorola, Inc. (NYSE:MOT) is a global leader in providing integrated communications and embedded electronic solutions. Sales in 2002 were $27.3 billion. Motorola is a global corporate citizen dedicated to ethical business practices and pioneering important technologies that make things smarter and life better for people, honored traditions that began when the company was founded 75 years ago this year. For more information, please visit: www.motorola.com.