- Dec 17, 2015
At their December meeting, Village Trustees gave high marks for an expansion proposed by Northbrook’s prestigious engineering firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates (WJE) and indicated their support for granting a 6b on the project. Northbrook is WJE’s official corporate headquarters.
The company, a globally recognized firm with engineers, architects, and materials scientists who specialize in the investigation, analysis, testing, and design of repairs for historic and contemporary structures, currently occupies four buildings in Sky Harbor totaling 110,728 square feet. According to company officials, WJE needs to update and expand its laboratory; construction of the new space is determined to be more cost effective than trying to rehab its current space. WJE is proposing a total investment of $25 million in building and site improvements. The plan is to demolish two of the existing buildings totaling 42,420 square feet and replace them with a 69,390 square foot building addition onto one of the current buildings. The total square footage would increase to 137,698 square feet. The expansion would allow space for 68 additional professionals, added to the current 190 already in Northbrook.
“Our headquarters have been located in Northbrook for nearly fifty years and this location has served us very well,” said Steve Zimmerman, WJE senior associate and project manager. “We look forward to being part of this outstanding community for many years to come.”
Northbrook is the current center of a majority of WJE’s current laboratory work. The company has operations in 19 other locations nationwide, with additional laboratory facilities in Austin, Texas, and Cleveland, Ohio.
According to the application, WJE is requesting a Cook County Class 6b only on the new construction. The lower assessment rates would apply only to the added value resulting from the new construction. Under the 6b program properties are assessed at 10% of market value for the first 10 years, 15% in the 11th year and 20% in the 12th year. In year 13 the property is assessed at the full 25% of market value.
Currently, over a 12 year period, the site generates over $3.7 million in property taxes. With the construction of the new space projected taxes over 12 years would be slightly over $4.2 million if the 6b request is granted. Taxes would be $6.55 million without the 6b.
With one exception, Trustees indicated unanimously that they would vote favorably on a request for a Cook County 6b classification on the new construction.
“I have heard from other business leaders and I concur that this is exactly why 6bs were created,” commented Village President Sandy Frum. “This is a company that I do not want to lose.” Trustees echoed her support. “As an engineer I am proud to have Wiss Janney in our community,” commented Trustee Bob Israel, who indicated his strong support for the 6b. “I wish they were all this easy,” noted Trustee Jim Karagianis who commented on the added advantage of bringing in high paying jobs. The sole opponent was Village Trustee Todd Heller who stated his objections in general to 6bs as unfair to other businesses.