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After Almost 17 Years On The Market, 330-Acre Site Finally Sells

When Slone Commercial’s Joyce Slone began representing a farmer looking to offload a tract of land in suburban Yorkville, Illinois, in April 2007, Apple hadn’t released the first iPhone yet. Nearly 17 years and 42 iPhone models later, the Elmhurst-based broker finally sold three parcels totaling almost 330 acres for more than $10.1M to EPC Holdings and SOO Green.  

The transactions included some of the last large parcels of land available for industrial development in the Interstate 55 submarket, and they will all be a part of the Lincoln Prairie industrial development. Slone closed on the final parcel at the end of last year, and JLL is marketing the site to be developed into a large industrial building or data center.

“It's going to put Yorkville on the map,” Slone said. “It's going to bring so many jobs, and everybody's been so great to work with over the years. It ended up being a win-win for everybody waiting this long.”

Joyce Slone

Slone initially represented the father of the family who owned the land when she began marketing the property nearly two decades ago, but after he died, she continued to work with his sons.

Slone began her lengthy journey to market the property innocuously. She was representing a lumber company that needed 50 acres with access to the railroad. That led her to the property's owner, whose land matched her client’s description. The owner, the family’s father, wanted a price above market value for the undeveloped farmland, so the deal didn’t materialize. 

But the owner, today doing business as NGH Farms and 5H LLC, struck an agreement to work with her to sell that parcel, as well as additional land in the area. 

The Great Recession hindered progress on a deal because it slowed down all activity for years, Slone said. When transactions picked back up, it was hard to find buyers interested in large pieces of land like the 230-acre parcel she was also aiming to sell.

“I've had proposals,” Slone said. “It's not like it sat there. But it just had to be a special user and the time had to be right for a developer to come in.”

Another major hindrance to a sale over the years was that the buyer would have to develop infrastructure at its own expense. However, as Yorkville and the area surrounding the parcels of land developed, the infrastructure costs became less prohibitive, Slone said. 

Throughout the years Slone marketed the property, she said she received offers for either smaller portions of the land or from developers that had conditions the owners weren't willing to meet. 

“So many people called me wanting 20 acres or so, but the thing is, you had to bring all the utilities to the site, and to do all that for 20 acres or 10 acres, it just didn't make sense,” Slone said. “It had to be all or nothing.”

The growing data center sector provided a perfect match for the land, as it has access to large amounts of power that developers are unlikely to find elsewhere, she said. 

In the largest of the three transactions, Slone represented NGH Farms in its $6.4M sale of 229 acres at Eldamain Road and Faxon Road in Yorkville to EPC Holdings. The land is divisible and zoned for industrial, and it will have direct access to the railway. Its certification from BNSF Railway ensures it is ready for rapid acquisition and development through a comprehensive evaluation that minimizes risk, according to a news release announcing the sale.

EPC Holdings also acquired 52 acres at Corneils Road and Eldamain Road in Yorkville from Five H for $2M. Both parcels will become part of the Lincoln Prairie industrial development.

In addition, Slone represented Five H in its sale of the 48-acre Lot 6 along Corneils Road to SOO Green for $1.7M. SOO Green is an electricity transmission project that will install high-voltage direct current transmission cable underground along existing railroad corridors. This green form of energy will power users of the Lincoln Prairie development, providing a sustainable source beneficial for heavy electricity users like data centers or manufacturers.

Slone said she learned the ropes, including patience, from her father, who was a developer. The long-awaited sale is something of a culmination of her decades of experience as a broker, she said.

“I was used to turning cornfields into an industrial park through my dad,” Slone said. “It's in my blood. It's like my full circle, my swan song. I've been a broker for 40 years, just about. It's been quite a career.”