The new Sears headquarters in Hoffman Estates will look a bitlike a combination of Sears Tower, a suburban mall and "MayberryRFD."
That's the description Sears officials and developers offered toHoffman Estates plan commission and zoning board members andresidents Saturday when they unveiled long-awaited plans for the newheadquarters during the first public hearing on the mammoth project.
Using more than 20 charts and drawings, developers walked overthe site of the proposed Sears Merchandise Group headquarterssouthwest of Higgins and Beverly roads. Last year, Sears announcedit was moving its 5,000 employees out of the Loop skyscraper to thenorthwest suburb.
"We realize that Sears' responsibility extends beyond a workenvironment to the local environment," Sears Merchandise GroupChairman Michael Bozic said. "We look forward to calling this areahome."
Sears proposes first to develop about 200 of 788 acres it ownsor is buying, bounded by the Northwest Tollway, Beverly Road, HigginsRoad and Illinois 59. The other 500 acres would be developed later,possibly for light industry, hotels and shops.
Developers anticipate that some 45,000 people would work in theentire area, slightly more than the population of Hoffman Estates.
Construction of the headquarters would create 750 jobs. DanHanesworth of Homart Development Co., which will oversee developmentof the site, said the employee payroll will amount to $2 billionannually.
But Sears officials cautioned that won't happen for at least 20years. For now, proposals call for five office buildings, nonetaller than six stories. The entire complex would have 1.4 millionfeet of office space, 5,000 trees, 71,000 ground-cover plants and16,000 shrubs.
The buildings, of mortar and reflective glass, would beconnected by a mall-like main corridor, featuring shops, a healthclub and an atrium.
South of the headquarters would be a municipal center for policeand firefighting facilities.
The municipal center, developers hope, will be the hub forbarbershops, newsstands and other small shops, giving a bucolic"Mayberry feel," a designer told about 60 Hoffman Estates residentsand officials at the hearing.
Two parking garages would provide 4,000 spaces.
To ease traffic congestion, Sears officials said, workers willhave staggered work schedules. Also, several roads would be widened:Illinois 59 to six lanes, Higgins Road to four lanes and Beverly Roadto three and eventually five lanes. Moreover, full interchanges withthe Northwest Tollway would be added at Illinois 59 and Beverly Road.
The state will pay for half of the road work, a lure it used tokeep the nation's largest retailer from leaving Illinois. Inaddition, a wildlife corridor would be established to protectwetlands and animals.
A resident, Bob Firth, said he was impressed by the plans. "Mymain concern was for the environmental impact, and from what I'veseen and heard, it looks good. It appears they've done theirhomework," he said.