Navistar hopes to set up HQ in Lisle

March 4, 2010 8:24:23 PM PST
A company that tests diesel engines is hoping to set up new headquarters in the southwest suburbs bringing with it thousands of new jobs.

Top officials with Navistar formally introduced plans Thursday afternoon to open its headquarters in Lisle. But not everyone is in support of the proposal.

More than half of the school buses on the road in United States are made by Navistar. They also make trucks and RVs.

The building looks like something out of Star Trek. The futuristic looking facility has been empty since Lucent Technologies vacated it. Navistar's current headquarters is in Warrenville, about three miles west of Lisle. But the company is proposing to take over the Lucent building for the bargain price of $34 million.

"We've been told it's one of the biggest projects that the state of Illinois has had in many, many years. And when you think of the kind of job that's in there, these are high-tech positions in most cases, it's pretty attractive we think for this area," said Dan Ustian, Navistar CEO.

The move would bring about 1,500 additional jobs to the building. Navistar says the total of 7,000 jobs in all will be preserved or added in the area if the plan is approved by village, county and state officials. According to the company, most of those jobs would be high-paying research and office work positions.

"There's obviously impact from a tax base but certainly having that many, having several thousand people located to this new campus, there's impacts to the hotels, to the restaurants, to the local stores. There's an awful lot of opportunity for the village of Lisle and the surrounding communities," said Donald Sharp, Navistar VP.

Initial plans for the site called for an engine testing facility just 600 feet from Giant Steps, a school for autistic children. That plan would have had them storing thousands of gallons of diesel fuel on site. Several neighbors protested. The new plan, however, moves the testing facility to the other side of the property. And dramatically reduces the testing and fuel storage. School officials have yet to see the new proposal.

"If they have dramatically revised the plan, like I said, nothing could be more beneficial to us than to have them next door," said Bridget O'Connor, Giant Steps School.

The village of Lisle is expected to hold planning and zoning commission hearings on this plan sometime perhaps early next month. If approved, Navistar also plans about $100 million worth of construction to cater the building to their specific needs.