CHICAGO—Google has generated headlines by choosing to abandon the suburbs and occupy old-fashioned downtown buildings like the Merchandise Mart. But some companies, such as Sunstar Americas, Inc., still find suburban, campus-like developments attractive. The manufacturer has just bought nearly 80 acres in unincorporated Cook County and will break ground later this month on a 300,000-square-foot North American headquarters and manufacturing facility that will replace their operations on the city’s Northwest Side. The village of Schaumburg has agreed to annex the site, located just north of I-90 and east of the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament facility.
“We had been traipsing up and down I-90 for four-and-a-half years,” says Greg Wright of Paine/Wetzel/TCN Worldwide, who represented Sunstar in their search for a new home. The company’s goal was a “trophy” headquarters set on about 20 acres of green space, and easily seen by the thousands of motorists who pass through the area every day. They finally set their sights on land owned by the Archdiocese of Chicago.
“The archdiocese has held onto the land for decades and always rebuffed offers,” Wright says. “They rebuffed us at first.” And when church officials changed their minds, “we had to bite off a little more land than we wanted.” But Sunstar eventually agreed to buy the 80-acre plot in the hopes they can eventually use it to accommodate future growth.
A manufacturer of many consumer products, Sunstar hopes the location will help get their name out to potential customers. “It doesn’t hurt to have your headquarters on a major highway. And having the moniker of a high-profile village like Schaumburg is also notable.”
Sunstar plans to build a campus-like office complex with two or three stories. The manufacturing building, however, will be the centerpiece. “It’s not going to be a cold industrial structure; they want it to be very high-image,” says Wright. Passing motorists will “be hard-pressed to tell it’s a manufacturing facility.”