BLOOMINGDALE – Julian Perez hopes to turn an abandoned Bloomingdale sheet metal factory into a state-of-the-art shooting range, but some residents want him to move his plans elsewhere.
The Roselle resident and firearms instructor has proposed to transform the building, located at 7 N. Circle Ave., into a 43,000-square-foot facility equipped with four separate shooting ranges, an Airsoft range, simulated video range, classrooms, museum, library, on-site repair and cleaning services, and a retail store.
The facility, located on nearly five acres of land, also would include 91 parking spaces, most of which would be located behind the building, Perez said.
"Millions of people shoot for recreation across the country," he said. "It's truly no different than a bowling alley or a golf course, it's just people coming in and shooting firearms."
Known as The Range Bloomingdale, the proposed facility would provide firearm instruction, including training required for state-issued concealed carry licenses.
Illinois became the final state in the nation to offer the permits after a judge ruled last year that the state's ban was unconstitutional. Thousands of residents have already applied for the new licenses, Perez said.
The Bloomingdale facility won't be a typical dark-and-dingy shooting range, but instead "a very woman- and family-friendly business," he said.
If his plans are approved by the Bloomingdale Village Board of Trustees, the range also will be the first in the state to achieve a five-star rating from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry, Perez said.
To meet the criteria for a five-star rating, a facility must "demonstrate excellence in all aspects of management and operations," including appearance, customer service and amenities, according to the organization's website.
"We'll try to be the Nordstrom of gun ranges," Perez said.
But at a recent public hearing hosted by Bloomingdale's Plan Commission, some neighbors of the proposed range expressed concern about its potential impacts on traffic, noise and safety in the area.
"Our biggest concern is the location of the range being so close to our houses," said Bloomingdale resident Tony Halachoulis, adding that his home is located just 33 feet from the proposed range.
A gun owner and retired police officer, Halachoulis said he and other opponents of the facility are "not opposed to a gun range in Bloomingdale."
But they are concerned about increased traffic, the safety of children walking in the neighborhood, the noise of gun shots and the facility's ventilation system, as well as a potential decrease in area home values, he said.
"Some of my neighbors talked to real estate agents who told them, 'Yes, [the gun range] would decrease your property value,'" Halachoulis said.
He said he's also recorded the sound of gun shots and ventilation systems as far away as 200 feet from ranges located in West Dundee and Lombard.
But Perez said a hired consultant determined noise from both ventilation and shooting would be well below ambient sound levels.
Still, Halachoulis would prefer Perez to move the facility to a less populated location.
Perez insists his range will be several notches above the norm. And if there are any issues, "we'll fix it," he said.
"You can't compare Walmart to Nordstrom," Perez said. "The absolute best facility in the entire country is what we plan to have."
A third public hearing on the issue is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 15 at the Bloomingdale Golf Club, 181 Glen Ellyn Road, Village Administrator Martin Bourke said.
It's unknown whether the Plan Commission will issue a recommendation on the proposed range that evening, Bourke said.