ROMEOVILLE – An international pizza-making business will expand its Romeoville operations into the old Filotto Farm property on Airport Road with a state-of-the-art refrigeration facility after the Village Board approved a final plan Wednesday night.
The facility, at a top height of 97 feet and with more than $100 million invested by private entities, will be both the tallest building in Romeoville and one of the most heavily invested projects in the state, according to village staff.
It will contain a high-tech, automated storage and retrieval system to store food and ingredients. It will complement the existing building off of Chicago Tube Drive and Innovation Drive that currently makes all Aryzta pizzas in the country.
The plan passed on a 4-0 vote, with trustees Sue Micklevitz and Linda Palmiter absent. The village staff will work with developers on landscaping the building.
"I'm real happy to see that a manufacturing facility here in town is willing to expand," Trustee Joe Chavez said, adding that he was familiar with the retrieval system and it worked well. "I think it's a good project. It's an excellent source of revenue for this municipality."
The financial impact of the facility could have a very positive effect, Mayor John Noak said.
"The potential – again, it depends on the final assessed evaluation – would be upwards just shy of $1.3 million a year for all taxing bodies from this single project," Noak said, noting that the Valley View School District 365U could receive $800,000 in revenue per year from the project.
However, the facility also had its detractors.
Residents of the unincorporated area off Airport Road south of the farm have said that the plan for the facility underwent recent changes that makes it an eyesore and devalues their property.
Specifically, they had issues with changes that increase the height of the building to 80 feet with an additional 17-foot attachment for refrigeration equipment. The changes also allow the facility to have metal paneling instead of pre-cast concrete.
Developers say these changes are necessary for the automated retrieval system, which makes the assembly line process more efficient.
Chicago Tube & Iron, a company that recently celebrated its 100th year of operation and is next to Aryzta, said it supported the original plan, which called for a building about half the size of the final plan.
Several representatives from Chicago Tube & Iron, including President and CEO Don McNeeley, spoke against the new plan, mentioning the unattractiveness of metal paneling facing their building and the speed at which the plan changed.
"We like our neighbors. We like Aryzta," McNeeley said. "What I'm speaking to tonight is the residential neighbors. I want them to know that we're against this."
"It's important to note there is impact to the residents without a doubt, to residents whether they live in the village or not," Noak said.
But Noak said the economic impact of the facility would be huge for Romeoville.
A couple of nearby residents spoke for the plan.
Peter Osei, a resident who lives next to Aryzta, was excited about the expansion.
"Looking at how difficult it is to get jobs around here, things like this are totally welcome," Osei said.