DOWNERS GROVE – A proposal by FlavorChem Corp. to create a corporate campus by closing Brook Drive in the Oak Grove Business Park was unanimously approved Sept. 12 by the Downers Grove Village Council over the objections of neighboring businesses.
The council granted FlavorChem a license to close Brook Drive between Centre Circle and Downers Drive. The street currently bisects the FlavorChem complex, preventing the creation of a unified campus.
The license differs from vacating the street, as the village will maintain ownership of the roadway. Brook Drive would reopen if FlavorChem ever moved from the location, officials said.
FlavorChem, a manufacturer of flavor and color solutions for the food and beverage industries, maintains eight buildings in the business park, which is north of Butterfield Road.
Closing Brook Drive would allow employees to walk more easily across the campus and create an opportunity for additional parking. The company also plans to redesign, expand and improve the facilities.
Brook Drive is currently used for local businesses to access their buildings and by other residents who use Brook Drive as a cut-through, avoiding the intersection of Finley and Butterfield roads.
The Downers Grove Plan Commission had voted 6-1 against the proposal.
Michael O’Connor, an attorney for United States Brass and Copper, 1401 Brook Drive, said commissioners ignored the concerns of other tenants in the business park.
“Should the street be vacated? No, it should not be vacated,” O’Connor said. “The village is going to be giving up Brook Drive to a private corporation for no compensation. It makes no sense.”
O’Connor, who also spoke at the Sept. 5 council meeting, said the decision will have a negative impact on surrounding businesses and could impact property values.
Dave Kavanaugh, president of United States Brass and Copper, said he was disappointed the council did not discuss the proposal in detail prior to the vote.
“I can tell you I’m very disappointed in the vote and the outcome,” Kavanaugh said. “We know the congestion; we know the need for those streets.”
Mayor Martin Tully said the move has its advantages, including improving public safety and providing an economic development incentive for a company in Downers Grove.
“The negative impact that has been described is minimal at best,” Tully said.
He added the village had identified cut-through traffic on Brook Drive as a safety concern long before the FlavorChem proposal.
“It’s something we thought would be a good idea,” Tully said. “This is not unprecedented, far from it.”
Commissioner Bill White agreed the move does not limit access in the business park.
“No one is being denied access,” White said.
Commissioner Bob Barnett agreed.
“Nobody loses access to either Finley or Butterfield [roads] under this scenario,” Barnett said. “That, to me, is a pretty material issue. It’s not as though a wall is being built, so to speak.”
FlavorChem moved to Downers Grove from Bellwood in 1981. The family-owned and operated company employs about 250.