JOLIET – Hawk Auto now plans to move its Subaru dealership to Plainfield.
Hawk is targeting a site at Route 59 and Fraser Road, which, if the deal is done, would provide a new location for its Subaru dealership now located on Jefferson Street in Joliet.
"I certainly tried to stay in Joliet," said Hawk President John Crane.
Crane, who said he is under pressure from Subaru to move the dealership to Route 59, pursued three different sites along the highway in Joliet but faced problems with all of them.
He met resistance from a Joliet City Council committee in March when he sought approval for a location at Theodore Street on the northwest corner. Crane also approached the Joliet Park District about buying land for sale in front of the Wedgewood Golf Course but was not able to make a deal, he said.
Hawk now is in the process of acquiring 15 acres on the southwest corner at Fraser Road.
"All we have is a contract to purchase the land," Crane said. "We're doing our due diligence, and nothing's concrete yet."
The site already has the business zoning required for a car dealership, said Jon Proulx, planning director for the village of Plainfield.
Proulx said no development plan for the Subaru dealership has been presented to the village. If a plan is submitted, it would go through a site plan review, he said. The review includes lighting, parking, landscaping, building elevations and other matters.
Hawk appeared to be ready to move to the northwest corner at Theodore Street when Crane approached the city council Land Use and Legislative Committee in March.
Crane wanted a recommendation to change an existing development plan put in place about 10 years ago when developers wanted to build Tower Marketplace, an upscale retail and restaurant project that has not developed.
Councilwoman Jan Quillman voiced concerns about space available for the car dealership, and the committee decided not to make a recommendation. Instead, the committee asked Crane to make a presentation to the full council, which he never did.
"I was a little disappointed to not get support at that meeting, but I wouldn't call that the straw that broke the camel's back," Crane said.
He ran into other problems on the site, Crane said, when LA Fitness, the one business to move into Tower Marketplace, exercised its rights under a restrictive covenant to object to the plan being changed to allow a car dealership.
Crane also approached the Joliet Park District about land for sale in front of the Wedgewood Golf Course at Caton Farm Road.
"I think the park district was concerned about the number of golf balls flying around that cars and that a different use (of the land) would be better," he said. "I disagree. I think something could have been done."
Park District Executive Director Tom Carstens would not comment on the discussions with Hawk.
"We're in negotiations with another company (on the land)," Carstens said. "If they fall through, we don't know what direction we'll go."