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Despite society standstill, construction continues in DeKalb County

Randy Decker, project manager with The Suter Company, points out some of the features of the new construction during a tour of the addition at The Suter Company on Bethany Road in Sycamore.
Randy Decker, project manager with The Suter Company, points out some of the features of the new construction during a tour of the addition at The Suter Company on Bethany Road in Sycamore.

It's been two months since Ferarra Candy Company announced DeKalb won a bid from the Chicago-based confectioner to invest $100 million into the city's south side and build a 1.6 million-square-foot distribution center.

A lot has happened since: over 11,000 Illinoisans have been diagnosed with a viral respiratory disease, and the coronavirus pandemic has brought many local businesses to a grinding halt in an attempt to mitigate the spread. Construction workers, however, deemed essential under Gov. J.B. Pritzker's executive stay-at-home order, remain on the job.

In the ChicagoWest Business Center along Gurler Road, the shell of the distribution facility has been built, and City Manager Bill Nicklas said crews are working now to connect concrete to steel.

"They're doing all they can do whether there's a COVID-19 crisis or not," Nicklas said. "All the outer precast concrete walls are up. Those are ultimately connected to a steel system which provides structural strength over time."

Cranes and iron workers will next begin putting in doors and windows, Nicklas said.

By the second quarter of 2021, the facility will have employed 500 people, according to a news release, with an additional 500 expected as multiple phases of the complex are completed.

Despite the uncertain future, Nicklas said the timeline continues.

"It's going along," Nicklas said. "We're delighted they're within the constraints of the healthy guidance, and they are pressing ahead. We are in lockstep together on this."

Meijer still eyeing spring opening

Final plumbing, electrical, and HVAC inspections have begun at the new Meijer grocery store, 541 Puri Pkwy., Sycamore, said John Sauter, director of building and engineering for the City of Sycamore.

The new 159,264-square-foot building, which is being constructed by Rockford Construction and will also have a pharmacy, is slated to open during the spring, according to the company's website. But, so far, there still is no opening date, Sauter said.

"They haven't disclosed that to us yet," Sauter said about any opening date for the store.

However, a good sign for the business is that there is a temporary certificate of occupancy for Meijer associates to work inside the 3,400 square-feet fuel center that sits between the main building and Peace Road, Sauter said in an email.

Sauter said the certificate enables employees to go in and set up equipment and stock shelves.

As for the main store, Sauter said the store looks like it's starting to come together.

"[They've] got a lot of the shelving up and the display racks too," Sauter said. "They're not quite ready to open, but I would think in the near future they would have everything in place."

The Meijer store will also have a Starbucks kiosk inside.

PetIQ, which does "light veterinary services," will sit next door to Meijer. The veterinary clinic will be able to provide shots. It will not provide procedures or surgeries.

The Suter Company

Tim Suter, president and CEO of The Suter Co. Inc., said the expansion at the company's manufacturing facility, 1015 W. Bethany Rd., Sycamore, is on schedule.

Suter said after the company broke ground on the expansion at the Bethany Road location in September, the progress has gone well. A mild winter has helped along the construction process.

"It should be done in June," Suter said. "When it's finished there'll be about 30 of us moving to the new office space."

The office addition is for two stories, with approximately 10,000 square feet per story, Suter said in an email. The office is a mixture of private offices, cubicles, meeting space, training space, break areas, and workout rooms.

Suter said as the company continues to grow, there are needs that must be met. One of those needs come from the company's inability to add to the offices and manufacturing facility, 258 May St., Sycamore.

"Whether for office space, or meeting space, the facility on May Street, we don't have any additional room for growth," Suter said. "As we hire additional people, we need more room."

Suter knew the company would have to grow elsewhere.

"Our long-term facility plan has always been to grow at the Bethany [Road] facility and this is just another step in that process," Suter said. The facility on Bethany Road was built in 2007.

However, the company will still use the May Street location.

Russ Smith Construction is in charge of the expansion and Suter said that company has done all of their projects throughout the years, as well as the most recent one in 2018, when The Suter Co. Inc., expanded the production facility at the Bethany Road plant.

Suter said his employees are excited to move into the new space, since they'll have more room to operate.

"People are now sharing offices," Suter said. "Often times it's difficult to find space to meet, whether it's to meet customers, or suppliers. The space at May Street has become very crowded."

While Suter wouldn't share the project's price of the project he said the company is fortunate that Russ Smith Construction does projects that stay on time and stay on budget.

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