Navistar International is selling its Melrose Park research and technical center to an industrial developer and will lay off half the facility’s 500 employees.
The truck manufacturer said the other half of the workers will be offered jobs at other locations, including the company headquarters in Lisle. Navistar said it expects to leave the 80-acre campus at 10400 W. North Ave. by November.
In a news release Wednesday, the company declined to disclose the buyer, but said the purchaser “has an actionable plan to redevelop the parcel into a state-of-the-art industrial park.” It said the plans will create more jobs than Navistar provides there. There was no immediate comment from Melrose Park village officials.
Navistar used to manufacture engines at Melrose Park, but said in a corporate filing that it stopped doing do in May 2018. Since then, the site has been devoted to engine testing and research. It also includes used truck sales.
Testing demand, however, has declined because Navistar is making fewer engines and the trucking industry is moving to alternative fuel drivetrains, the company said. It also has moved some manufacturing to a facility in Huntsville, Ala.
“Given changes at Navistar and in the industry, it no longer makes sense to maintain a facility of that size,” said Phil Christman, Navistar’s president of operations. “While this decision is difficult, it is necessary to best position Navistar for the future and to unlock economic growth for the Melrose Park community.”
Navistar is selling itself to Traton, the truck division of Volkswagen, in a $3.7 billion deal expected to close around midyear.
The site contains two million square feet of industrial space, a Navistar spokesman said. The company reported it will take an $85 million charge for its exit from the facility, including about $40 million in cash expenses.
It said redevelopment will more than double property tax revenue for local governments.
The area got a boost last year when Amazon moved into 623,000 square feet in three buildings on the site of the old Maywood Park racetrack, which is within Melrose Park.