Bears legend Dent’s company buying Park Forest building

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Bears great Richard Dent waves to fans when he received his Hall of Fame ring at halftime of the Bears-Packers game. The Chicago Bears lost 27-17 to the Green Bay Packers Sunday September 25, 2011 at Soldier Field in Chicago. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

A vacant industrial building in Park Forest has been sold to a company owned by former Bear Richard Dent, who plans to turn it into an energy research and training center.

The village board last week voted to sell the property at 80 North St. to Dent LLC for $750,000. The company is expected to spend $11 million renovating the building, village officials said.

They said the building will become known as the Great Lakes Center for Energy Smart Communities and will aim to develop new energy technologies and train people how to use them.

The center “also wants to work with Park Forest households in installing a lot of this technology throughout the village. They have some pretty lofty goals,” said Hildy Kingma, village director of economic development and planning.

Kingma said Dent’s goals fit in well with the village’s long-range plans to improve how businesses and homes use energy.

Mayor John Ostenburg has said the village hopes that once the enterprise is up and running, it will entice more firms to “locate in our industrial park.”

The 100,000-square-foot industrial building has been vacant for several years and has been a target for vandals, Kingma said.

The center could bring as many as 50 new jobs during its first 1½ years of operation, according to the company.

The agreement approved Monday night allows Dent to be reimbursed $500,000 by the village if the company does at least $1 million in renovations by June 30. The village hopes to close on the property before the end of the year.

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