Hoffman Center to open this fall

By Ken Goze

The NIU Hoffman Estates Center will fill its classrooms for the first time this fall, more than a year after the bitter “turf wars” with private institutions that threatened its existence.

Tom Montiegel, NIU vice president for Development and University Relations, said development is running smoothly and the center will open on schedule in August.

The $6.2 million center will offer mostly graduate-level business and liberal arts and sciences courses, replacing 30 rented sites in the northwest suburbs. Montiegel said leases for the old sites had year-long terms and will not be renewed.

Montiegel said he expects an enrollment between 2,000 and 2,500, if most students follow from the old sites. He said the center could handle as many as 4,000 students “very comfortably.”

“We may see some enrollment growth, but we have absolutely no track record to predict that,” Montiegel said.

Donald Davidson, assistant provost for resource planning, said tuition will be set in line with the going off-campus rates.

The center is part of the 800-acre Sears, Roebuck and Co. headquarters and office retail complex.

The village of Hoffman Estates donated the land, and the state provided about $61 million in tax and transportation incentives to develop the complex. The company on Monday named the sprawling complex Prairie Stone.

The project sparked a controversy during 1990, when Roosevelt University objected to the siting of the NIU center near its own Arlington Heights branch campus.

NIU will lease the center for 25 years while the park is developed and then assume ownership.