THE MOVE

Auto Parts City Fights To Modernize Its Facility



Jay Brosten and Larry Brosten battled two municipalities to build their dream auto recycling facility in Gurnee, Ill.

PHOTO: CRAIG HATHAWAY

When Auto Parts City, Inc. relocated to its new location across the street, it was a major victory that was years in the making. The auto recycling facility had battled two municipalities, and many complaints, to get there.

"We wanted to expand our facility and make it state-of-the-art," explained Larry Brosten, co-owner. "We couldn't do it on our current location because of how the property was characterized as a 'legal nonconforming use of the land.' That meant we could operate as usual but we could not modernize or expand."

"So we bought an existing contractor's facility with 19.5 acres that was literally across the street," added his brother Jay Brosten, co-owner of the business. "The land stretched across two municipalities, 15 acres in Gurnee, Ill. and 4.5 acres in Park City, Ill."

The purchase seemed fine. But Larry and Jay could not anticipate the resulting outcry. It came from citizen groups representing homeowners whose mobile homes bordered the property. It came from town officials who saw auto recycling facilities as undesirable junkyards. Concerns included noise pollution and reduced property values.

"Nobody wanted it anywhere near them," explained Larry. "That was our biggest hurdle. A state-of-the-art recycling yard is not the problem; it's the solution. But it was hard to demonstrate that to people until they saw it for themselves, and we couldn't build until they approved the project."

The brothers bent over backwards to submit paperwork and answer concerns. They worked diligently to earn approval from both municipalities. They agreed to a list of 29 conditions, which covered everything from the hours of operation to construction of a sound-resistant building for crushing vehicles.

Finally, in October 2007, Auto Parts City (APCity.com) received approval. Ground was broken by the end of the year. The Brostens worked on creating their vision during the next two years. The facility debuted in February 2010.

"We might be moving from one side of the street to the other," Larry remarked. "But in terms of the facility, this move will put us at the forefront of 21st century auto recycling."

The new facility is 10,000 square feet and includes all of the bells and whistles you might expect from an upscale operation.

The new buildings are heated with recycled oil. Two buildings feature radiant heat in the floors. There is high-energy output lighting, as well as skylights and many windows for natural lighting.

The facility uses sophisticated drainage systems. "Every fluid that can be drawn from the vehicle is drawn," Larry asserted. "All evacuated fluids are in containment, and there's a second protective layer in case of leakage."

The crusher is electrical, which is much quieter than a diesel model. The plumbing is low-flow and includes a tankless hot-water heater. Outside, the Brostens planted wild grass and left four acres natural.

"This is as nice as any upscale auto store, garage or dealership," said Larry. "We went above and beyond and have taken auto recycling to the highest standard."

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