Workers make pan hard candies inside Ferrara Candy Company in Forest Park. The company, known for Lemonheads and Atomic Fireballs signed a 15-year lease on a 750,000 sq. foot warehouse space in Bolingbrook. File.

Are Forest Park’s candy-making days coming to a close?

Crain’s Chicago Business reported Thursday that Ferrara Candy Company has leased a former Home Depot distribution center warehouse along I-55 in Bolingbrook. Crain’s categorized the deal as “the largest industrial lease so far” in 2014. The warehouse, at 901 Carlow Drive, is almost 750,000 square feet. The duration of the lease is 15 years, Crain’s said.

The parcel is attractive to large facilities because of its proximity to the highway, Crain’s said. The William Wrigley Co. also leases property nearby.

Last year, the company that makes Lemonheads and Atomic Fireballs moved office operations westward by leasing office space in Oak Brook Terrace. The company also leased a 235,000-square-foot distribution center in Bellwood last year, according to Crain’s.

The Bolingbrook parcel was sold in June of 2012 to Heitman Real Estate for $34.56 million. At the time, it was leased by Home Depot, which moved its distributions to a new site in Joliet in 2013.

The company no longer has its namesake CEO at the helm. Salvatore (Sal) Ferrara II resigned last month as head of the company, though he told the Review he is still the largest shareholder in the company.

It is unclear whether the new industrial/warehouse space will be used for the production of candy and, if so, whether the new space will take over operations of candy-making from the Forest Park factory at 7301 Harrison St.

Ferrara Pan Candy Co. merged in 2012 with Catterton Partners, an investor group that owns Farley’s & Sather’s — makers of Chuckles and Brach’s hard candies.

The company shuttered two distribution plants shortly after the merger, one in Round Lake, Minn. and one in Chattanooga, Tenn. Around 200 people lost jobs in Tennessee and 100 in Round Lake, according to local news reports in those states.

The public relations firm representing Catteron Partners did not immediately respond to an email with questions about the new Bolingbrook facility.

Ferrara Pan moved to Forest Park in 1959, taking over an old Borden Dairy facility. The merger of the two candy giants took place in February 2012, shortly after the death of confection patriarch Nello Ferrara, 93, who lived in River Forest.

If the factory is shut down by Ferrara Candy, the company must provide notice according to the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. According to the act, any employer with more than 100 employees must provide 60 calendar days advance notice of a plant closing or mass layoff. The company employed 1,000 employees in all of its plants in the Chicago suburbs, Canada and Mexico, according to a business profile published in 2007. At one time 450 employees worked at the Forest Park plant. 

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...