The ULI Chicago Product Council Blue Flight recently met for their final, half-day Council meeting at the Perkins+Will “Cloud” conference room on the 18th floor of the Wrigley Building. The agenda featured urban infill mixed-use development and redevelopment projects and included two panels, four presentations from Blue Flight members and several roundtable discussions. Council members had ample time to network in between sessions and had an inside look at several exciting projects around the City.
The Wrigley Building Renovation
The first presentation of the day highlighted Zeller’s recent redevelopment of the iconic, 1924 vintage Wrigley Building which only received landmark status in 2012. Jan Goldsmith of Zeller Realty Group walked the group through the redevelopment process and Fred Schmidt from host, Perkins+Will, discussed the design of their space. Upon launching the renovation in 2012, Zeller engaged a massive team of architects, lawyers and consultants. One of the more controversial projects was the redesign of the plaza which was previously blocked off from Michigan Avenue due to an active train spur running behind the building. The lease-up for Zeller has been ahead of pro forma (11% occupancy upon acquisition) and aided by the success of several spec build-outs of office suites.
Fred Schmidt’s self-proclaimed greatest accomplishment with regard to the Perkins+Will space design was that he had “nothing to do with it.” He explained that designing an architectural firm’s own office suite is the most thankless job imaginable but also that the team at P+W who did lead the design did “an incredible job with the space.” The company was able to downsize by approximately 15% from their former space in AMA Plaza and provide significantly more open space for collaboration and presentations. The suite’s density came in at 197 SF per person and 100% of the work spaces are electronic sit/stand capable. A large percentage of P+W employees now stand at their desk for at least a portion of the day.
Millennium Mile: The Magnificent Mile Moves South
The second item on the agenda was a panel discussion of The Magnificent Mile’s southward momentum both towards and beyond the river. The panel was moderated by John Vance with Stone Real Estate Group and featured Jan Goldsmith with Zeller, Sarang Peruri with Oxford Capital Group and Chad Broderick with The John Buck Company. All the panelists agreed that the completion of Millennium Park was the biggest catalyst driving activity southwards. Jan’s two biggest projects in the corridor are the Wrigley Building and 401 N. Michigan. Oxford has four projects in the vicinity including The London House Hotel and 168 N. Michigan, another hospitality project. John Buck’s biggest recent play in the area is 200 N. Michigan, which was temporarily contemplated as a hotel, but then finalized as residential development given the improving multifamily market and growing desire of renters to live downtown. All of the panelists were excited about the redevelopment of the Tribune Building as well as the more imminent Apple move to 401 N. Michigan. John mentioned that Apple had originally refused to consider space south of Ohio, but a locally based Director with the company literally walked them through all of the activity around the intersection of Michigan and the River and helped drive the decision to relocate to 401 N. Michigan.
Know Your Council Members
The Know Your Council Members portion of the event featured David Kennedy with KTGY Architecture, Todd Stofflet with Kiser Institutional Group and Clara Wineberg with Solomon Cordwell Buenz. David highlighted new design trends in the apartment sector and Todd demonstrated several cutting edge software programs that KIG has built to track key metrics in the multi-family sector. The software provides three dimensional displays of all new multi-family construction in Chicago, the lease-up of all large scale apartment deliveries downtown, and sub-market trends by demographics, income, home prices and several other key inputs. These video demonstrations can be accessed at kigcre.com/uli/. Finally, Clara shared SCB’s long history and significant influence in the Streeter neighborhood. Starting with McClurg Court in the early 70’s followed by The Streeter , Park View, The Moment, 500 LSD and the recent Loews hotel and apartment building. SCB’s focus has been on creating projects with unique identities that target a growing downtown residential populous. Each project’s design maximized views towards Lake Michigan and made significant contributions towards activating and contributing to the streetscape and neighborhood.
New Development Along the Hipster Highway
The final panel of the day focused on the “Hipster Highway,” the rapidly gentrifying stretch of Milwaukee Avenue from Wicker Park through Logan Square. Bill Toliopoulos, a partner with Laurie and Brennan, lead the conversation and Scott Gendell, President of Terraco Real Estate, talked the group through his latest project, Logan’s Crossing. Bill commented that there are currently 1,100 units and 225k SF of retail under construction along just 6 blocks of Milwaukee Avenue. Scott’s project, a JV with Fifield, sits on the site of the former Logan Square Mega Mall. The site has 925 feet of frontage along Milwaukee and accounts for 240 of those residential units and 106k SF of the retail, a significant portion of which is pre-leased. The project has a 40k SF fitness center tenant, a 7.5k SF brew pub and a food store anchor, all of which will be announced in the next few weeks. The development did not come without its complications and Scott worked with a number of preservation groups, neighborhood councils and affordable housing proponents to arrive at the ultimate design and composition of the project.
This was the final Blue Flight Council meeting for 2016 and included an announcement that Council Chair, Jim Smith, Kensington Realty Advisors, Inc. will be stepping down and Christy Lockridge, Principal, Prudential Mortgage Capital Company, will be taking over the chair position for 2017. See photos from both Blue and Green Council half-day meetings.
The ULI Chicago Product Council Program consists of two, broadly-based urban development and mixed-use Councils with over 90 ULI members involved. Council membership is for one year and includes an application process and program fees. The Request for Applications for the 2017 CPC program will be announced soon.
Authored by Matt Milich, Pearlmark and CPC Blue Flight Member