Members of ULI Chicago’s Mentorship Program recently gathered with John Gavin, Principal at Sterling Bay, to brainstorm land-use and redevelopment ideas for the former Coyne College site in Fulton Market. The exercise, modeled after the District Council’s Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) program, provided Proteges and Mentors the opportunity to share their expertise to address a real land use challenge.
Coyne College, developed in 2004 by Smithfield Properties, is located on the northwest corner of N. Green Street and W. Wayman Street. Sterling Bay acquired the existing 76,000 square foot building and adjacent parking lot in July 2016 when the trade college relocated to the Loop. They are currently exploring uses for the space and agreed to allow our Mentorship Program participants to assist them.
The group kicked off the exercise with a walking tour of the College with Gavin explaining how, in addition to the existing office submarkets in downtown Chicago, Fulton Market/West Loop has emerged as its own with a distinct set of challenges including zoning, parking, and historic neighborhood requirements – all of which are currently faced by Sterling Bay. Gavin was therefore able to educate the group about the hurdles, some new and many old, that developers face in Chicago. Sterling Bay has had tremendous success in Fulton Market and the broader West Loop in recent years, including office projects such as the Google campus at 1K Fulton and the redevelopment of Oprah’s former Harpo Studios into McDonald’s corporate headquarters. These projects required vision on the part of the City, prospective tenants, and Sterling Bay to succeed. For example, 1K Fulton was a century-old cold storage building that was thawed and transformed into a LEED Gold certified office building and is now home to one of the world’s largest technology companies. The Coyne College redevelopment represents another opportunity for the creative re-use of an existing structure or possibly ground-up development. Tyler Hague, Vice President at Colliers and 2016 Protege, commented that “the conversation was a fun and interesting way to learn and strategize with other real estate professionals from different backgrounds and experiences.” Hague further added that, “the small group discussions allowed people to really step back and think ‘outside of the box’ to solve difficult real estate issues.”
Fulton Market is located just west of downtown Chicago, and is roughly bound by Hubbard Street, Halsted Street, Randolph Street, and Ogden Avenue. The 217-acre area is home to meat packers, food distributors, and manufacturers, along with a growing number of innovation-driven firms, restaurants, retailers, and leisure-oriented businesses. The majority of Fulton Market is zoned C-1 (neighborhood commercial district), which restricts most uses to small-scale business endeavors. However, the northern half of Fulton Market is zoned as a Planned Manufacturing District (“PMD”), prohibiting residential and certain commercial uses. This particular PMD, PMD-4, is known as the Kinzie Corridor and was established in 1998 with the intent of protecting and promoting the industrial base in the neighborhood. The Coyne College site falls within the Kinzie Corridor PMD and, as such, will require a zoning change for nearly any type of commercial redevelopment.
Mentorship participants agreed that the redevelopment exercise showcased the intricacies and difficulties presented with development and redevelopment in a pioneering office submarket. The group tackled how to maximize the impact to a neighborhood while dealing with the challenges posed by a unique set of circumstances. Andy Cooper, Senior Financial Analyst at Ventas and 2016 Protege, concluded that the exercise was a “great opportunity both to learn from experts in the field [John Gavin and Mentors] about getting deals done with local city officials, while coming up with our own ideas and touring arguably the hottest up-and coming submarket in Chicago.” Mentorship events such as these continue to be an excellent occasion for young real estate professionals to learn from industry experts how to best solve real estate related challenges and seek out emerging opportunities while also promoting change and innovation in a city that is centuries old.
The ULI Chicago Mentorship Program will conclude with a formal reception in December of this year. Applications for the 2017 Mentorship Program will be accepted early next year.
Authored by Julie Heigel, Pearlmark and Mentorship Program 2016 Co-Chair