Month: September 2019

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Here are the priciest Chicago listings…

Written by The Real Deal

From left: 38 East Elm Street; 432 West Grant Place, Unit 1E; 25 East Superior Street E $4602 (Credit: Redfin) Four out of five of this week’s priciest listings were condominiums, which these days tend to fare better than single-family homes in Chicago’s luxury market. But there was one notable exception, in a 1920s-era red brick mansion. The list also includes a unique listing at the Heritage, a condo with a Japanese garden that has water misters, a lily pond, and a waterfall. 38 East Elm Street | Near North Side | $4.65 million Built in 1920 but extensively renovated, this red brick single-family home is asking $1 million more than it sold for in 2014. The 7,200-square-foot building spans four floors with five bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms, large windows, high vaulted ceilings, an elevator and a winding staircase. Premier Relocation, Inc.’s Susan Miner has the listing, which has been discounted twice already. 432 West Grant Place, Unit 1E | Lincoln Park | $4.3 million This four-bedroom, 4.5 bathroom condo is asking $1.1 million more than it sold for in 2015. The 4,300-square-foot home is one of seven in the building, which was constructed in 2006. It offers a home theater, a private shaded terrace, two fireplaces, and a shared basketball court and sun terrace. Compass’s Caryl Dillon has the listing. 25 E Superior St E #4602 | Near North Side | $3.75 million The Fordham building’s penthouse has four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. The 5,200-square-foot home offers two walk-in closets, two private terraces, two private wine cellars and a private entrance and elevator. The living, dining and entertaining area have an open floor plan, enabling views of the city and lake from floor-to-ceiling windows. The seller first listed in January but is holding out hope for a profit, asking $288,000 higher than the 2010 sale price. Chris Vasilakopoulos of Dream Town Realty has the listing. 130 N GARLAND Ct #2803 | Loop | $3.7 million A Japanese garden condo has been listed at the Heritage. The four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom condo has water misters, a lily pond, a waterfall, an art gallery and detailed wooden paneling. With 4,000 square feet, the home has an open floor plan, motorized drapes, and access to a full-amenity building including a dog run. Nancy McAdam at Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty has the listing. 1550 N Clark St #401 | Near North Side | $3.575 million A new-construction condo at 1550 On The Park offers four bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, and 3,850 square feet. Gary Lee Partners designed the interiors with high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, a gallery, a walk-in closet, a balcony. Anthony Madonia of @properties has the listing.

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Amazon inks big lease expansion at…

Written by The Real Deal

227 West Monroe Street and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (Credit: Stone Real Estate and Getty Images) UPDATED, Sept. 16, 10:30 p.m.: Two years ago, Amazon doubled the size of its office space at its downtown location. It just did it again. The e-commerce behemoth will take 70,000 square feet at the Tishman Speyer-owned 227 West Monroe Street tower, up from its existing 30,000 square feet it already occupies, the company said. The move will mean Amazon will add 400 jobs at the location. Amazon continues its expansion mode. In addition expanded space it has at the 1.5 million-square-foot tower, the company has recently added 400 jobs in Portland, Oregon, 400 jobs in Denver, and 800 jobs in Austin all from new offices. Chicago’s Amazon “Tech Hub” is one of 18 in North America, accounting for 20,000 employees, according to the company. The local space focuses on Amazon Web Services, including its advertising, and transportation and operations units. Other big-name tenants have also descended on Chicago this summer, including , Walgreens and Cisco at 601W Companies’ Old Post Office. comprise most of Amazon’s rapidly-expanding, 11,000-member workforce in Illinois. The company has also been increasing its in the area, which has boosted Chicago’s industrial market. The company recently posted a job listing for a 237,000-square-foot Skokie industrial facility that had previously been on the market.

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Real estate firms get (green) thumbs…

Written by The Real Deal

From left: Boston Properties CEO Owen Thomas, Alexandria Real Estate Equities CEO Joel Marcus, and Equity International founder Sam Zell (Credit: Getty Images and iStock) Real estate executives at the front of the industry’s push toward sustainability will gather in New York City in a few days for Climate Week – the annual event coinciding with the U.N. General Assembly when business and government leaders join together to tackle climate change. One topic that’s sure to be eagerly discussed is green bonds, a niche area of financing that’s seen a surge over the past 15 months among U.S.-based real estate investment trusts, which have issued more than $3 billion worth of the sustainability labeled corporate debt. But as the green bond market picks up steam, real estate’s most active issuers are eschewing some of the industry’s best practices when it comes to transparency. And critics says the green bonds program has failed to live up to its goal of providing a cheap source of funding to promote environmental projects that otherwise wouldn’t get off the ground. “The entire green bond market is more or less a greenwashing instrument,” said Stanislas Dupré, founder and CEO of the think tank 2 Degrees Investing Initiative, and one of green bonds’ biggest critics. “If you take a LEED-certified commercial building in Manhattan, or a prime residential in an expensive part of Brooklyn, there’s no shortage of financing for that,” he added, explaining that very few bonds are priced at a point where they make the financing materially less expensive. “I think by design you can never reach this point.” Yet even those who fault the green bond program praise the fact that developers tapping the market are usually on the cutting edge of developing efficient buildings to high standards like LEED certification. And those REITs say that as long as they’re developing environmentally friendly buildings, they see value in the growing climate bonds market. Alexandria Real Estate co-president and chief financial officer Dean Shigenaga, whose company has issued $1 billion worth of green bonds since last summer, said there was an increase in investor demand for the firm’s green offerings. “There’s no question there’s more demand from investors who wanted to increase allocations for their sustainability or green initiatives,” he said. “If we had a choice between a green bond and a regular bond, I think we would always lean toward green.” Gang Green Green bonds, also known as climate bonds, are debt instruments in which the proceeds are earmarked to be used for projects that benefit the environment. They’re usually financed by investors who have set quotas to allocate a certain amount of capital to tackle climate change. And over the past decade they’ve become increasingly popular. The global green bond market hit a milestone in 2019 when new issuance surpassed $100 billion by the mid-way point of the year for the first time in history, according to the nonprofit Climate Bonds Initiative. That’s still a ways off from the $1 trillion-a-year target advocates have set for the market to reach by the early 2020s, but still represents an exponential rate of growth. Green bonds are part of a broader category of environmental, social and corporate governance programs known as ESG. But like other socially conscious driven investments – such as the Trump administration’s Opportunity Zones program – there are questions as to whether these programs are actually promoting social good, or merely providing the appearance of doing so. “From a REIT perspective, it’s just marketing,” said Sandler O’Neill analyst Alex Goldfarb. “For one, there’s no real way to measure cash flows on the back end.” Since bonds finance a company’s balance sheet as opposed to specific developments, trying to trace the path of a green bond is like trying to follow a particular drop of water poured into a drinking glass. “Money’s fungible,” Goldfarb said. Sam Zell’s Equity Residential, for example, issued a – the first for an apartment REIT. The company said that pending allocation of the proceeds to finance or refinance green projects, it will use the cash to pay down its credit revolver and outstanding commercial paper. Alexandria Real Estate Equities, likewise, said it would initially use the proceeds from its $450 million green bond last June to reduce the balance on its unsecured line of credit. “Payment of principal of and interest on the [green notes] will be made from our general funds and will not be directly linked to the performance of any Eligible Green Projects,” the company wrote in its prospectus. Alexandria’s Shigenaga said the company is cognizant not to allocate too much of the green bonds proceeds to pay down old debts. “I think in our view we don’t want to get more than 50 percent historical because I think the investors want to see the prospectus spent on eligible projects,” he said. Equity Residential and Alexandria Real Estate, along with Boston Properties and Kilroy Realty, have issued a combined $3.6 billion in green bonds since last summer, according to an analysis by The Real Deal. But according to the Climate Bond Initiative’s database, none of the companies submitted their offerings for second party opinions – an external review to certify a bond’s environmental impact that’s considered a best practice in the industry. “It is up to the issuer whether or not they want an external review,” said Trisha Taneja, a manager at Sustainalytics, a company that rates firms on their ESG performance. “I think that more often than not it’s highly recommended because investors require it.” Bank of America/Merrill Lynch was the book runner designated as the “green structuring agent” for Equity Residential, Kilroy Realty and Boston Properties’ bond offerings. The of using such environmental activities to greenwash its record of simultaneously financing the fossil fuels industry. Measuring Impact Green bonds got their start in 2008, when the floated a $440 bond and defined the criteria for green bond projects. Vornado Realty Trust and the shopping centers REIT Regency Centers to tap the market when they issued their own climate bonds in 2014. As far as public reporting went, Vornado in its 2015 sustainability report made only general references to the bonds and its sustainable programs, rather than provide the kind of specific “impact reporting” that lays out the specific reductions in building emissions the bonds financed. (Vornado’s green bond was originally set to mature in June of this year, but the company called the bond in 2017.) “Vornado essentially reports the amount invested by type of project, rather than by project itself. And they don’t disclose/describe each project funded. Both of these would be best practice,” Miguel Almeida, a research analyst at the Climate Bonds Initiative, wrote in an email. Vornado declined to comment. Aleida noted that Vornado described the benefits of its green renovations and referred to specifications like LEED – disclosures that he said were pretty good as far as standards went in 2015. “Since they don’t quantify the impacts of the projects, they can’t be said to provide impact reporting, but they do describe the benefits of the investments and refer specifically to buildings certifications such as LEED,” he said, “which is something.”

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More like WeWait? Co-working giant to…

Written by The Real Deal

Adam Neumann, WeWork’s co-founder and CEO (Credit: Getty Images, iStock) WeWork’s parent company is reportedly planning to postpone its initial public offering following weeks of scrutiny over the co-working firm’s valuation and corporate structure. Sources told the Wall Street Journal that the IPO roadshow would be put on hold until at least mid-October, following the Jewish High Holidays, despite earlier reports that WeWork’s IPO roadshow would kick off as early as this week. WeWork’s co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann has been under significant pressure since the company’s IPO prospectus was filed in August. The filing revealed $47 billion in U.S. landlord commitments over 15 years and just , as well as huge personal loans issued by the company to Neumann and other executives. The company faced further criticism over revelations that its board was entirely male, and that Neumann was paid $5.9 million to sell the rights of the word “We” to WeWork. Nuemann later returned the payment and appointed a female board member. Last week, Neumann reduced the power of his voting rights to 10 votes per share from 20. And although he still has voting control, the board can now remove him as CEO. The change in corporate governance last week also limited Neumann’s ability to sell stock in the three years that followed the IPO. WeWork planned to raise at least $3 billion in its IPO on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, but rumors swirled last week that limited investor appetite could see a valuation fall below $20 billion. WeWork’s largest outside investor, SoftBank, has also urged the company to postpone the offering, pointing to the cool response from investors. WeWork lost $1.61 billion last year, with revenue totaling about $1.82 billion. [] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan

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Construction startup Katerra hires former James…

Written by The Real Deal

From left: Mollie Fadule, Lisa Picard and Matthew Marsh SoftBank-backed construction startup Katerra is bringing on a new CFO as part of a series of changes to its executive team. Matthew Marsh, a former executive at James Hardie and General Electric, is joining as the company’s new chief financial officer. In addition, Katerra has hired former private equity exec Mollie Fadule as the new head of its affordable housing program, and it’s appointed Lisa Picard, president and CEO of EQ Office, as a new board director. Katerra, which has raised $1 billion since its founding in 2015, markets itself as a technology company that offers a full suite of general contracting, engineering, design and other building services. Just last year, the company was as it tried to expand. According to , Katerra’s flagship factory in Arizona had to be shut down because of permitting issues, and quality control issues hampered construction. A former Katerra manager told the news site that “every day is a fire drill.” The company, which has raised more money since those reports last year, has made a series of other organizational changes in recent months, of UEB Builders and Fortune-Johnson General Contractors, as it looks to grow into other markets. The latest executive appointments follow the hiring of former oil-industry executive Paal Kibsgaard as the firm’s new chief operating officer in August. Before moving to Katerra, Marsh was the CFO and executive vice president at James Hardie, and spent 16 years at General Electric Company. Fadule co-founded private equity firm Cephas Partners in 2012 to work with affiliates of the Blackstone Group.

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Airbnb rival Sonder picks up another…

Written by The Real Deal

Every day, The Real Deal rounds up New York’s biggest real estate news, from breaking news and scoops to announcements and deals. We update this page throughout the day, starting at 10 a.m. Please send any tips or deals to tips@therealdeal.com. A Chicago developer has pitched an Airbnb-like five-story boutique hotel for 61 W. Erie Street. The proposal comes after ’s stalled 12-story River North condominium project. The new 29-unit hotel would be operated by , a platform similar to Airbnb with apartment-style suites and retail space. Alderman Hopkins blocked a boutique hotel downtown last week. [] Park Ridge’s Polo Masonry Builders, Inc. must pay more than $250,000 in fines for repeated safety hazards. Chicago job sites were deemed risky for falls, impalement, and injury. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued the company 13 citations since 2010. [] , a Texas-based construction company, has proposed a 260-unit row house development in the former 322-acre Motorola Solutions campus in Schaumburg. The main developer, Chicago’s UrbanStreet, will consider whether to add the 20-acre plan to the 225-acre Veridian development, which will include a Topgolf venue and ’s new global headquarters. [] TransNational Payments signed a 26,000-square-foot lease at Pointe O’Hare in after subleasing at the 11-story office building for several years. Colliers International represented the credit card processing company in industrial lease near I-90, I-294 and the O’Hare International Airport. [] In a Chicago first, will use polycarbonate curtain wall panels for KLEO Art Residences, a 58-unit mixed-income apartment building. The two-toned translucent panels are meant to give the building a sleek look. Developers hope the building will help catalyze retail and mixed-use development in the Garfield Boulevard arts corridor. [] The trade war could put a damper on the industrial real estate boom. Net industrial leasing activity for the next two years will be less than the past two years, according to a new report from trade group NAIOP. Trade and manufacturing activity has been impacted by new tariffs, but demand for last-mile logistics facilities has stayed strong thanks to the spread of e-commerce. [] Colony Capital is going all in on tech-centric real estate. Trump pal Tom Barrack’s firm is set to sell up to 90 percent of its $20 billion commercial real estate portfolio by the end of 2021, using the proceeds to buy data centers, mobile phone towers and fiber, and to expand its digital real-estate investment management business. “I’m terrified by legacy assets,” Barrack recently told investors. [] Compass is now offering A.I.-driven property search tools. The batch of newly-launched tools was first revealed by CEO Robert Reffkin on Monday during an appearance on CNBC, and will use users’ search and viewing history to recommend listings. The SoftBank-backed firm now says an IPO is “likely,” rather than just “possible” as was the case a few years ago. []

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Developer Geoff Palmer, longtime Trump backer,…

Written by The Real Deal

From left: President Trump and Geoff Palmer UPDATED, Sept. 17, 2019, 9:34 a.m.: Real estate and presidential politics will once again converge in Beverly Hills tonight. Prolific Los Angeles apartment developer is set to host a fundraiser for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign at his home. The dinner, which is expected to raise $5 million for the campaign, is one of a series of fundraising events the president will attend during his two-day stop in California. The events include a lunch in the Bay Area and breakfast in L.A., and will benefit Trump Victory. Combined, they are estimated to bring in $15 million for the campaign, according to reports. The Hollywood Reporter first detailed the fundraising event. Palmer owns a Spanish Colonial-style home on in Beverly Hills. Two years ago, he paid $10.3 million for the Paul Williams-designed home. It encompasses 6,889 square feet, has a wraparound terrace covered in roses, and a backyard that includes a pool, fireplace, cabana and dining area with a barbecue and pizza oven. Sources also say Palmer owns a much larger estate behind the famed Beverly Hills Hotel. Palmer has been one of Trump’s biggest backers, having donated millions of dollars to pro-Trump political action committees in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential campaign and throughout his presidency. In April, he donated, the joint entity that funds the president’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee, according to CNBC. He also gave $2 million to America First Action, a Trump-friendly super PAC. Palmer’s firm, G.H. Palmer Associates, owns 11,633 residential units in Southern California. Earlier this year, the billionaire developer was accused of illegally withholding thousands of security deposits from tenants in a class-action . More than two dozen tenants had previously sued Palmer for alleged unwarranted charges. In 2016, Palmer donated $2 million to Super PAC Rebuilding America Now, which was co-founded by fellow real estate mogul and Trump supporter . During the 2018 election cycle, Palmer is believed to have donated more than $4 million to the Republican Party. This is not the first time that Trump has tapped a real estate connection for a fundraising event in L.A. Last year, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Ed Glazer hosted an event for Trump’s reelection campaign at his 19,300-square-foot estate at . Glazer is president of the family-run commercial real estate firm First Allied Corp. During that visit, Trump stayed at the InterContinental Hotel in the 73-story Wilshire Grand Center in Downtown. He is expected to return to the hotel during this visit, a source said.

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The Chicago Neighborhood Guidebook digs deep…

Written by Curbed Chicago

Chicago Neighborhood Guidebook | Belt Publishing A new Chicago anthology from Belt Publishing Chicago is a dizzying array of neighborhoods. While the city’s 77 official community areas offer a marker of geographic definition, it’s the hundreds of smaller neighborhoods, many formed out of communities that span just a few city blocks that make it a challenging place to navigate. It’s a daunting task to capture the city in its fullness; tellingly, one of Chicago’s greatest spokesman, Studs Terkel, managed to portray the city’s richness in his and books by interviewing Chicagoans from all walks of life. It’s that same spirit of open mindedness and eclecticism that animates , a collection of 45 essays, poems, and photographs from Belt Publishing, where contributors from all corners of the city share space, each individual neighborhood weaving together into an evocative tapestry. Just as it’s hard to understand Chicago without recognizing the divergent concerns animating its residents’ lives—whether it’s an Englewood mother who’s fought to keep a single corner free from gun violence, or the intense dedication to Halloween in Edgewater Glen—the Guidebook serves as a potent reminder of an overarching connection we still share, bound to a city leaden with stories. The Guidebook highlights the voices and communities left out in conversations about the city. When publications like the New York Times the city’s complexity, while only recommending cultural experiences in wealthier communities, it strikes a familiar beat: pay lip service to the city’s diverse experiences, but ultimately focusing on areas that are already most familiar. For book editor and longtime journalist Martha Bayne, highlighting communities on the South and West Sides that often fail to receive favorable media coverage and allowing residents to describe their own experiences was a way of rebalancing the narrative inequity that exists between Chicago neighborhoods. Calling it a “guidebook” reminds readers that the city is animated by the daily experiences of its full-time residents and resists the oversimplification that traditional tourist guidebooks perpetuate. “Most people in the U.S. probably have an idea about Chicago, and how sophisticated it is depends on where they’re coming from,” Bayne says. “You have to dig a little deeper to try and find stories who are saying something that might spark you to look at the city in a different way.” The book’s first essay, “Austin and Division,” written by Dominican University English student and third-generation Chicagoan Shaina Warfield, helps to ground the book in an awareness of how the city’s geography shapes our understanding of where we call home. As Warfield writes: “People are geography too; where they live and don’t live, where they gather, where they work and play and buy their food. It all begins to draw a line, a color line you can see the moment you’ve learned your colors.” It’s a gentle observation of a painful truth: Chicago is one of the and has a terrible history of redlining, disinvestment, and police brutality. “The relationship between people and place is how I understand the definition of community,” Warfield says. “It becomes obvious when personal experiences are shared experiences that my life is not happenstance, but by design.” Warfield writes about the weight of being kept inside all summer as a child, the toll of gunshots heard in the distance, and seeing a different, wealthier world just a few blocks away in Oak Park. Meanwhile, in Andersonville, Sarah Steiner’s “The Precarious Equilibrium” frets with concern about the delicate balance that’s kept the neighborhood just affordable enough to maintain a lively community, and the magic of a modest century-old apartment building whose “U-shape hugs a vine-filled courtyard, embracing the residents within its red brick walls.” In both instances, it’s the intimate observations of their homes that animate larger concerns about city and neighborhood change, addressing these topics while still being defined by the way they play out in people’s real lives. Gabriel X. Michael, courtesy of Belt Publishing Behind the 3100 block of West Jackson Boulevard from Gabriel X. Michael Garfield Park photo essay. “I didn’t want it to be a book about race or segregation or gentrification or any of these big-picture themes of urban change,” Bayne says. “But you get a lot of people on the South and West Sides writing very explicitly about their experiences with racism and segregation, and you get people on the North Side writing about their fears of gentrification. That is the city right now.” For urban planner Vitality Vladimirov, contributor of an essay on Uptown called “A Trip to the Argyle Museum of Memories,” which document’s Vladimirov’s efforts to help memorialize the legacy of Asian immigration into the North Side community, the book is a reminder that Chicagoans are frequently strangers in their own city, unable to recognize the qualities that others enjoy about their own neighborhoods. “We hem ourselves into these boxes of neighborhoods that are good versus bad, and that’s where a lot of the issues start to happen,” Vladimirov says. “The trick is trying to convince an outsider of a neighborhood’s quality, [because] people have all these preconceived notions that are shaped by these boxes we put ourselves into.” Individual pieces tackle different time periods in their works, on occasion within the same community. In West Ridge, Sara Nasser’s “Rebel Girl” documents growing up pushing against the limitations imposed upon her as a Muslim girl, while Stuti Sharma’s “Paan Stains and Discount Vegetables” captures the community’s contemporary ethnic diversity through photography. The most explicitly forward-looking piece comes with the epilogue, “The Last Days of Rezkoville” a piece by author Ryan Smith that illustrates the rich legacy land south of the Loop that’s set to become The 78 megadevelopment that hopes to define its own community area on the make. By ending the book looking into the city’s future, it’s a reminder that Chicago is a city that’s “openly anxious about its soul,” as author Arnold Bennett in 1912. It also marks a moment of possibility, as Bayne describes it, a time capsule of a pivotal instance in the city’s unfinished journey. “The best thing readers can take away from the book is a reminder to listen and privilege stories that challenge or just ignore altogether the standard channels of money and power in the city, and do what they can to amplify them,” Bayne says. “It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s pleasurable and, I think, a surprisingly effective tonic for despair.”

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In River North, stalled condo project…

Written by Curbed Chicago

42nd Ward The five-story proposal replaces earlier plans for a skinny 12-story tower After struggling to get its at 61 W. Erie Street off the ground, property owner LG Development is now pitching a five-story hotel building for the long-vacant River North site. The boutique hospitality proposal will be operated by the Sonder brand and provide 29 guest suites designed to look more like Airbnb apartments than traditional downtown hotel rooms. Sonder is aggressively in Chicago and offers short-term rentals in the historic and the recently completed high-rise. The company is also renovating the Waterman Building at 127 S. State Street. Courtesy NORR Architects A rendering of the 12-story, 10-unit condo project originally planned for 61 W. Erie. The revised plan for 61 W. Erie complies with the site’s existing zoning and will not need to be approved by the city. It includes a ground-floor lobby, retail space, and a rear loading dock, according to a Friday email from 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly. The site was previously home to the Astrolab film processing company which treated footage used in all of John Hughes’ movies as well as scenes from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. The nondescript-looking commercial structure was in 2016. In other downtown hotel development news, 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins recently rejected a request for a zoning change to convert an existing 1956 Harry Weese-designed condo building at into 25 extended-stay suites. “A hotel-use at this location would change the residential charm of the block spanning from Michigan Avenue and the Lakefront,” said Hopkins in an email to residents—apparently ignoring the fact that the Drake and Millennium Knickerbocker hotels already occupy the same of stretch of Walton.

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A new streetscape in megadevelopment The…

Written by Curbed Chicago

Wells-Wentworth Connector | Courtesy of Related Midwest The Wells-Wentworth Connector prioritizes walking and biking over driving In Chicago, a new street main street built from scratch will consider a lot more than just cars. The will be a road for pedestrians, bikers, and new modes transportation the city might adopt in the future such as . In a major city it’s a rare opportunity to construct a brand new road without existing infrastructure to work around or other development obstacles, but that’s exactly the chance developer Related Midwest will get with the Wells-Wentworth Connector. Earlier this summer work on the project began which will be the main road running from north-south in the megadevelopment . The road will directly and easily connect near South Side neighborhoods to the Loop for the first time. “It’s the first actual project on The 78 so we want to make sure this was done the right way and people would feel physically different when you enter the site,” said Mike Pfeffer, the vice president of architecture at Related Midwest. with 10,000 residential units and an estimated 24,000 workers. It will have a seven-acre, crescent-shaped park, a 100-foot-wide riverwalk, a new Red Line station, a water taxi stop, and a research center. All of this is going into one of the last empty parcels of land near downtown and will take about two decades to complete. Courtesy Related Midwest So, the first phase of the development master planned by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) tackles the necessary infrastructure needed to support the massive project, which faces transportation barriers on all sides. “The area was very inaccessible with a wall along Clark Street, freight and train tracks, then the river. Wells-Wentworth will be the heartbeat of how everything connects,” said Pfeffer. “What we’re doing, it’s what Burnham would want us to do—reintegrating Wells and Wentworth into the city grid.” The street will only have two lanes for cars and speed tables at crosswalks will reduce the risk of speeding down the straight road. A speed table is similar to a speed bump except it has a flat top. The ones at The 78 will be placed at crosswalks and reach the same height as sidewalks. This removes the dip at most other intersections in the city, and the pavers will intuitively lead people toward the riverfront and park, Pfeffer said. The bike lane is protected by a double parkway and designed to guard bikers against hazards like dooring and cars pulling into the lane. The entire lane is 15 feet wide with 5-foot planted barriers on either side and a 5-foot space to ride. Related Midwest worked the Chicago Department of Transportation for two years to make sure that the streetscape would be designed in the smartest way. It was a priority to create a space that was safe and forward-thinking, said Pfeffer. “It’s precedent-setting. When we thought about the design it was important to design for alternative modes of transportation. Looking out on the streets today there are one wheels, scooters, bikes, electronic bikes. The way people move is changing on a week to week basis it seems.” The landscaping for the project, designed by Site Design Group, is highly detailed. The bike lane will feature an alternating row of trees that further separate bicyclists from vehicles. Those trees, about 150 of them, were purchased about a year ago to make sure that when they are planted at the end of this year the streetscape will look and feel complete, Pfeffer said. The Wells-Wentworth Connector will be an important street for the megadevelopment. So far, the plans present a design that some transit advocates can get behind. , a bicycle ambassador for Chicago, said as soon as she saw these separated lanes she was “drooling” over them. “I would love to see separated lanes become the standard design within the city. I appreciate that these lanes will feature nature elements and make it pretty clear that it’s intended for people one bikes and prevents cars from driving and parking in them,” wrote Cobbs in an email. Ultimately, all the infrastructure that The 78 requires like isn’t a limitation or design constraint for the developer. Although, they do have help from the city in the form of a . The Wells-Wentworth Connector starts off The 78 with a well-designed, safe main street.