The Real Deal Chicago

Hilco gets key city green light for 1M sf spec warehouse on SW Side

The Chicago Plan Commission approved the project despite opposition from some Little Village neighbors
By Alex Nitkin | September 13, 2018 12:36PM

Hilco Redevelopment Partners CEO Roberto Perez and a rendering of Exchange 55 (Credit: LinkedIn)

Hilco Redevelopment Partners cleared a major hurdle in its $100 million effort to build a more than 1 million-square-foot spec warehouse on the site of the shuttered Crawford Power Plant on the city’s Southwest Side.

The Chicago Plan Commission on Thursday gave a green light to the 70-acre redevelopment, advertised as “Exchange 55,” on Pulaski Road just north of the Sanitary and Ship Canal between the Little Village and Archer Heights neighborhoods.

The developer is not requesting a zoning change, but the scale of the project will require approval from the City Council’s zoning committee, as well as the full council.

The 52-foot-tall building will be designed to accommodate e-commerce operators for “last-mile” distribution, Hilco Redevelopment CEO Roberto Perez said. It would include up to 255 parking spaces and up to 188 truck loading berths.

Perez said the property’s proximity to the canal and the Stevenson Expressway as well as the “strong labor force in Little Village” gave the developer confidence it will be able to fill such a large facility.

The Crawford Plant was shut down in 2012 along with another nearby coal-fired plant after pressure from environmental and neighborhood groups. Some preservationists urged Hilco to try an adaptive reuse of the existing plant, but the company is planning to start demolition later this year.

The developer got an earful during a community meeting last month from neighbors who said an influx of semis could further pollute the area, according to Block Club Chicago, and dozens of opponents spoke out against it during the meeting Thursday.

But Hilco has made some additions to the plan at the request of the city and neighborhood groups, including a pedestrian walkway and infrastructure for an electric vehicle charging station adjacent to the property.

Hilco has been eyeing the property since the Crawford Plant was shuttered, Perez said. The firm bought the property from the New Jersey-based NRG Energy in December.

The developer is hoping to break ground on the complex in the spring and complete it by early 2020, Perez said said.

The warehouse would join a flurry of industrial development sweeping into the Southwest Side, part of a surge in warehouse construction seen all over the region. About a mile to its east, Angelo Gordon & Co. bought a 189,000-square-foot baking plant last month for $20.3 million.

Banner Wholesale Grocers recently developed a new warehouse at 3000 South Ashland Avenue, Amigos Foods is building a new 110,000-square-foot processing and warehouse facility near 51st and Kedzie, Venture One and USAA are developing a $17.5 million speculative logistics complex at 2445 South Rockwell Street, and Marina Cartage is building a 633,000-square-foot spec industrial complex in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.

Hilco Redevelopment Partners is a subsidiary of Hilco Global, which develops and invests in real estate on four continents.