Chicago’s tech researchers are closer to having an expensive new academic research facility after a high-profile real estate move.
Related Midwest, the Chicago office for Related Companies, transferred the title for an acre within its “78” megadevelopment to the University of Illinois, Crain’s reported. That moves forward a planned $250 million project to develop a 261,000-square-foot facility with labs, classrooms and offices set to become a centerpiece in an “innovation district.”
Construction is set to begin next year, in the southwest corner of the 62-acre development site between Chinatown and the South Loop that Related is aiming to turn into Chicago’s 78th neighborhood. The developer plans to build 13 million square feet of offices, shops, hotels and fitness centers, including the university project, dubbed the Discovery Partners Institute, as well as thousands of homes, with 20 percent of them set to be designated affordable units.
Related says $7 billion will be invested into the overall project, including improvements to public transit.
“As a hive of activity featuring state-of-the-art lab, classroom and meeting spaces, DPI will develop applied R&D clusters, funded by corporations, government and foundations, that aim to solve complex societal challenges,” Related’s website for The 78 says of the university facility.
The academic aspect of The 78 was initiated by former Gov. Bruce Rauner, and has been slow to take shape, changing locations within the development site as Related partnered with Rush Street Gaming, operator of Rivers casinos, to bid for Chicago’s first casino license created by a 2020 law, Crain’s reported.
Rivers 78 is now one of three casino proposals remaining on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s desk after she cut two of the five from consideration on Tuesday, and it would be on the north end of the development plan, separated by a park from the research institution near 15th and Wells Streets.
The research institute project also will be given the right to claim about three acres next door for later phases of development, with $250 million secured for the first building so far.
Related itself also is considering erecting additional buildings that could be leased to DPI or others attracted by the research facility, Crain’s reported, citing unnamed sources.
“The Discovery Partners Institute will anchor the Innovation District at The 78, and we’re proud that it will attract and retain Illinois’ brightest talent with education and innovation that will elevate Chicago’s position on the global stage,” Curt Bailey, president of Related Midwest, said, according to Crain’s. “With DPI’s collaboration, The 78 will be a powerful engine for jobs, startups and new technologies as well as a residential and entertainment destination.”
The university project is set to be completed in late 2025 or early 2026.
[Crain’s] – Sam Lounsberry