TIF approved for "Green Exchange" project

December 8, 2009

Funds would help complete city's largest sustainable industrial project

Susan Massel    312.744.0757

The Chicago Community Development Commission today recommended the designation of developer for the development of the Green Exchange, a commercial mixed-use redevelopment that will serve as an incubator for green businesses committed to environmental sustainability.

The commission voted to approve the designation of Gx Chicago, LLC as the developer of the project at 2543-45 W. Diversey Ave. and 2755-57 N. Maplewood Ave. Proposed TIF funds from the Addison South TIF would benefit the shovel-ready, 275,800 square foot project.

The site of the development, now 30% complete, is the four-story building that once housed the Frederick Cooper Lamp Company, which went out of business in 2004 resulting in the loss of 110 jobs. Once completed, the Green Exchange is estimated to create 300 temporary construction jobs and 300-500 permanent jobs for area residents including residents of the nearby Lathrop Homes.  The building will provide a significant retail presence, showroom galleries, office space, incubator work-live lofts and attractive common areas, creating an epicenter for green businesses and organizations in the Midwest. 

The idea for the Green Exchange was born in 2004, early in the national green movement and included an industrial incubator that restricted tenants to companies with a focus on green technologies, and sustainable business practices. Although well known as the Cooper Lamp Building, it is historically and officially known as the Vassar Swiss Underwear Company Building and was designated a City of Chicago landmark and was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in September of 2008.

“We are thrilled to be able to support the completion of this project,” says Acting Department of Community Development (DCD) Commissioner Christine Raguso. “To date, twenty four businesses have signed leases to occupy 92,000 square feet of space. We believe this is the type of project that meets many of the City’s goals, in terms of development, attracting and retaining jobs, and continuing to develop businesses that are “green” for the benefit of the entire City.”

The Green Exchange will offer a unique collection of over 100 eco-friendly businesses focused on the environment and purveying only green products and services. Featured businesses include a paperless bank, organic café, and a sky garden available to host events focused on the promotion of the national green movement. Sustainable features include a 15,000 square foot green roof with 90 solar thermal panels that will supply the domestic hot water for the building, a 41,000 gallon storm water management system, and a state-of-the-art sustainable escalator that uses 30% less energy than standard models. Other features include excellent water conservation by using 37.5% less potable water than a comparable building using traditional energy systems and using LED lighting throughout the building.  The Green Exchange is pre-certified as a LEED Gold redevelopment by the U.S Green Building Council and the developer is committed to pursuing LEED Platinum certification. Under either standard, at 275,884 square feet, the Green Exchange would become the largest green business community in the country. Today, the largest green industrial building is located in Portland, Oregon and is 70,000 square feet.

In May of this year, the developers, Baum Development, LLC, learned that, due to current market conditions, their $35 million construction loan had been reduced to $20 million. At that time, they submitted TIF and HUD 108 applications to the City as a means to close the $15 million financial gap. In the proposed financing structure, the developer would receive a $15 million HUD 108 loan, which would provide the needed upfront funding for the project. In addition, a $10 million TIF note would be issued by the City to the Developer payable from 90% of the TIF revenues from project PINs for TIF-eligible reimbursable expenses.  The developer would in turn pledge the note back to the City and the proceeds from this note, along with $5,000,000 in operating revenue from the project over time, would be used to repay the 108 loan.

In other CDC business, the commission recommended approval for DCD to enter into a negotiated sale with TS Plum, LLC, for the sale and rehabilitation of Edgewater’s former Engine 70 Fire House at 1539 W. Rosemont Ave. The site will be the home of Plum Productions, one of Chicago’s premiere video and flash production companies, creating marketing materials for such companies and institutions as Adler Planetarium, Museum of Contemporary Art, WGN, etc.  The sale price for the property is $390,000. A new firehouse, located at located at 6030 N. Clark Street, was completed to serve residents in the neighborhoods of Edgewater, Rogers Park and Andersonville in the summer of 2008. 

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