Big Projects In The Works

December 20, 2017

Chicago - New life for a familiar gatekeeper

Hunkering over the last few feet of the Eisenhower Expressway, Chicago's old main post office (above) seems to guard the city's downtown from west suburban invaders. Drivers take it for granted that to get to the Loop, they'll have to drive under what was in the 1930s the world's largest post office - all 2.8 million empty square feet of it.

Now it looks like the grand old Chicago building will be brought back to life.

A New York developer, 601 W Company, bought the building in 2016 with plans to turn the decades-long empty behemoth into a mixed-use neighborhood. 601W announced Tuesday it secured a $500 million construction loan that is one of the largest in the city’s history.

At 2.8 million square feet, the redevelopment is the largest underway in the United States, according to 601W. The building is unusually wide, with floors as big as 260,000 square feet. The redevelopment will create features including a 3.5-acre rooftop park, more than 60,000 square feet of tenant amenities and ground-floor retail, including a large food hall. The Congress Parkway drive-thru will remain.

“The reason this was the largest post office ever built was, because if you look back at the history of the time, the Amazons of their time were catalog distributors: Sears Roebuck; Montgomery Ward; and Spiegel,” said Brian Whiting, president of Chicago-based Telos Group, which represents 601W in finding tenants for the post office. “Chicago was the center of that not only because those companies developed here, but because of the transportation to distribute virtually everywhere in the United States.” Built in 1922, the Beaux Arts building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.

Work is expected to be “substantially completed” by March 2019, according to the news release.

Lansing, Michigan - New $500 million natural gas plant

The Lansing Board of Water and Light Monday announced plans for a new natural gas power plant. The $500 million project will break ground a year from now and come online in the first quarter of 2021.

The new natural gas facility will replace an older coal-powered plant that is set to retire in 2020.

“This new plant will be the largest project the BWL has ever taken on and allows us to remove a major coal-fired power plant from service,” BWL manager Dick Peffley said in a press release. “Continuing to generate our own power will ensure Lansing’s energy independence for decades to come so we’re not relying on the grid.”

The Lancing utility company has been progressive in its plan to be energy independent and expects the new plant will contribute 30 percent of its service areas needs. The company says the natural gas plant will pick up the slack when wind and solar energy units aren't generating power.

Better yet, the utility recently passed a three-year rate plan, so Peffley says customers won’t see surprise increases in their bills. “Their rates won’t be affected other than the approved [rate] strategy that just went through,” Peffley said. 

The plant is expected to begin operation in 2021.

Edgecombe County, N.C. - $580 million tire plant

Triangle Tire Chairman Ding Yuhua and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced Tuesday the decision to build Triangle's first plant outside of China, to be located in North Carolina.

North Carolina officials have approved tax incentives for Triangle Tire who is seeking to build a factory that will produce six million tires a year and employ 800 workers. The Edgecombe County location is about 65 miles east of Raleigh.

Triangle Tire is a subsidiary of Triangle Tyre Co. Ltd, which in turn is owned by Weihai Tire Corp., a China-based tire manufacturer of tires for passenger cars, trucks, and heavy equipment.

Triangle Tire could get up to $152 million in state and local tax breaks, worker training and other incentives if it meets hiring targets. The jobs are projected to pay an average wage of $56,450 a year, well above a county average of $32,642 .

The company said in that construction would start in 2018 on a two-phase plan.  The first, which will make tires for passenger vehicles, will begin construction in the second half of 2019 and be fully operational by 2020. The second plant, which will make tires for commercial vehicles, should be fully operational in 2023. The two plants are expected to produce 6 million tires annually. The company said construction is expected to take two to three years for each project.