There was a lot of hoopla yesterday about The 78, Related Midwest’s 62-acre mixed-use development going up on a brownfield site across the street from the South Loop Target store.
There was lots of press. Lots of big names. But once you scrub out all of the clichés, the platitudes, and the marketing babble seemingly cribbed from a Silicon Valley startup’s About page, here’s what actually happened: A document was signed.
It’s a good document, and one that will ensure that The 78 moves forward. But it wasn’t the ground-shaking event that everyone made it out to be. The 78’s ground is already shaking, as construction crews have long been at work connecting South Wells Street in the South Loop with South Wentworth Avenue in Chinatown.
The document is an agreement between the developers and the Discovery Partners Institute that the institute (part of the University of Illinois) will actually locate its operations in The 78, as has been stated since the first day The 78 was introduced to the public. But now it’s even more officially official.
The reason this is important is because it gives Related Midwest a reason to start cutting earth for that portion of the mega-development, and it intends to do so in the next dozen months. Considering Related’s track record, you can bet it’s itching to start construction sooner, rather than later.
Related plans to build The 78 north-to-south, and The Discovery Partners Institute is the seed in this oyster. The rest of the pearl includes 1,500,000 square feet of office space, 100,000 square feet of retail space, an avalanche of new residences, a new park, and another link in the Chicago Riverwalk network.
Related wants to have this done in 2024, so if you put your retirement money into cranes, hardhats, and lunch trucks, good for you.
Phase two is the southern portion of this space, which includes millions of additional square feet of office and retail space, and a new subway station for the CTA’s Red Line. There’s no completion date for that segment yet, but altogether the project is expected to cost around $7 billion. Again, hard hats. Lunch trucks.