Original Entry Title: Assembly Line
Team code: 171663
School: Université Laval
Overview (Narrative excerpt from final four team submission)
The Assembly Line project enhances connections between neighboring communities and the river through a high-efficiency manufacturing district with a 21st century twist. Numerous community workshops offer a reinterpretation of the site’s manufacturing past. Skilled laborers can use the workshops to provide valuable services while artisans and designers can create in inspiring environments.
In keeping with the district’s heritage, the Fleet and Facility Management buildings are preserved and repurposed to host meeting spaces, a start-up incubator, and an all-year-round farmers’ market selling food grown locally and on-site. A productive cluster emerges allowing entrepreneurs to encounter potential clients in the meeting places, open an office in the incubator, start production in the workshops and live just a corner away.
The proposed neighborhood will be an exciting place to live, work and play, with a renewed access to the river for leisure activities, plenty of retail stores, cafes, bars, and active transportation opportunities.
Overall Design and Development Plan
The Chicago River has historically been a physical separation between the Lincoln Park and West Town neighborhoods. Located between these two neighborhoods, the sites targeted for development have always had an important industrial function due to their strategic position alongside the North Chicago River. Since 1988, the industrial use of these specific sites is protected with a planned manufactured district (PMD) zoning. This specific industrial planning regulation has created a harsh boundary between neighborhoods and amplified the socioeconomic and sociodemographic differences between the riverbanks.
The Assembly Line redevelopment project targets the idea of creating multiple connections. It is as much a meeting place between neighborhoods as it is a high-efficiency manufacturing district with a 21st century twist. This project breaks away from Chicago’s squared landscape to welcome a new multi-disciplinary neighborhood. The different projected sites of the Assembly Line will guarantee a mix between ideas and capital, industries and community, and between producers and markets. These relations will increase business opportunities in innovation, arts and urban agriculture.
The first phase of the project, Starting the Engine, will provide 941 housing units (affordable, workforce, rental and for-sale), 429,649 sq. ft. of office spaces, 203 558 sq. ft. of market rate and affordable retail units, and 187 workshop spaces. Other particularities of the first phase include the construction of a 70,000 square foot hotel with limited services, a startup incubator, an elementary school, a greenhouse and 1,820 underground parking spaces. The second phase of the Assembly Line, Production Time, incorporates 777 additional housing units of different types, 236,878 sq. ft. of office spaces, 269,749 sq. ft. of retail stores and 75 workshop units. The second phase, also offers a hotel with full services, a 25,227 square foot indoor farmers’ market, a library and 1,497 underground parking spaces. Finally, the third phase of the project, Display Matters, will add 217 housing units, 460,854 sq. ft. of office space, 441,469 sq. ft. of retail stores and 1,238 underground parking places. At the beginning of the 7th year, the entire infrastructure will be fully operational for everyone to enjoy. The colorful opportunities made accessible by the Assembly Line project provide new ideas, capital, arts, residence, leisure, and business opportunities. The whole project is composed at 42% by housing units, 23% by underground parking, 16% by office spaces, 13% by retailing spaces, 2% by institutional spaces such as a school and a library, 2% of hotel spaces (full services and limited services) and 2% by workshops and a greenhouse. Overall, the building area covers 6,999,263 sq.ft. which brings the floor ratio area to 2.2.
The various cultural aspects of the site are aimed to inspire people from multiple backgrounds, no matter their interests; the library, the art taking place in the workshops, the innovative startup incubator and the business opportunities enable ideas and thoughts to be shared. The proposed neighborhood will be an exciting place to live, with plenty of space for leisure activities, an all-year-round farmers’ market selling food freshly grown with a part of the production coming from productive green roofs and greenhouses from the site itself, and plenty of retail stores, cafes, bars, and active transportation opportunities.
The Fleet and Facility Management building is at the center of the project. It will be re-purposed as a market, workshops and different types of cooperatives. The market itself will be a cooperative managed by the producers themselves who will also be in charge of cultivating the vast green roofs and greenhouses made available through the Assembly Line project.
By creating physical connections with five new bridges and two new tunnels, this project will bring people from Lincoln Park and West Town together to exchange ideas and experiences. Artists, designers and creators can co-create in this inspiring environment. The numerous approaches and disciplines brought together bring them fructuous opportunities.
At the heart of the Assembly Line, the start-up incubator allows people with ideas and people with capital to invest to meet up and unite. The proximity of the incubator with the workshops and the meeting places creates a vibrant harmony within the line. An entrepreneur can meet potential clients in the meeting places, have an office at the incubator, start production in the workshops and live just a corner away.
The Assembly Line project will be completed in cooperation with Sterling Bay, which will give us the chance to reach a bigger guaranteed amount so we can have more equity to develop the whole Assembly Line project. It is oriented through a cogent approach from both investors that helps to bring the best out of everyone.
The Assembly Line is installed in one of the most vibrant cities of the United States. With an annual average Case-Schiller index of 5%, the real estate market is much in-demand. The populations of the western neighborhoods are mostly young, but the triple barrier made by highway 90, the Metra railway and Chicago River currently makes it difficult for them to meet with the richer and older inhabitants of Lincoln Park. The Assembly Line reunites these residents so they can help each other realize their dreams and assures a mix between the different populations of the West Town, Lincoln Park, Logan Square and Near North Side neighborhoods.
The large number of available offices in Chicago’s suburbs makes the Line’s offices a top choice for companies that have their employees’ wellness in mind. The currently offered facilities are often expensive, with annual leases starting at $30 per square foot. The Line counts on its affordability and many services to welcome the operations of small and big companies.
The Assembly Line’s development, divided in three distinct phases, is proposed by an innovative collaboration between Windy Crew Investors (WCI) and Sterling Bay (SB). The first phase will be erected from year one to year three on the two blocks of land owned by WCI as well as on the former Finkl Steel site, recently bought by SB. These sites will have been previously decontaminated in year zero. The first two blocks will be used as equity from Windy Crew Investors. The former Finkl Steel site will be used in the same manner by Sterling Bay. These equity sources will allow us to finance up to 11% of our overall project as well as giving us more loan possibilities. The rest of our project will be mostly financed with the same loans, with the help of public grants. The second phase will be developed within the years four and five on the Fleet and Facility Management’s current site and on the General Iron riverside. These two sites will be acquired at market value and decontaminated at the end of phase one in order to develop them at the beginning of the second phase. The Elston Metal Tanks Area and the Home Depot site will only be developed in the third phase of our project. These two sites will be acquired at market value and developed within years six and seven of the project. The Assembly Line will be fully operational from year eight.
The overall unleveraged IRR index of the Assembly Line is positive with a ratio of 6.06%, which assures us of the profitability of this development opportunity. The LVR ratios at the end of each phase are low, respectively 75%, 62% and 53%. Because of these low ratios, our project can be considered low risk and this will give us the opportunity of obtaining a long-term loan with a low interest rate. We also estimate that the Assembly Line project will have an overall asset value of $3.18 G after its 10th year, which is 1.9 times more than the total development costs. Furthermore, the value of the project at year 10 will be 6.7 times bigger than the initial value at year 0. In other words, the value jumps from $474 M to $3.18 G.
For the city of Chicago, our estimation of the potential fiscal revenues is highly positive. From year 0 to year 10, the city can reach approximate revenues of $343 M from the promoter, $143 M from buyers and $116.9 M from land acquisition. We also estimate the Assembly Line project would cost the city around $38 M. The positive overall effect of the development of this site would be about $564 M for the Chicago administration.
- Laurent Généreux (Team leader), Joint Master in Architecture and Master of Urban Design
- Virginie Allard-Goyer, Master of Business Administration
- Josué Desbiens, Master in Economic Sciences
- Alejandro Jiménez Pujol, Master of Urban Design
- Frédéric Lemieux-Audet, Master of Urban Design
- François Dufaux, Director, Master of Urban Design Program, Associate Professor
Final Four Submission Materials
Final Four Presentation Board
Final Four Pro- Forma
Original Submission Materials