February 21, 2020
The R&D campus has gotten all of the headlines recently. Gov. JB Pritzker of Illinois, Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago and developer Related Midwest each shared the news that the University of Illinois’ Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) would anchor the first phase of Related Midwest’s $7-billion mixed-use project along the South Branch of the Chicago River, The 78.
Rising on land donated by the developer and backed by $235 million in state funding, DPI is intended as a state-of-the art research and development campus, which will tap into sectors that have a strong Fortune 500 presence in Chicago and the state. These include data analytics and computing, and their applications in food and agriculture; health and wellness; finance and insurance; and transportation/logistics.
“Our vision for The 78 is to create Chicago’s next great neighborhood,” said Curt Bailey, president of Related Midwest. “With a dynamic Phase 1 plan that includes DPI as its centerpiece, we’re showing how a 21st-century work-live-play community, created from the ground-up and connected to so many vibrant areas, will bring new opportunities to all of Chicago.”
Bailey added, “DPI’s organizational model will drive long-term innovation across critical growth industries and draw corporate tenants, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists — from across Chicago and around the globe — to The 78, where they will find top talent, groundbreaking research and new technologies that support future expansion.”
DPI may well command that kind of drawing power. However, the 62-acre 78 project, which attracted DPI as a prospective tenant as far back as 2017, was already going to be on the grand scale.
In fact, Related Midwest has said the project—so named because it’s intended to add a 78th neighborhood to Chicago’s longtime complement of 77—would be the largest private development in the city’s history.
At full build-out—which the developer believes won’t occur for another two decades—the MXU on a former rail yard will encompass some 13 million square feet of residential, retail and office, along with half a mile of continuous riverfront linking downtown to Chinatown on the city’s South Side. It’s expected to produce $3 billion in economic impact annually upon completion, and generate 10,000 full-time jobs along with keeping construction workers busy for several years.
“Chicago is a global and ethnically diverse city with strong neighborhoods at its heart,” Bailey said when Related Midwest unveiled its master plan in May 2018. “We’ve spent years studying what makes those neighborhoods great and are using those attributes to influence the design of The 78.”
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