As the president and managing partner of Hilco Redevelopment Partners, Roberto Perez is overseeing the $100 million transformation of the Crawford Generating Station into a distribution center spanning more than a million square feet.
The new building will be located on the 70-acre site of the former power plant along I-55, and at the intersection of Pulaski Road and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.
The project, whose aim is to be completed by 2020, would bring 360 construction jobs, followed by 178 permanent jobs. The warehouse, with its 1.06-square-feet in the heart of the city and just a quarter-mile from a major highway, is attractive to e-commerce retailers.
“The exciting part of the facility is the location,” Perez told Negocios Now.
Perez pointed to the people who live in the Southwest Side neighborhood and said they represented “a very hard-working community.”
And the community will benefit because the project will give opportunities to businesses owned by minorities and women, he said.
As an example, Perez said, Hilco has signed an affidavit with the City of Chicago that will ensure that a minimum of six percent of the construction and permanent jobs go to females; and 26 percent go to minorities.
The affidavit ensures that at least fifty percent of the employees will live in Chicago. Hilco, a subsidiary of Hilco Global, has partnered with the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association, according to Perez.
“Our group has brought 42 million square feet (of office space to life),” Perez said. “To be able to do it in the Hispanic-American community (is most rewarding).”
The project is dubbed Exchange 55 and has been the target of some blowback from residents and community environmental groups. In public meetings they’ve argued that the center would simply replace the pollution risk associated with a coal-fired power plant with pollution from the considerable number of cargo trucks that will use it.
But Perez told Negocios Now that Hilco has taken great lengths to make sure the project is environmentally friendly.
“We’re going to clean it up,” Perez said, “We’re going to make the capital investment.”
Hilco is planning on installing 627 trees, LED lighting, and a project design that promotes sustainability, Perez said.
He said the goal now is for the project to be completed by the end of 2019 or early 2020. The project, when completed, will be the largest, in terms of square footage, for a commercial building in the City of Chicago, Perez told Negocios Now.
“We’re going after the new economy,” Perez said.
The building will be multi-faceted with space for a warehouse and for office space.
He said the company has a history of transforming blighted spaces into environmentally friendly projects and spearheaded the transformation of the 17 million square foot, 3,100-acre Bethlehem Steel Mill in Baltimore, Md. into a major global logistics hub.
Perez has been with Hilco since 2008 and has worked in real estate development for nearly twenty years. He graduated from Lake Forest College in 2000 and has worked at U.S. Equities Realty.
Perez’ other projects include:
- a historic office tower located at One North LaSalle in Chicago;
- a former Exelon power plant facility in Boston, Mass;
- a Cooper Tire manufacturing site in Albany, Ga.;
- a Sony Electronics manufacturing site in Dothan, Ala.;
- a GM Stamping facility in Ohio;