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City’s breaks ground on second new building in 2017

Officials recently broke ground on a 57-story building at 800-812 S. Michigan Ave that Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined by Ald. Sophia King (4th) announced will create more than 400 jobs. It also continues Chicago’s record-setting construction season into 2017 with the erection of the project’s tower crane. Chicago had a post-recession record 52 cranes operating in 2016.

“This project will strengthen Chicago’s skyline while creating jobs that reach throughout the city of Chicago,” Mayor Emanuel said. “After finishing a year when we set a post-recession record for tower cranes and shattered tourism records, this new high-rise will ensure we keep Chicago’s economic resurgence going strong for years to come.”

The project is a joint venture of Chicago-based Oxford Capital Group and London-Based Quadrum Global. Oxford Capital Group specializes in large-scale acquisitions, developments and redevelopments with an emphasis on hotels, resorts, conference centers, senior housing, retail, multifamily, mixed-use, and additional operationally intensive real estate. John Rutledge, Founder, President and CEO of Oxford Capital Group was on hand for the ceremony as well as Ald. Sophia King (4th).

“We are excited to make another distinctive addition to Chicago’s beautiful skyline with Essex on the Park, and to take the historic Essex Inn to the next level through its comprehensive redevelopment, said Rutledge.

Both the mayor and Rutledge indicated there would be job opportunities for all of the city’s residents. Rutledge added it included minorities, “It is gratifying to know that while doing so we will be generating hundreds of construction and operating jobs which include significant minority participation, and that the Essex on the Park apartment building as well as the Hotel Essex will help Chicago continue to be at the forefront of great American and global cities.”

The $240 million, mixed-use project includes construction of a new 620-foot residential building and the rehabilitation of the adjacent Essex Inn. Designed by Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, Essex on the Park will be LEED-certified and contain up to 479 residential units and 290 hotel rooms. It will also create 130 permanent jobs and 275 construction jobs.

A post-recession record 52 tower cranes went up in Chicago in 2016, and the pace continues this year with two cranes installed in the first two weeks of 2017. In addition to the construction record, 2016 set an all-time tourism record with 54.1 million visitors to the city, up 2.9 percent from the previous high-mark set in 2015. Last year Chicago’s tourism industry supported $15 billion in direct tourism spending and an estimated 145,137 jobs – an increase of more than 20,000 new jobs since Mayor Emanuel took office.

The tower will rise on the site of the Essex Inn’s former parking garage and will include an amenities deck on the seventh and eighth floors to be shared by residents and hotel guests, a green roof at its top and 100 parking spaces in its base.

As part of the project’s zoning approval, the developer will contribute $2.02 million into the City’s Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund, which is used to finance affordable housing construction and help mitigate homelessness throughout Chicago. Ald. Sophia King (4th) also worked with the developer to include affordable housing units on site.

“Thanks to our mutual commitment to affordable housing, Oxford Capital agreed to exceed its affordable housing obligation as part of this landmark project (DRAFT),” Ald. King said. “It will be a win for residents and a win for the neighborhood.”

The 15-story Essex Inn was designed by A. Epstein & Sons and completed in 1961. Designed in the International Style, the glass and steel structure was recently recommended for landmark status by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, to be considered by City Council later this year, the designation would protect the building’s elevations, rooflines and rooftop sign.

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