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Three Questions for Stephen Quazzo, CEO, Pearlmark Real Estate Partners

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A downtown helicopter port is finally taking off. In a meeting last week, real estate investor and Pearlmark Real Estate Partners CEO Stephen Quazzo shared details of his proposed "vertiport" to be completed next year at Wood and 15th streets on the Near West Side with members of the Illinois Medical District Commission, who own the 10-acre parcel, reports Crain's. We caught up with Quazzo to learn more about the $13 million development:

Why does Chicago need a helicopter landing port?

Chicago is a world-class city and since Meigs Field closed in 2003 we have no commercial facility to land a helicopter near downtown. We see significant untapped demand, including tourism, individual and business charter, corporate, emergency medical, city services (i.e. police, fire), news, sports, and special events that have expressed strong desire to use a heliport facility close to Chicago. Nearly 13 million people live within a 100-mile radius of our city!

How will the project impact the city?

On a base level it will offer employment opportunities, creating both construction and ongoing operating jobs. More importantly it will improve our emergency medical transport times, hopefully saving lives. Also it will help attract new businesses and business opportunities to Chicago that we are currently not seeing.

You teamed up with Mike Conklin, a former Marine One helicopter pilot for Bill Clinton, for the project. What kind of helicopter pilots will be utilizing this site once it's completed?

Mike is the visionary behind this project and his operating experience has guided our thinking. The Chicago Vertiport will be a private facility and thus only experienced pilots with a minimum 1,000 flying hours will be allowed to land. When completed next year, the Vertiport will be a fully-manned 24-hour facility that will be a first class fixed base operation amenity for Chicago.
·Downtown Helicopter Site Takes Flight [Crain's]
·Three Questions [Curbed Chicago]