One more major office project is slated for the ever-changing Goose Island area. Developer R2 Companies has scooped up one more former industrial facility and plans a major renovation in hopes of attracting a big office tenant. The move comes as a part of a grand strategy to transform the island's image as a decaying industrial corridor into a hip and desirable destination for office workers — specifically workers in the tech space. Last year, R2 made a big splash along the Chicago River's North Branch when it announced two major projects for the man-made island. The company is renovating a 285,000-square-foot facility at 909 West Bliss and working to erect a 350,000-square-foot office development at the old Goose Island Boat Yard site. Chicago's Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture was tapped to lead the design duties on the West Bliss and Goose Island Boat Yard developments, but R2 has teamed up with Gensler for the 132,000-square-foot project at 1315 N. North Branch Street.
Goose Island isn't going to transform into River North overnight, and this is something that R2's managing principal Matt Garrison understands. However, Garrison believes the potential is there, and combined with key infrastructure improvements, Goose Island's transformation could be kicked into high gear. "It's not going to happen anytime soon, but you could fit the entire density of River North on Goose Island," Garrison says.
The company isn't looking to come in and flip properties however. "The traditional model is to buy a piece of property, increase its value as much as possible in the next few years, sell it and make a lot of money, but that's not our model," Garrison tells Curbed. "We're going to try to do a value add on the entire neighborhood. "
And as Goose Island continues its march into a post-industrial future, so does the area just directly north. Earlier this year, developer Sterling Bay acquired multiple properties within the Planned Manufacturing District that the former Finkl steel and and Gutmann Leather tannery sites belonged to. The company has even inked one major tenant for the old Gutmann site. When asked if Garrison sees Sterling Bay's shifting focus to the Chicago River's North Branch as impeding on their turf, Garrison shrugged off any notion of viewing Sterling Bay's plans as competition. "What's good for them is good for us," Garrison indicates. "There are enough tenants to go around for both of us. It's not an us-versus-them thing, it's about boosting the profile of the area that surrounds the North Branch of the river."
·Investor gobbles up another Goose Island property [Crain's]
·Developer Sees Bike-Ped Bridges, Good Design as Keys to Goose Island's Future [Curbed Chicago]
·Developer Plans Second Tech Office Project for Goose Island [Curbed Chicago]
·Here's A First Look At Goose Island's Newest High-Tech Hub [Curbed Chicago]