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McDonald’s HQ Plan for the West Loop Moving Forward

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The new building is expected to become home to nearly 2,000 McDonald’s employees

Last night, Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr. (27th) and members of Sterling Bay, one of Chicago’s busiest developers, formally introduced the latest proposal for the booming West Loop neighborhood—the future global HQ of fast food giant McDonald’s. And in addition to providing renderings of the proposal, Sterling Bay reps also announced that the project is already moving forward on the permitting process. The meeting kicked off with Alderman Burnett explaining the importance of the project not just for the West Loop community, but also for Chicago as a whole, "Some developments in our ward are about our community and our neighborhood, and some developments are about the City of Chicago." Burnett explained.

So, what will the new headquarters look like? The developers plan to demolish the former Harpo Studios campus at 1058 W. Washington and will build a new 9-story, mixed-material structure at the site. If you’ve seen any other projects in the West Loop proposed or completed by Sterling Bay, the new concept may look familiar. The building will be constructed using a "pallet of materials" that is "sensitive to the historic nature of the community," according to Sterling Bay. In other words, it’ll be constructed largely of brick, steel and glass.

One of the big benefits of building in the West Loop is the wide sidewalks and big setbacks Gloor told the audience. And similar to other buildings in the area, the new McDonald’s HQ will feature setbacks from the ground floor up through the building. A rendering of the Gensler-designed building’s north elevation shows an outdoor patio space on the second level that overlooks the area, meanwhile, other levels on other sides of the building will feature green roof spaces. The complex takes on different shapes in varying sizes in order to help break up the 600,000-square-foot development visually. When asked why the developers didn’t just go with a complete brick construction during the Q&A segment, Sterling Bay reps suggested that the building would have simply looked too monolithic.

As far as height is concerned, the complex will top off at 125 feet at its highest point. The development will also feature ground level retail spaces. When asked if the building will feature a McDonald’s restaurant, Gloor’s response was that there is currently no plan for one, but it will ultimately be up to McDonald’s to make that decision. However, Gloor did indicate that McDonald’s will have some retail space, and after that, there will be about another 40,000-square-feet available.

While the building will run along Randolph Street, the main entrance for McDonald’s will be on Carpenter. And to help make it clear, the slides in yesterday’s presentation suggest that the development will be called 110N Carpenter. There will also be 300 parking spaces, which will be located on two below-grade levels. The entrance for the complex’s parking will be on Washington Street.

The developers are already in the permitting phase for the new complex, and have indicated that demolition of the existing structures is expected to begin within the coming weeks. Permits for the vertical construction will come at a later point, but the targeted completion period is spring 2018.