By Mike Nolan Daily Southtown | Jan 18
A company that has literally cornered the market near Orland Park’s Main Street Triangle could be in line to develop the village-owned property at the northwest corner of La Grange Road and 143rd Street.
The village in November began talks with Edwards Realty Co. to develop the remaining property in the triangle, which includes the Ninety7Fifty on the Park apartments, University of Chicago Medicine Center for Advanced Care and a multilevel parking garage between the apartments and U. of C.
The shift comes after the village and another firm initially picked to negotiate a development agreement, Structured Development, mutually agreed in October to end discussions as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the commercial real estate market.
Structured had, in early November 2018, been selected to move forward with a detailed plan to develop the five sites, totaling about 9 acres, and the company and village had been close to a development agreement early last year, according to Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau and Jeff Berta, Structured’s senior director of real estate development.
“It was going in the right direction, then almost overnight things went downhill,” Berta said about the pandemic essentially freezing commercial real estate development.
Early last year, “we didn’t know at that time how bad things were going to get,” but as the pandemic progressed it became clear that retailers, both locally and nationally, were no longer in an expansion mode but just trying to keep the doors open on outlets they had, he said.
Orland Park-based Edwards was, along with Structured, the other company in the running to take a stab at developing the triangle property, and the village contacted the firm after ending talks with Structured, Pekau said.
“We are in serious discussions with Edwards,” he said Thursday.
Initially, six companies were vying to oversee the development, with Structured and Edwards being the two finalists.
The Village Board at an early November 2018 meeting, in a 6-0 vote with one trustee absent, picked Structured.
The village’s intent with the triangle has been to create a traditional, walkable downtown within the district.
Along with available land, there is a 12,000-square-foot space on the first floor of the parking garage that could be used for commercial space.
The term triangle comes from the 27-acre site’s northern border of the Metra SouthWest Service line and Southwest Highway, eastern border of LaGrange Road and southern border of 143rd Street.
Edwards has a portfolio of commercial properties, many of them concentrated in the south and southwest suburbs.
The company acquired Orland Park Crossing, a high-end lifestyle center, in 2013. The center, northeast of La Grange Road and 143rd Street and just east of the triangle, had been developed in 2005 and tenants include Chico’s, Mariano’s, Omaha Steaks, P.F. Chang’s and Talbots.
Edwards also developed Gateway Plaza, at the southeast corner of LaGrange and 143rd, with tenants including City Barbeque and McAllister’s Deli.
The company also owns Marley Creek Square, a retail center at the southwest corner of Wolf Road and 179th Street that includes Jewel, Barraco’s Pizza and Moe’s Chinese Kitchen.
Also in Edwards’ portfolio is the Burr Ridge Village Center, a lifestyle shopping center in Willowbrook, which it bought in a joint venture with Core Acquisitions in 2019, as well as The Boulevard, another high-end lifestyle center in the St. Louis suburb of Richmond Heights, Missouri.
In initial talks with Edwards, they want something complementary to the retail mix in Orland Park Crossing, Pekau said. The village and Edwards had scheduled a meeting for Friday for further discussions, the mayor said.
A message left with the company was not immediately returned.
In November 2017, Orland Park officials had approved an agreement with Bradford Real Estate Cos., which was to have paid $1 million for a site of just under 2 acres in the triangle, upon which it would build a two-story, 80,000-square-foot building.
The upper level would have been leased to privately held theater operator Cinepolis USA, which planned to open its first location in the Chicago market.
The eight-screen theater would have had a restaurant and bar, and village officials had hoped Cinepolis would be a magnet to draw other development, such as high-end restaurants.
The development didn’t move forward, in part because of a separate agreement that had proposed bringing a 10-screen AMC theater to the vacant Sears, which Cinepolis believed could oversaturate the market considering there is a 15-screen Marcus theater in the village on LaGrange Road.
Structured’s work has been focused in the city, with several developments in the Clybourn Avenue corridor.
Its most notable endeavor may be the huge mixed-use New City project in Chicago’s Lincoln Park community.
Completed in 2016, the development at Clybourn and Halsted Street includes more than 390,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, as well as a 19-story, 199-unit luxury apartment tower, according to the company.
Going into the triangle project, Structured envisioned a mix of pedestrian-friendly commercial and residential uses.
“We believed in the site and believe in the location,” Berta, an Orland Park resident, said Friday.
He said it became clear as retailers reassessed their focus as the pandemic worsened that it would not be possible for his company to move forward with the Orland Park project.
“It was a product of the COVID response,” Berta said.
He said that while the rollout of the vaccine is a plus, it is difficult at this point to gauge when retailers at the local or national level might be able to move from survival mode to again looking at reviving expansion plans.
“This forecast isn’t good,” he said.
Original post: chicagotribune.com