Chicago Mixed-Use Lands $1.2B Research Hub

The 78, Related Midwest’s 62-acre master-planned development, will become home to The University of Illinois System’s innovation center, Discovery Partners Institute.

By Barbra Murray 

Discovery Partners Institute at The 78
Artist’s rendering of Discovery Partners Institute at The 78 in Chicago

Related Midwest, the Chicago office of multifamily and mixed-use developer Related Cos., has just secured an anchor for The 78, a 62-acre master-planned community in Chicago for which the company is serving as master developer. The University of Illinois System will build Discovery Partners Institute, a $1.2 billion public-private research and innovation center, at the sprawling site.

“Leveraging Related’s extensive experience in international placemaking, The 78 will be a transformative downtown neighborhood designed to respond to the rapidly changing demands of future generations, making it the ideal location for a dynamic institute like DPI,” Curt Bailey, president of Related Midwest, said in a prepared statement.

Related Midwest is developing The 78—named for its status as the new addition to Chicago’s collection of 77 community areas—in partnership with architecture firm SOM. Spanning a half-mile along the riverfront, on the largest undeveloped parcel of land in downtown Chicago, the development will ultimately offer residential, commercial, institutional, cultural and recreational accommodations. However, a full 40 percent of the site will consist of green and open space. DPI will take center stage at the development.

DPI will be erected on a donated segment of The 78, the precise location of which Related Midwest and the U of I System will work together to select. Upon completion, the research center will serve as a hub for students, faculty and businesses to collaborate on ideas that will translate into product development in the agriculture, health care, computing and other critical sectors. Ultimately DPI will host up to 90 faculty members and 1,800 graduate and undergraduate students who will work at the institute and other businesses across the city for one to four semesters.

“Research, education and innovation are guiding principles for The 78—one of the largest and most ambitious projects ever conceived in Chicago—so when we learned of the U of I System’s mission, we were eager to not just support it, but accelerate it by providing a blank canvas on which the institute can be developed,” Bailey added.

Putting out the welcome mat

DPI will have an anchor position at The 78, but it may very well wind up sharing the spotlight with arguably the biggest name in the e-commerce world. Moving forward with the Windy City’s bid to become the location of Amazon’s second North American headquarters—the $5 billion Amazon HQ2—Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner recently released a list of potential sites for the project, and The 78 made the cut, described as one of the most ambitious developments in Chicago’s history and the future home of DPI.

Related Midwest and U of I System expect to have an implementation plan, including a timetable, in place in 2018.

Image courtesy of University of Illinois System

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