Friday, February 19, 2010

Chatham welcomes green office building

As you ride along 79th Street between King Drive and Cottage Grove Avenue you'll notice a few new fast food joints, several hair and nail salons and two dollar stores. You may also a notice a new “green” retail and office building on the northeast corner of Champlain Avenue, aiming to spur a re-birth of “value added” businesses to the community once completed, said the building's owners.
Clarence and Lisa Hall, proprietors of CHL Properties LLC, own a few mixed-use buildings in the area, including a barber college a few blocks away, and decided to go strictly commercial for their next investment.
“When we look for property to buy, we look for eyesores in the community. We came across the city-owned building in 2006 and began the process of trying to acquire it,” Lisa Hall told the Defender.
Since the building was owned by the City of Chicago, the Halls had to get support from Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th) and the Chatham/Avalon Park Community Council before snagging the final approval from the city.
As preliminary designs for the 12,000-square-foot two-level building were presented, the couple realized they were a few steps away from a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System.
Construction on the “Chatham Executive Building” began in 2008 and it's currently 90 percent complete.
“We were doing as much as possible to be cost-friendly with the construction that it ended up being a mostly green building. It wasn't our intention and this certainly was before the big green revolution started. When we found out we were a few notches away from LEED status, we decided to go all the way,” said Clarence Hall.
The LEED system was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council and provides a list of standards for environmentally sustainable construction.
Everything in the building must be energy and environmentally efficient, and tenants must adhere to a recycling policy and other standards as required by the LEED system. The couple also had to agree to recycle more than half of the materials that were demolished, the wife said.
Paints used are eco-friendly, the type of insulation used was eco-friendly, the HVAC system draws in fresh air from the outside, the roof is live with greenery, low-flow plumbing fixtures were used, each retail space is zoned heating and cooling that can be controlled from a laptop, the building includes specially-designed glass to help with lighting, and it is located a certain distance away from a public transportation stop. All of this factors into the building's classification as LEED Silver Construction.
The building is equipped with an alarm system and surveillance cameras and has 15 off-street parking spaces.
“There are buildings downtown, on the North Side and in the suburbs that are green. We decided to try to be the pioneers on the South Side with our building. Our building will rival any office building in those areas. The bottom line is we want it to be a gem in Chatham,” said Lisa Hall.
The Halls said too often residents in the community have to travel to the suburbs or the other side of town for goods and services they could easily receive in their backyard. But first, the community must demand for those businesses in their community.
They're looking for an anchor business in the building, hoping it'll create a domino effect and ignite revitalization in the area, the husband said.
A health/wellness spa, an upscale shoe store and boutique and a production studio have been courted to lease in the building. The ground level has five retail spaces for lease and the top level has eight executive office spaces, a reception area and a conference room.
“I'd love to ride by and see some brown legs in the air,” Lisa Hall said, referring to a desire to have a dance studio lease space in the building.
Lisa Hall said once the building is complete and business traffic starts flowing, she hopes the community and other businesses will get on board and want to do the same.
“After seeing what we've been able to accomplish, we hope other commercial property owners will want to go the same route and have a 'green' building,” she said.

No comments: