Foley and the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) have been awarded the prestigious Phoenix Award™ for excellence in brownfield redevelopment projects. Created in 1997, this award honors individuals and groups who are working to solve the critical environmental challenge of transforming blighted and contaminated areas into productive new uses. The Phoenix Awards™ are widely recognized, and are often referred to as “the Brownfields equivalent of the Hollywood Oscar”.
The 2007 Community Impact Award has been bestowed upon the University of Illinois Chicago South Campus Development. Several Foley attorneys, including Beth Corey, Bruce Keyes, Linda Benfield, and Dean Victor teamed up with UIC to resolve the environmental, zoning, and other land use challenges.
Ms. Corey and Mr. Keyes, along with the other project participants, will be honored at an awards ceremony during Brownfields 2008 in Detroit, Michigan, May 5-7, where award winners will have the opportunity to showcase their projects with case study presentations and exhibits.
The UIC development project is located in the heart of Chicago. In its heyday, the area was known as the Maxwell Street Market District, a vibrant, diverse community of merchants and residents. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, this once-charming community was slowly replaced by industrial warehouse buildings, gas stations, auto repair shops, junk yards, coal and glass companies, and waste material facilities, including a car battery reclamation site. By 1985, this area deteriorated into a brownfield site, blighted with abandoned and dilapidated buildings and crime.
UIC assembled roughly eight city blocks and acted as the “pre-developer” by securing entitlements and resolving environmental uncertainty. The Foley team managed the environmental issues, assisted with commercial leasing (historic preservation concerns, condemnation, and relocation proceedings) and structured and managed the relationship between UIC and the developer of the private housing and commercial facilities. The Foley team also led negotiations with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to develop an innovative approach to streamlining the process of cleanup approval to more efficiently synchronize with development steps.
Today, after an ambitious, 10-year $525-million brownfield project, the area is now an active, vibrant community that features 900 new private residences, a vibrant commercial center, student housing, academic buildings and recreational fields, offering a high quality of life to diverse residents while generating economic activity minutes from downtown.