CHICAGO—In the last few years, TuckerDevelopment has concentrated on developing a set ofhigh-profile mixed-use properties in New Jersey. ButRichard Tucker, the chief executive officer, tellsGlobeSt.com that with projects like Hudson Lightsin suburban Fort Lee well underway, the Highland Park, IL-basedcompany is ready to refocus on Chicagoland.

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And although the company is best known here for retail projectslike South Loop Marketplace andMarketplace at Six Corners in Chicago, andCountry Club Plaza, a 450,000-square-foot center in suburban Country ClubHills, Tucker says he hopes to soon launch mixed-use projects withboth retail and luxury rental, similar to their recent New Jerseyefforts.

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Adding luxury rental to these projects makes a great deal ofsense, he says, since the modest and belated increase in rents forretail properties remains below the hike in construction costs.“It's really something we believe in; the retail and luxury rentalcomponents, which people are finding have pretty strong occupancyrates, can feed off of one another.”

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For example, Phase I of Tucker's Hudson Lights, aone-million-square-foot development located at the entrance to theGeorge Washington Bridge, will feature about 143,000-square-feet ofretail space and 276 luxury apartments.

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It made sense for Tucker to develop such projects in a coastalmarket like New Jersey, with its tremendous density and access tocapital, as the economic recovery began. But now that the recoveryhas arrived in the Midwest, he feels Chicago and many of itssuburbs present remarkable opportunities.

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“We have about five different deals in progress,” he says, butis not ready to provide many details. “These projects could takesix to eighteen months to finalize, but we're setting our sights ongetting two in the ground during 2015.” And the projects won't besmall. Tucker expects each will cost at least $50 million, and“unfortunately, given what construction costs are today, they couldbe closer to $100 million.”

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And, as the company did in New Jersey, he adds, it will focus ondense, affluent areas that are underserved by luxury rental unitsand retail. “Fort Lee is dramatically underserved; there hadn'tbeen a new project there in many years.” He points to Chicagodeveloper Dan McCaffrey's Roosevelt Collection inthe South Loop as a good example of what the company wants to do.“That's a market that is now highly dense and affluent that canhandle a project with residences and retail.”

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“It's not as if we are leaving New Jersey,” he says. The companystill has to finish up the giant Hudson Lights and other ventures,and has even started hunting around for additional opportunities onthe New York side of the river. “But my hope is that in about sixmonths we will be able to talk about a timeline for our Chicagoprojects.”

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Brian J. Rogal

Brian J. Rogal is a Chicago-based freelance writer with years of experience as an investigative reporter and editor, most notably at The Chicago Reporter, where he concentrated on housing issues. He also has written extensively on alternative energy and the payments card industry for national trade publications.