HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL—Somerset Development, an innovator in large-scale mixed-use redevelopment, has completed the acquisition of a 150-acre former AT&T corporate campus in Hoffman Estates, IL, which will serve as the future site for the next Bell Works. The acquisition terms were not disclosed. According to Real Capital Analytics, a proprietary research database that tracks commercialreal estate transactions, the seller was C-III Asset Management in a joint venture with Bear Stearns Commercial Mortgage Securities Trust 2006-PWR11.
Somerset partnered with Triangle Capital Group on the transaction.
Somerset’s plans for Bell Works will transform the vacant former AT&T corporate campus into Chicagoland’s first ‘Metroburb’—a term coined by Somerset’s president and CEO Ralph Zucker to describe a self-contained urban core in suburbia. The acquisition comes on the heels of the resounding success of Somerset Development’s first Bell Works concept in Holmdel, NJ, where it has transformed a two-million-square-foot former Bell Labs headquarters into a first-of-its-kind ecosystem of offices, shops, dining, event space, hospitality, and community resources.
“Today marks an important milestone for Bell Works, and another huge step toward the creation of Chicagoland’s first metroburb,” says Zucker. “This property serves as an ideal canvas for the kind of dynamic, urban-inspired destination we have successfully created at the original Bell Works. We are tremendously thankful to the Village of Hoffman Estates for believing in our vision and look forward to working together to revive this property and usher in a new era of prosperity for this community.”
Taconic Capital Advisors provided acquisition financing and a future funding facility for pre-development costs. Colliers will serve as exclusive broker for Somerset Development.
“Colliers is extremely excited to be working with Somerset on the development of the Bell Works project in Hoffman Estates,” says Colliers principal Steve Kling. “Bell Works is much more than a live, work, play marketing campaign – it is a revolutionary project that hits a bullseye on everything the modern employer is looking for. The creation of a new metroburb will bring new life and energy to this campus, and we are honored to be a part of that process.”
Unanimously approved by Hoffman Estates officials in January, the approximately $200 million redevelopment plans for Bell Works will create an exciting, walkable downtown-style centerpiece for the Village, complete with 1.2 million square feet of office space, 60,000 square feet of conference facilities, storage and amenities, and 60,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space.
The current three-building, 1.65-million square foot campus has been vacant since 2016.
Bell Works’ location in Chicagoland will draw inspiration from Bell Works, Somerset Development’s acclaimed reimagination of the former Bell Labs facility in Holmdel, which it launched in 2013. Once the country’s largest vacant office campus, it has now been transformed into a thriving metroburb, creating a new model for the revitalization of abandoned former single-tenant corporate campuses.
Since its opening, Bell Works has completed more than one million square feet of commercial leases, including approximately 90 percent of its office space. Today, the building is home to more than 70 signed tenants and welcomes thousands of workers daily, in addition to regular visitors from the surrounding community. “The Block at Bell Works” – its thriving ground-floor array of retail destinations – includes a gourmet food market, restaurants, café, boutique barre and group fitness studio, a florist, public dental office and jeweler.
The building is also home to a state-of-the-art conference and event center and future 186-room rooftop hotel, as well as public amenities including Holmdel’s public library and the Holmdel Montessori school.