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GLENVIEW, IL-The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of The United Methodist Church has broken ground on its new 110,000-square-foot office in north suburban Glenview, IL. The non-profit administrative agency of the church is relocating its headquarters to the 25-acre parcel near Chestnut Avenue from two buildings it previously occupied and owned in neighboring Evanston. The General Board has both Evanston buildings under contract for sale and closed in April on its new property, which will house 250 employees.

“The General Board had been in Evanston for more than 40 years, and this is very much a long-term move for them,” says MB Real Estate VP of Project Services David Graff, who represents the agency in the development. “We took advantage of standardizing offices and work stations to be consistent and in line with today’s standards, so the building is extremely more efficient from a planning perspective. The idea is that the new building allows for internal growth for a good period of time on a site that can accommodate them for the next forty years at least.”

Being constructed by Power Construction, the three-story building was designed by OWP/P to allow for an additional 25,000-square-foot expansion as needed in the future. The property was divided to allow for a second development parcel on Chestnut Avenue. The General Board was represented by MB Real Estate EVP Andrew Davidson and SVP Jay Beadle in the purchase of the land from Walton Street, while Graff is acting as development representative, managing the project.

“Location-wise, they very much liked the area and felt it was going to be a good place for them to be in the future,” Graff says. “They liked the site because it’s very quiet, serene and natural with a lot woods and natural species. They’re not opulent, they’re not showy and they’re all about this stewardship.” Graff says the development is planned to be LEED-certified and will incorporate sustainable greenery and plantings, bioswales, tall grasses, natural drainage.

Graff says that while the General Board’s new space is about equivalent in size to the two buildings it previously owned in Evanston, it offers a more efficient layout. Graff declined to disclose the sales price of the land or the estimated cost of the development. He did say the agency is benefiting from building at this point in the market cycle due to lower costs.

“Now you kind of have to be extremely dollar-conscious, but we’ve been working with them for years and everything has always been checks and balances against dollar and stewardship and value,” Graff tells GlobeSt.com. “There has never been a better time to build than right now and we’re getting the best contractors at unbelievable prices. The benefit to this horrible market is that the construction pricing is phenomenal and really tremendous.”

Graff says the development’s price tag has fallen at least 20% from what was originally quoted for the project about six months ago. “When the market turns – and eventually it will because it always does – these cost savings will evaporate pretty quickly, and you go right back to where you were and then you start to look at cost escalation,” he says. “If you’re an owner taking a long-term view of things, there’s really no better time to do it and they’ll be benefiting from these cost savings for the next forty years.

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