SBD/April 30, 2012/Facilities

United Center Planning Estimated $80M Retail Development Backed By Reinsdorf, Wirtz

The proposed venue would have restaurants, bars and a team store
The United Center's owners -- Bulls Owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Blackhawks Owner Rocky Wirtz -- hope a $75-85M "retail development soon will take flight,” according to Ori & Maidenberg of CRAIN’S CHICAGO BUSINESS. Documents show that Reinsdorf “is leading a venture that plans to build 260,000 square feet of restaurants, bars, a team store and event space in the sprawling parking lot east of the arena.” Wirtz also “would be part of the venture, which could include team offices, parking, a terrace and a green roof.” The privately funded development would be “another step in the West Side neighborhood's evolution from a gritty area where people venture only for Bulls and Blackhawks games to one where more people want to live and have fun.” The documents, prepared by the Metropolitan Planning Council and “first presented to state legislative leaders in 2010, indicate the arena would add four restaurants, four bars, a team store and event space.” The proposal was “not revealed publicly at the time,” but a source said that Reinsdorf and Wirtz now “are getting ready to revive talks with city and state leaders.” One potential “stumbling block is whether the developers will have to help fund a long-discussed Pink Line station at Madison and Paulina streets.” United Center leadership also is “expected to seek an extension of a 1989 state law that currently caps its property taxes through 2017.” Taxpayer subsidies for another private development owned by millionaires “likely would be controversial, as the city and state work to slash their own budgets.” The United Center “was privately funded and its owners are not believed to be seeking any city or state aid beyond an extension of the tax cap” (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 4/30). In Chicago, Maureen O’Donnell noted the new facility “would be built on Lot H, known as the ‘Michael Jordan’ lot for its statue of the Bulls legend.” The source said, “He’d have a roof over him.” The source added that the roof “would link to the United Center via an atrium.” The source said, “It’s like a mall attached to a sports arena” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/29). K.C.-based 360 Architecture has been hired to design the retail development (THE DAILY).
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