PULLMAN — A team of developers unveiled plans to build a 400,000-square-foot industrial facility in the Pullman neighborhood, bolstering the neighborhood’s growing industrial park.
The project, which will be located in the Pullman Crossings development near newer manufacturing and distribution centers operated by companies such as Method soap, Whole Foods and Gotham Greens, will be a speculative investment for the neighborhood, being announced and constructed without an anchor tenant in place.
The project comes via a partnership between the Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies and Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, a Pullman developer that has played a leading role in much of the neighborhood’s newer industrial investment and construction.
The facility will include 120 loading bays up to 56-feet tall, the developers say. The project will be the largest speculative investment for Chicago’s South Side in decades, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives President David Doig told Block Club Chicago.
Tim Hennelly, the Great Lakes regional lead for developer Ryan Companies, which will maintain ownership of the facility once constructed, said Pullman’s proximity to the interstate system and rail makes it a opportune location for food distribution, e-commerce, or logistics companies.
“We believe if you build it, they will come,” Hennelly said of the project. “We think there is a lot of demand for space, and being able to tell a tenant that you can get them in within two months is better than telling them 18 months.”
Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) said the project is another example of investor confidence in Pullman. While the facility is being constructed with no anchor tenant in place, Beale said the future user must be a good fit for Pullman.
“We want decent wages and that’s the first thing we’re going to look at,” Beale said. “We need to be working together toward maximizing jobs for Chicago but make sure that it’s a good fit for the area.”
Before any user is finalized for the site, Beale said he plans to host a community meeting in Pullman. Additionally, Beale questioned the speculative nature of the investment, suggesting that a tenants may be “coming in short order.”
Ryan Companies, which previously developed the Whole Foods distribution center for Pullman Crossings, also has a direct relationship with Amazon, which acquired Whole Foods in 2017. According to official Ryan Companies marketing materials, the company developed a massive 2.33 million square-foot fulfillment center for Amazon outside of the Twin Cities in Minnesota.
The distribution center for Pullman would be a fraction of the size of Amazon’s primary fulfillment hubs, but it’s anticipated to be the largest new logistics project in the area, dwarfing the 100,000-square-foot Method plant and 100,000-square-foot Whole Foods center.
Hennelly said Ryan Companies is not in talks with Amazon for the site. He suggested the facility would be a good fit for a major food business, pointing to the previous investments from Whole Foods and Gotham Greens. Pullman’s position as a major food distribution hub will likely continue to grow in Chicago and the greater Midwest region, he said.
Whoever the eventual user, it is likely the new South Side facility would serve the greater Downtown area.
“Our national tenants are e-commerce companies, and they’re trying to figure out what the last mile looks like,” Hennelly said. “They’ve been doing big warehouses, but there’s a need for smaller facilities — for instance, we can get to Loop from Pullman in just 20 minutes.”
Construction of the new facility is expected to start in May and take eight to ten months to complete.