Construction crews work at Bell Works Chicagoland, the 1.65 million-square-foot former AT&T headquarters campus in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, which is now slated to become a mixed-use property by Somerset Development — Courtesy: Somerset Development
By Joshua Burd
Somerset Development has taken new steps in its plan to open a second Bell Works location, luring its first office and retail tenants to a 1.65 million-square-foot campus outside Chicago.
The Holmdel-based developer announced Monday that CPA Group Advisors has signed a lease for what it calls Bell Works Chicagoland, the site of a former AT&T headquarters complex in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Additionally, the firm detailed an agreement with Fairgrounds Craft Coffee and Tea, a Chicago-based artisan café that will open an outpost at the property.
“Our first leases at Bell Works Chicagoland are so much more than just leases — they are the affirmation that this longstanding property, which was home to thousands of workers in the region, is once again alive,” said Ralph Zucker, president of Somerset Development. “From sole proprietors in our collaborative workspaces to corporate tenants in our customizable large-format spaces, we’re building a true community at Bell Works Chicagoland, and we’re thrilled to have CPA Advisors Group and Fairgrounds as foundational members of that community.”
The $200 million redevelopment, which is taking place about 30 miles outside Chicago, aims to mimic the success of Somerset’s landmark Bell Works project in Holmdel. The developer has tapped many of the same New Jersey-based professionals that helped it succeed at repurposing the former Bell Labs campus, including The Garibaldi Group and law firm Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla, along with designers Alexander Gorlin and NPZ Style + Decor.
With Bell Works Chicagoland, Zucker’s firm will look to create a walkable, downtown-style environment inside the massive building, 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.
“Bell Works Chicagoland represents so much of Hoffman Estates’ appeal to residents and businesses: the ability to forge connections and build community within arms’ reach of the city,” said William McLeod, the mayor of Hoffman Estates. “That the former AT&T facility will once again welcome workers through its doors is an encouraging sign for Bell Works and a milestone for Hoffman Estates as a whole.”
Somerset Development recently formed a partnership with Fairgrounds Craft Coffee and Tea, which offers an array of craft coffee, teas and other specialty beverages, according to a news release. The operator’s current portfolio in Chicago spans locations such as Bucktown, Fulton Market and the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel in Chicago, while it has also expanded to Chicago-area suburbs and beyond to Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Los Angeles.
Fairgrounds will operate a kiosk at Bell Works Chicagoland beginning in December, with plans to open a permanent location with a full cocktail bar on site in early 2022.
“Bringing Fairgrounds to Bell Works Chicagoland is an incredibly exciting venture for us,” said Michael Schultz, the chain’s founder and CEO. “The ‘Metroburb’ concept — combining urbanity in suburbia — offers a dynamic and vibrant environment we immediately knew we wanted to be a part of. We look forward to becoming a founding member of such a celebrated endeavor and addition to the Hoffman Estates community.”
The office leasing team at Bell Works Chicagoland includes Steve Kling, Francis Prock and Jason Simon, all principals with Colliers International, and The Garibaldi Group CEO Jeffrey Garibaldi Sr., Vice President Tara Keating and Broker Support Analyst Lindsey Florio.
CPA Advisors Group, a boutique full-service accounting firm, will occupy one of the property’s prebuilt designer suites, which offer immediate occupancy for small to midsized businesses.
“Both CPA Advisors Group and Fairgrounds were attracted to the property after witnessing the unbelievable transformation that took place in Bell Works New Jersey,” Kling said. “Bell Works New Jersey has become a magnet for the brightest businesses in the region and a cultural asset for the surrounding community. Bell Works Chicagoland is an exciting reiteration of the successful Metroburb model, and is on track to follow in this same manner.”
Interior renovations at the property have continued on schedule in spite of the pandemic, Somerset said. Originally built as the Ameritech Center in 1990, the 150-acre corporate campus and former AT&T headquarters was originally designed by Lohan Associates.
Architect Dirk Lohan has returned to the project alongside Wight & Co., joining Alexander Gorlin Architects and NPZ Style + Décor from the original Bell Works team.