Sterling Bay buying Fulton Market site next to Google

One of the last remaining meat companies in the Fulton Market District is cashing out after cutting a deal with the neighborhood’s most familiar buyer.

Chicago developer Sterling Bay, which has been instrumental in transforming the once-gritty zone of meatpackers and food wholesalers into a trendy corridor of offices, hotels and retailers, has a contract to buy the Pioneer Wholesale Meat property at 1000 W. Carroll Ave. for around $20 million, according to sources familiar with the deal.

It’s a play Sterling Bay has run repeatedly over the past few years with old-line companies looking to capitalize on the soaring value of their properties, and the deal sets up another potential redevelopment near the epicenter of the fast-changing area.

Pioneer’s 13,000-square-foot facility is on a little more than an acre immediately north of the former Fulton Market Cold Storage building, which Sterling Bay bought in 2012 and redeveloped into an office building that became Google’s Midwest headquarters. That deal set off a rush of new development and companies setting up shop in the neighborhood.

Sterling Bay will have to wait to redevelop the Pioneer site, as the 73-year-old meat wholesaler is not slated to leave until 2020, when it moves to a new facility a few miles west, according to a source.

Pioneer Wholesale Meat President Bill Milligan and a Sterling Bay spokeswoman both declined to comment.

The deal comes with Google bursting at the seams next door at its 1000 W. Fulton St. office, where it houses more than 900 employees and recently added 14,000 square feet on the building’s ground floor. The company is in talks to lease an additional 100,000 square feet down the street at another Sterling Bay development underway at 210 N. Carpenter St.

Other developers have gravitated toward properties near Google, betting on future demand for office users that want to be near the search giant as well as McDonald’s new global headquarters two blocks away.

Among the recent projects: Veteran developer Mark Goodman is planning to build a 12-story, 268,000-square-foot office building just east of Google at 310 N. Sangamon St., while construction firm Summit Design+Build is putting up a five-story boutique office building just to the west of Google at 1040 W. Fulton St.

Sterling Bay has another project in the works across the street from Google at 345 N. Morgan St., where it aims to put a movie theater. The developer has also remained an active buyer of old industrial properties in the area, reaching a deal recently with Archer Daniels Midland to buy its wheat mill on the western edge of Fulton Market.

Pioneer is following suit with many of its peers in the historic meatpacking district that have sold to various developers swooping in to gentrify Fulton Market.

Cash-outs have included the Amity Packing meat-processing plant on Green Street, which was sold to a venture led by developer Shapack Partners in 2013 and turned into a loft office building primarily occupied by co-working firm WeWork; wholesaler Quality Food Products, which cut a $52 million deal in 2015 with Highland Park-based Tucker Development for its properties on and around Randolph Street, and El Cubano Wholesale Meats, which sold its 30,000-square-foot building at 914-926 W. Fulton Market in 2016. Other sales include Economy Packing and Sam’s Meat just west of the Google office, Isaacson & Stein Fish, Aspen Foods and John R. Morreale Meat.

Food wholesaler Nealey Foods, which last year left its longtime Fulton Market home for a new facility in South Lawndale, is seeking a buyer for its pair of properties at 900-914 and 911-923 W. Fulton St. Another company, Pastorelli Food Products, has been shopping its property, while jerky and sausage product maker Bridgford Foods is moving its operations to the Back of the Yards neighborhood and planning a redevelopment of its property.

Pioneer is one of a handful of old-line companies still operating in the area, a group that includes Variety Meat, poultry processor Cougle Commission and wholesaler Fox De Luxe Foods.


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