Values are prudent, Real Estate Journal, May 24, 1999
“The mayor wants more prudent retail and better shopping centers,” says Keith Lord, president of Lord Cos. and a long-
time urban developer. Lord helped steer the city's Department of Planning and Development in creating the design codes.
“Daley wants better building materials, which would make the city a much better looking place. So the department will raise
the bar by increasing requirements for planning and developing the look for a retail center.”
Lord Says the ordinances will leave some retail developers “bellyaching,” but adds that the overall effect of the ordinances
will go a long way in making Chicago a more attractive city to live, visit and to do business in. He says suburban
communities have their own design ordinances…
Lord says the ordinances are designed to thwart the strip mall mentality. “Swinging parking out to the side makes it look
less like a strip mall,” he says. “And that’s a good thing. Urban retail is not suburban retail. It has to be built differently.”
Lord admits the city rules will make strip center development downtown more expensive, and the added costs wont be
paid by the developers, but by tenants.
Ultimately, the city is bargaining from a position of strength. Unlike manufacturers, which usually value suburban space
over city facilities, retailers crave city space. Studies show that inner-city residents spend more money on clothes, electrics
and furniture than the average U.S. household.
Lord argues that even if rents in Chicago escalate $1 per square foot, tenants shouldn’t complain. Chicago retail revenues
are high enough to justify a rent hike – thanks to a high density of shoppers per city block. “Chicago has the highes volume
Whole Foods, the highest volume Target and the highest volume Home Depot. Something is rigt about being downtown,”
he says “And if they are setting volume records, then they are setting profit records.
-Matthew DoBias, Real Estate Journal