Office N Illinois

Somerset Development plans to transform former AT&T campus into “Metroburb”

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Somerset Development has acquired the former AT&T corporate campus in Hoffman Estates, Illinois for an undisclosed amount, partnering with Triangle Capital Group on the transaction. The 150-acre property will serve as the future site for Chicagoland’s first “Metroburb”—a self-contained urban core in suburbia.

The three-building, 1.62-million-square-foot campus has been vacant since 2016. Somerset Development plans to repeat their Bell Works concept that turned a two-million-square-foot former Bell Labs headquarters in Holmdel, New Jersey into a first-of-its-kind ecosystem of offices, shops, dining, event space, hospitality and community resources.

“Today marks an important milestone for Bell Works, and another huge step toward the creation of Chicagoland’s first metroburb,” said Ralph Zucker, president and CEO of Somerset Development. “This property serves as an ideal canvas for the kind of dynamic, urban-inspired destination we have successfully created at the original Bell Works. We are tremendously thankful to the village of Hoffman Estates for believing in our vision and look forward to working together to revive this property and usher in a new era of prosperity for this community.”

Taconic Capital Advisors provided acquisition financing and a future funding facility for pre-development costs. Colliers International will serve as exclusive broker for Somerset Development.

“Colliers is extremely excited to be working with Somerset on the development of the Bell Works project in Hoffman Estates,” said Colliers principal Steve Kling. “Bell Works is much more than a live, work, play marketing campaign—it is a revolutionary project that hits a bullseye on everything the modern employer is looking for. The creation of a new metroburb will bring new life and energy to this campus, and we are honored to be a part of that process.”

The former AT&T campus was completed in 1991 and is comprised of a 1,300,000-square-foot, four-story building; a 280,000-square-foot, six-story building and a single-story, 40,000-square-foot building. Features include naturally lit atriums, granite balconies, 10-foot ceilings and over 4,000 parking spaces including on-site covered parking availability for up to 1,675 vehicles. The grounds include walking paths and is adjacent to a 1,800-acre county forest preserve.

Unanimously approved by Hoffman Estates officials in January, the approximately $200 million redevelopment plans for Bell Works will create an exciting, walkable downtown-style centerpiece for the village, 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.

The Hoffman Estates project will draw inspiration from the New Jersey Bell Works development, which launched in 2013. Once the country’s largest vacant office campus, the redeveloped property has completed more than one million square feet of commercial leases, including approximately 90 percent of its office space. Today, the building is home to over 70 signed tenants and welcomes thousands of workers daily, in addition to regular visitors from the surrounding community.

Features of the Bell Works site include a state-of-the-art conference and event center, public amenities like a public library and a Montessori school and a future 186-room rooftop hotel. A ground-floor array of retail destinations offers a gourmet food market, restaurants, café, a florist, a public dental office, a jeweler and a boutique barre and group fitness studio.

Hoffman Estates approved a tax increment financing district as an economic incentive for the commercial part of the development. Somerset also plans to sell a portion of the adjacent land to another developer for the construction of 380 multifamily residential units and 170 townhouses.