Developer names partners in Hoffman Estates Bell Works project

New Jersey-based Somerset Development isn't disclosing the terms of its purchase of the 150-acre former AT&T campus in Hoffman Estates this week, but it has named the other firms providing financing and brokerage services for the multiyear redevelopment project to turn the site into the second Bell Works "metroburb."

While Somerset partnered with Triangle Capital Group on the transaction, a second New York City-based company - Taconic Capital Advisors - provided financing for the purchase.

Colliers International in Rosemont will be the exclusive broker for Somerset Development as it strives to repeat the success of the original Bell Works residential and commercial development in Holmdel, New Jersey.

"Colliers is extremely excited to be working with Somerset on the development of the Bell Works project in Hoffman Estates," Colliers Principal Steve Kling said in a written statement. "Bell Works is much more than a live, work, play marketing campaign - it is a revolutionary project that hits a bull's-eye 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 AT&T campus opened in 1989 with 1.65 million square feet shared among three buildings, and at its peak housed about 5,000 employees, Hoffman Estates officials said.

The company announced plans to close the campus in 2013 and the last employees there were relocated in 2016. Soon after, with AT&T's lease expired, the longtime owner of the campus was served with a foreclosure suit after no further rent was being collected. The buildings have been vacant ever since.

Somerset's plans include: 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 within the existing structures.

The developer also plans to sell some of the land adjacent to the main building to another firm, not yet named, that would fulfill the project's residential component. This includes 380 multifamily units and 170 townhouses. Though the number of both types is allowed to vary by 8 percent, the total number cannot exceed 500.

The original Bell Works similarly adapted the even larger Bell Labs building in Holmdel, but differs in that it also includes single-family houses.

"This property serves as an ideal canvas for the kind of dynamic, urban-inspired destination we have successfully created at the original Bell Works," Somerset President and CEO Ralph Zucker said in a written statement. "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."

Though construction is hoped to begin later this year, the total build out is expected to take five to seven years.

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