This past winter, representatives from Peoples Gas unveiled plans for its new 2-story, 84,433-square-foot North Shop Field Service Center at 4025 W. Peterson Ave.
Aldermen and company officials held a public meeting in February to lay out their plans to redevelop the former Commerce Clearing House and Automatic Spring Coiling Co. site, which had been vacant for about two years and has since been razed to accommodate Peoples’ planned development.
Located on the southwest corner of Peterson and Pulaski, the property was chosen due to its proximity to Peoples Gas customers and to improve response times for service calls.
“Many of our locations that you may be familiar with now are over 100 years old. We are outgrowing our spots – it is not conducive to today’s operations,” Peoples Gas Chief of Staff Polly Eldringhoff previously said. “This site came up on our radar, and it’s a really appropriate site to serve all of our northern territory in the City of Chicago.”
North Shop, perspective from the Northwest corner
The facility will house Peoples’ personnel and assets engaged in operating the utility company and maintaining its infrastructure systems.
The center is expected to employ approximately 436 staff members and will include employee locker and fitness rooms, a warehouse and vehicle maintenance shop, second-floor conference rooms, a 450-seat training room, and offices for employee coordination and dispatch. In the addition, the site will also provide employee parking, maintenance vehicle parking and material storage.
“It’s not a headquarters building, it’s not a bill pay center. It’s a depot for the employees to use to exercise their jobs,” Eric Fors, Construction Management Consultant for Peoples Gas, said. “Company employees would check in at the beginning of their shift, talk to their supervisor, get their assignments for the day, and then collect their materials and equipment that they need to do their job, and go out to the different points in the city that need work to be done. Upon completing the jobs, they return their equipment and materials to the site.”
The new facility aims to represent Peoples’ commitment to continue improvement in operating efficiencies, safety, customer service and employee engagement.
Epstein is pleased to be providing architect of record and civil engineering services for the North Shop, which will serve as the prototype for possible additional Chicagoland centers. Epstein is partnering with the McKissack & McKissack and FH Paschen joint venture. McKissack & McKissack is the design architect and program contractor and FH Paschen is serving as the general contractor.
Peoples is relocating and redeveloping the Field Service Center because their existing ones are very outdated, as well as very undersized. Their current facilities do not have the necessary space requirements in terms of both work and storage space. These centers house welding, carpentry and tapping shops, in addition to extremely large cranes and an assortment of equipment.
“Times are changing. Everybody is upgrading and Peoples doesn’t have what they need right now at their current locations,” said Epstein’s Priyanka Rao, AIA, Epstein’s Project Architect for this assignment. “They’re building the prototype, which will be state-of-the-art, to ensure they can continue operating to their standards. Any additional facilities will then mimic the North Shop.
“This facility is a big, big upgrade for them.”
As the AOR, Epstein is responsible for the building’s technical design accuracy as well as delivering the construction documents. We are also tasked with getting equipment clearances and ensuring all Chicago Building Code requirements are met.
“It’s Epstein’s job to make sure the building is a completely functional building that meets the client’s need,” Priyanka said.
We are also thrilled that the facility will be designed and built in compliance with the City of Chicago Sustainable Development Guidelines, which requires development projects that are receiving financial assistance of special approvals from the City to include sustainable elements. The policy has been a driving force in making Chicago a global leader in the green roof movement, as well as the number of LEED certified projects.
In order to comply with the Sustainable Development Policy, Epstein’s civil engineers performed a number of services. For the site engineering, for example, they provided a unique stormwater component.
In most developments, there is a depression in the ground, providing a natural area to hold stormwater. This site, however, didn’t have any room for a stormwater detention pond because Peoples needed that space to park their vehicles. As a result, our civil engineers are instead implementing a StormTrap© system, which is an underground precast detention system that holds stormwater runoff that can then be released to the City’s combined sewer at a controlled rate.
“Many use this system, but most of the time StormTrap© is not the first choice because it’s a bit more costly than a traditional detention basin,” said Dave Hilty, PE, Epstein’s Project Manager of Civil Engineering. “However, we’ve chosen to use it here because it’s the best solution for the site. By collecting the stormwater underground, it’s worth it to Peoples Gas because it helps them utilize their property more effectively.”
Specifically, the company will now have an additional acre of land to park their vehicles that would have otherwise been used to store stormwater.
Peoples’ North Shop is expected to be built and occupied by the end of 2019.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel with Epstein's Randy Buescher, Director of Architecture, and Alex Chu, Senior Project Manager.
Peoples Gas has said it is committed to be a good neighbor and a contributing part to every community it serves. As such, the company has been working with 39th-Ward Ald. Margaret Laurino for well over a year to ensure that the development of the project is acceptable to the neighborhood and has support.
“It’s nice to know that Peoples Gas is making the environment a priority at these new facilities; and Epstein is working together with Peoples to make that happen,” Dave said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Peoples Gas president and CEO Charles Matthews Tuesday to break ground on the North Shop. Of the project, Emanuel said, "This significant new investment will transform a vacant lot into an economic engine and bring hundreds of good-paying jobs with it. Building a new North Shop will help build a new Chicago, creating the 21st century infrastructure that is the foundation of a 21st century economy."