February 24, 2020

The Margin: Changing of guard at Willis Tower highlights turbulent period for Chicago real estate

It’s not just the changing of the guard at Willis (né Sears) Tower. The first quarter of 2015 has been a turbulent time for trophy towers and other notable structures throughout Chicago’s built environment.

It was confirmed Monday that Willis Tower, the world’s tallest building from its completion in 1973 until 1998, is being acquired by Blackstone Group

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 from New York investors Joseph Chetrit and Joseph Moinian and Skokie, Ill.–based American Landmark Properties. They paid $841 million for the tower in 2004, while Blackstone’s purchase price of $1.3 million is, according to Crain’s Chicago Business, set to become the highest ever paid for a U.S. office building outside Manhattan.

For Chicagoans, who’ve only reluctantly learned to identify the 110-story skyscraper by the name of the U.K. insurance broker

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rather than that of the Chicago-area-based retailer

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 , the deal delivers none of the psychic blow that its renaming in 2009, in accord with the terms of the Willis Group lease, did.

But, among Cubs diehards, Opening Day at a bleacher-free Wrigley Field is something else entirely. Off-season renovation work fell behind schedule late last year, and, to add insult to injury, City Hall declined recently to bend the rules — and raise neighborhood ire — by allowing construction to proceed around the clock. It’s been reported that it will be May before the famed bleachers are open; even then, only the left- and center-field sections will be at box-office disposal. The right-field bleachers are slated for June completion.

Even in a sports-mad city, though, ballparks are not held quite as dear as municipal parks. And in Grant Park, dubbed Chicago’s Front Door, and down in Hyde Park, near the University of Chicago, that’s what’s at stake.

On the South Side, there’s been controversy over a prospective location for the Obama presidential library, with a U. of C.–led bid requiring acquisition of park land. The matter has grown touchy enough locally that it’s been reported by Melissa Harris of the Chicago Tribune that the announcement of a decision is likely to be withheld until after the April 7 mayoral runoff. (The Chicago Sun-Times’ Michael Sneed, meanwhile, has reported that the Obamas themselves may no longer be planning a return to Chicago in January 2017.)

In Grant Park, meanwhile, the building-upon of Chicago Park District property — all but verboten by local tradition — is again at issue. George Lucas’s decision to locate his visual-arts museum in Chicago was likely predicated on a prime lakefront location and a central role in the city’s Museum Campus, but the project has met with challenges on both legal and aesthetic grounds.

Along the Chicago River, there’s been an even more concentrated tumult.

True, work proceeded apace through an overly wintry winter on the next civic showpiece, the Chicago Riverwalk.

But, elsewhere along the river — whose evolution into the city’s second waterfront was trumpeted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel during a Monday night debate with challenger Jesus “Chuy” Carcia as a top idea for his second term — the remaining tatters of the Chicago Spire dream, which was to have culminated in the world’s tallest residential structure, were finally swept aside; the Kennedy family has been locked in battle over certain specifics of the high-profile Wolf Point development, according to Crain’s; and a massive, backlit T-R-U-M-P, slapped on the prime river-facing facade of Trump Tower, served as a unifying force in a divided city, with Emanuel calling the signage “architecturally tasteless,” and effectively no one disagreeing.

In the latter incident, the mayor and City Council, faced with widespread outcry about the Trump visual assault, drew a line in the sand. But the city’s new riverfront signage ordinance reluctantly was required to grandfather in the Trump sign. All 2,891 square feet of it.


The Margin: Changing of guard at Willis Tower highlights turbulent period for Chicago real estate

iLEVEL Releases Private Capital Data Platform 7.0


iLEVEL, the leading portfolio monitoring, analytics and transparency platform for the global private capital markets, announces today the release of iLEVEL 7.0.

This latest release to the iLEVEL cloud-based, SaaS platform includes significantly improved design and usability, along with dramatic functionality enhancements across all asset classes and firm types. Together, these improvements make iLEVEL 7.0 the premier solution for any private capital firm or investor wanting to control their data, and realize the results.

“We’ve been blown away by the positive reaction of our clients to iLEVEL 7.0. It represents a quantum leap forward in user experience, flexibility and functionality, and dramatically extends and enhances our ability to add value throughout the private capital ecosystem,” said Kevin Black, CEO of iLEVEL. “For investment firms and their limited partners – across all private asset classes – nothing else comes close.”

New and enhanced features include:

  • Portal and iPad app redesign. A new navigation and analytics system enables users to easily access portfolio-level, asset-level, and fund-level reports, as well as company- or industry-specific KPIs and analytics.
  • Enhanced data visualization. New display options for data presentations enable users to choose from document lists, Google Maps™, and waterfall charts. Presentations can be printed or saved as images and used to enrich reports.
  • Data validation tools. New business rules and exception reports minimize the risk of invalid data entering the system even further, and facilitate the data approval process (e.g., restatement notifications, etc.).
  • Integrated Document Library. Data cited within a specific report or presentation can now be tied directly to the source document in the iLEVEL Document Library or displayed directly on the portal.

“iLEVEL has continued to evolve the platform over the years, and the newly redesigned portal continues to push the envelope of what’s possible,” said Bill Murphy, Senior Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer at The Blackstone Group. “The latest enhancements will enable us to identify and report on trends with even greater visual flexibility and detail.”

The number of firms on iLEVEL has doubled in the past year and includes alternative investment firms of varying sizes that employ a wide range of investment strategies including Private Equity, Real Estate, Credit and Venture Capital. GP clients use iLEVEL to track over 11,500 assets while leading LPs track over 62,000 assets across more than 7,000 fund investments. In aggregate, iLEVEL users track over 1 billion data points across their investment portfolios.

About iLEVEL

iLEVEL is the leading portfolio monitoring, analytics and transparency platform for the global private capital markets. iLEVEL’s SaaS, cloud-based platform empowers fund managers and investors to harness their data and gain insights and transparency never before possible in private markets. Investors in iLEVEL include Blackstone (BX), The Carlyle Group (CG), Duff & Phelps, Hamilton Lane, Swift River Investments, and Egis Capital Partners. For more information, visit www.ilevelsolutions.com.


Lauren Weiner, +1-646-747-9817

Director of Marketing


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iLEVEL Releases Private Capital Data Platform 7.0

National park plans remain in infancy

February 16, 2015

After years of talk, planning and incremental phases of development, the historic Blackstone Valley appears headed toward national fame as a National Park, telling the story of the American Industrial Revolution and the immigration that helped fuel it.

But while President Barack Obama signed federal legislation creating the national heritage park, exactly what that higher designation will bring to the National Heritage Corridor, created by Congress in 1986, is still percolating and not ready to be poured into a final form.

“There is going to be a national park, but we don’t know yet what it will be. Its boundaries have yet to be established, and the National Park Service has to set up a management plan,” Charlene Cutler, executive director of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, said of the development work still pending for the new park.
The planning process of what the new park will offer and look like in the future is just getting started, Cutler noted, and there will be a series of meetings beginning in the near future to discuss those options.

“It is very important for everyone to stay involved and participate in the stakeholder meetings,” she said.

Full story appears on Page A1 of Tuesday’s Call and Tuesday’s Times.

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National park plans remain in infancy

Lampin Profit Grows 70 Percent in 2014

UXBRIDGE, Mass., Feb. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Lampin Corporation has released FY2014 figures projecting a 70 percent growth in net profit margins compared to FY2013, with total revenues increasing by 22 percent over the same period.

Lampin President Bill DiBenedetto is excited by the fact the company is becoming more productive and profitable despite significant shifts to small quantity runs and much more programming demand from the marketplace.

“I’m very happy with these numbers,” said DiBenedetto. “It’s a strong testament in support of our LEAN Manufacturing practices.”

The year also saw the company focus on setup reduction and reducing lead times through improved workshop organization. The majority of the company’s cost is in labor and as much as 45 percent of that expense was being spent in production setup. During the past year, Lampin employee-owners were able to reduce overall setup times by one-third, generating a significant cost savings.

“Lampin’s gross margins improved because the company spent time and resources to capture and reduce operational waste thus increasing capacity to ship more revenue,” said DiBenedetto. “This added capacity came at a time when our clients needed it.”

DiBenedetto predicts that the coming fiscal year will yield even better numbers for Lampin. The company plans to spend the upcoming year improving its response time to increasing customer demand by bringing state of the art equipment technology on line in the first and second quarters.

“It hasn’t been easy,” said DiBenedetto. “You can’t get caught up in growth. You have to standardize practices and find something that works. This makes our manufacturing operation more formidable and strengthens the ESOP trust fund.”

About Lampin Corporation

Lampin Corporation, an ITAR-compliant and ISO 9001:2008 Certified Company, delivers critical component manufacturing expertise that goes beyond precision. Located in the historic Blackstone River Valley, birthplace of the industrial revolution, Lampin is a 100% employee-owned company. Lampin’s value engineering approach ensures that design, materials and process combine to provide the best value in the industry. Lampin also manufactures MITRPAK, the right angle gearbox and spiral bevel gear drive preferred by OEM and MRO customers desiring reduced risk, lower inventory, and improved asset availability. Learn more about Lampin and MITRPAK and sign up for the e-newsletter at www.Lampin.com.

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/lampin-profit-grows-70-percent-in-2014-300033739.html

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Lampin Profit Grows 70 Percent in 2014

Arthur E. Maurice Jr.

Arthur E. Maurice Jr.

February 24, 2012

Arthur E. Maurice Jr.

BLACKSTONE- Arthur E. Maurice Jr. 89, of Blackstone, died Thursday at home surrounded by his loving family. He was the husband of the late Doris (Roberge) Maurice, and the late Rita (Marquis) Maurice.
Mr. Maurice was born in Woonsocket, a son of the late Arthur E. Maurice, and the late Anna ( Poulin) Maurice.
He was a Navy World War II veteran.
Mr. Maurice was a wool sorter at the former Branch River Woolen Mill, and a machinist at Taft-Pierce and Hill Machine for many years retiring in 1987.
He is survived by two daughters; Irene Farrell of Johnston, and Lucille Paquette of Johnston, a stepson, Roger Paquette of Blackstone, four grandchildren, seven great grandchildren, a brother Raymond Maurice of CA, and a sister Thelma Noury of FL. He was also the father of the late Joan Pouliot, and the brother of the late Anita Willhide.
His funeral will be held Tuesday at 9:00 AM from the Fournier & Fournier Funeral Home, 99 Cumberland St. Woonsocket with a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 AM in St Theresa’s Church Blackstone, MA. Burial will follow in St. Jean Baptiste Cemetery. Visiting hours will be Monday evening 4-7PM. Please visit
www.fournierandfournier.com for guestbook and directions.

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Arthur E. Maurice Jr.

Officials convene in Pawtucket to discuss R.I.’s first national historical park

PAWTUCKET — A month after President Obama signed legislation establishing Rhode Island’s first national historical park, officials held the first meeting on Monday to work out the boundaries of the park along the Blackstone River and develop a management plan.

The meeting was held in downtown Pawtucket, a stone’s throw from Old Slater Mill, which is regarded as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in America and will be a key piece of the Blackstone River National Historical Park. The park will also include the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket, as well as three more Rhode Island sites and three sites in Massachusetts.

Officials from both states, as well city and town leaders and representatives of community groups, were at the meeting to start laying the groundwork for the national park, the 402nd in the United States.

“We want to make sure everyone has a voice — the mayors, the planners for all the communities,” said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, the Rhode Island Democrat who wrote the act that created the new park.

He said the park will be an important cultural resource — and a tourist attraction.

“We can use the park to educate visitors about the history and culture of Rhode Island,” he said. “It’s another reason to come to Rhode Island.”

The park is located within the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, which runs from Worcester to Providence and was established in 1986. The idea for the park was hatched in 2003 as part of an effort to better protect the cultural sites along the river, said Bob Billington, director of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council.

“The history was always here, but we always wanted the opportunity to tell it on a national level,” he said.

Those many years of work on the proposal for the park have given stakeholders a head-start in the current effort to set it up, said U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.

“Our park will begin with this very deep and very rich history of relationships,” he said.

Meghan Kish, the National Park Service superintendent who will oversee the park, said the priorities in the planning process include delineating the park’s boundaries and formulating an overall identity for its separate pieces that include sites in Slatersville and Ashton in Rhode Island and Whitinsville and Hopedale in Massachusetts.

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Officials convene in Pawtucket to discuss R.I.’s first national historical park

Sen. Reed’s bill brings National Historical Park to state

The Blackstone River Valley — a national heritage corridor for 28 years — has been designated a national historical park after President Obama signed Sen. Jack Reed’s, D-R.I., bill proposing the change in December.

No specific sites have been designated for the park, but the committee has pointed to “nodes along that route” that they hope to include, such as Slater Mill, Hopedale and others, said Charlene Perkins Cutler, executive director of the Blackstone River Valley Committee.

The National Park Service “wants to use the existing infrastructure that the national heritage corridor has put together to capture visitors and tell them something about the valley,” Cutler said. This will likely include the Pawtucket Visitor Center across from Slater Mill in Pawtucket, the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket, River Bend Farm in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, and a new visitor center in Worcester, Massachusetts, that is under construction.

Though national heritage corridors are eligible for federal grants, they differ from national parks in that they are not federally owned or managed but rather are maintained by state and local governments. The legislation passed last month was the product of more than 10 years of hard work, Cutler said, adding that the committee “wanted to get parts of the national heritage corridor included as part of the National Park Service.” The new park will partner with the existing corridor to “tell the birth of American industrialization,” she added.

Reed first introduced a bill in 2005 authorizing the National Park Service to conduct a Special Resource Study to determine whether parts of the corridor were eligible to become part of the national park system, said Chip Unruh, Reed’s spokesperson.

The area became eligible for national historical park designation in 2008, and the process of achieving formal recognition was expedited when Reed became chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies in 2011.

There were several obstacles along the way, including a series of moratoriums on public land bills, Unruh said. In 2011, federal support for the corridor was set to end, but Reed was able to extend it for an additional year with a continuing resolution. He brought several U.S. Secretaries of the Interior to the Ocean State to see the corridor and to convince them that it should be a national park.

An agreement was finally reached in 2014 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, and Reed’s bill was passed into law.
Though the bill passed, Unruh and Cutler both said much work remains. It will be a long process that will “take some time and is going to require extreme patience,” Cutler said.

“Getting the bill signed into law is a significant milestone in the process, but there is still more work to do,” Unruh said.

The National Park Service is now responsible for devising a management plan over the next three years in order to determine “the scope of its boundaries with the input of the states, local communities and interested stakeholders,” Unruh added.

Public input in deciding the locales of the park was emphasized, Unruh said, adding that Reed “wants to continue to work collaboratively and ensure public input every step of the way as we get this park up and running.”

The corridor currently includes 24 towns — 13 in Massachusetts and 11 in Rhode Island — as well as a canal that runs from Worcester to Providence. This park will be nothing like Yellowstone or Yosemite with thousands of acres of open green space, Unruh said, adding “it’s not like we can take the entire corridor and turn it into the park.”

Current discussion of the park suggests that it will not be contiguous and will include multiple sites within Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Final site selection will be made by the Secretary of the Interior after soliciting public input. The management plan will have to state which publicly and privately owned land will become a part of the park, and the bill authorizes the Secretary to “establish agreements with the states or local governments, and to identify willing sellers of land and donators of land to include within the park boundary before and after the administrative park boundary is determined by the Secretary,” Unruh said.

Unruh estimates that over $20 million in federal appropriations will be necessary to get the park running, including $5 million for the National Park Service to acquire property interests, $6 million for the constructions of facilities and for the conduction of research and around $3 million for operating costs.

Reed hopes that the establishment of the park will enhance local tourism, create jobs and recreational activities and educate the public about Rhode Island’s rich industrial revolution history, Unruh said.

Though smaller in size than other national parks in the country, Cutler said she is confident it will draw crowds.


Sen. Reed’s bill brings National Historical Park to state

Historical park established in Blackstone Valley

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Blackstone River Valley is the newest national historical park.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed has been pushing a plan for a Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park for years. The president signed the Rhode Island Democrat’s legislation establishing the park Friday.

The park is along the Blackstone River and includes significant sites in old mill towns and buildings. The Old Slater Mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island is the first successful cotton-spinning factory in the United States. Sites in North Smithfield and Cumberland, Rhode Island, and Whitinsville and Hopedale, Massachusetts, are also included.

Reed says the Blackstone Valley is a national treasure that is getting the recognition it deserves.

The area is already home to a national heritage corridor that links communities along the Blackstone River from Worcester, Massachusetts, to Providence.

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Historical park established in Blackstone Valley

Obama signs bill for national park along the Blackstone River

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — President Obama signed legislation Friday establishing a national park at eight sites that dot the Blackstone River, according to an announcement by Sen. Jack Reed.

The Blackstone River Valley National Park will include the Old Slater Mill in Pawtucket, which is regarded as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, and the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket, in addition to three more Rhode Island sites and three sites in Massachusetts.

In a news release, Reed said the Blackstone Valley “is finally getting the recognition it deserves.”

“This new park will help preserve the character and historical significance of the area and tell visitors about an important chapter in American history,” he said.

The park is located within the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, which runs from Worcester to Providence and was established in 1986. The corridor along the 45-mile river is also getting renewed federal funding to the tune of $650,000 as part of the law championed by Reed and signed by the president.

Congress has not appropriated any money for the park itself. In fact, the government has yet to determine its specific boundaries. That will be done “with the input of the states, local communities, and interested stakeholders,” Reed’s news release said.

“This designation will help preserve key historical, cultural, and environmental resources for future generations,” the senator said. “It will help educate people about our past and contribute to our economic future by supporting tourism and recreational opportunities.”

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Obama signs bill for national park along the Blackstone River

Slater Mill reacts to -recent park designation – News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England


The leadership of the Old Slater Mill Association reacted to the news that Congress had passed the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park Establishment Act, creating a new National Park with Slater Mill as its cornerstone.

“Each moment in the history of Slater Mill has been a step toward this milestone,” said Lori Urso, Executive Director of the Old Slater Mill Association.

Introduced by U.S. Senator Jack Reed, Old Slater Mill is the first of seven features specified in the act for inclusion.

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Slater Mill reacts to -recent park designation – News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England