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O’Hare center gets Chicago city council approval

The lease agreement for a $2 million perishables center at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago was approved by the city council there in a unanimous voice vote on June 26, two days after approval by the council’s committee on aviation. The ordinance calls for city officials to execute the lease within 30 days, according to Karen E. Pride, director of media relations for the Chicago Department of Aviation.

Rosemarie Andolino, commissioner of Chicago Department of Aviation, told the council committee O’Hare is a global gateway that gives Chicago direct access to markets across the world. “This center at O’Hare represents a tremendous opportunity for new commerce, economic activity and jobs to the Chicago region,” she said in Daily Whale, a newsletter covering government and business in the Chicago area.

The center, a first for O’Hare, will take delivery of and process time-sensitive perishables such as flowers, food and medicine. It is expected to grow into an international exchange for perishables.

The airport authority has spent about $650,000 to bring the vacant 27,000-square-foot facility at the airport up code, and the lease group has committed to paying for the build-out to accommodate work stations for Customs & Border Protection and U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors and to install coolers and a distribution center.

Chicago Perishable Center Inc. won the right to negotiate the seven-year lease, which allows three one-year extensions. Partners in the firm are Adela Cepeda of A.C. Advisory Inc.; Shlomo Danieli of Blooming of Beloit, a grower- importer; Samuel Wm. Sax, chairman of Financial Relations Inc.; and Jim Richards, president and owner of Floral Express. The lease calls for tenants to pay $3 a square foot plus a common area maintenance charge, Pride said.

Under the agreement, CPC has nine months to build out the facility, install equipment and commence operations, according to Pride. Danieli said the center could start operating by Oct. 31 if permits are given in a timely fashion. Primary cargo for the first few years is expected to be flowers, an estimated 140,000 boxes a year worth about $10 million. Initially the center will employ 25 workers. Plans call for a 60 percent increase in cargo volume in five years.