The John Buck Company
The John Buck Company continues to bring high-quality residential, office and retail developments to Chicago and beyond.
By Jim Harris, Senior Editor, Knighthouse Media
Since 1981, The John Buck Company has been known in its home base of Chicago for developing and managing high-end luxury apartments and Class A office properties. “We’re pretty proud of our reputation,” COO Dirk Degenaars says. “I think the market understands who we are, the quality product we’re building and our approach to management.”
The company’s reputation among residents, tenants, investors, property owners and others is largely based on the quality of its finished projects. “Our projects have a sophistication, higher-end feel and higher quality than much of what’s getting built,” he adds. “We are not a merchant builder who goes into a market, builds a stick-frame building and then gets out.”
Everyone in the company plays a role in maintaining its dedication to quality, starting with its namesake, founder and chairman John Buck to its managers and security staff. Many of the company’s team members have worked there for 10 years or more. “We have a high-touch operation, and I think that permeates in the marketplace,” Degenaars says.
Since its inception, the company has been involved in more than $6.7 billion’s worth of projects and acquired, developed or redeveloped more 42 million square feet of properties. The John Buck Company works with several of the nation’s largest contractors on its projects, including Clark Construction, Lendlease and Power Construction.
The John Buck Company specializes in transit-oriented urban infill residential, office and mixed-use projects. “It’s been our experience that those are the sites that tend to be the most attractive to employers and employees,” Degenaars says. “For us, it’s all about jobs and where people want to live and work.”
All of the company’s projects feature the finest finishes and amenities available. Building amenities include shared workspaces, fitness centers and rentable conference rooms. One of the company’s recently completed projects, 3Eleven – a 25-story apartment building with retail space at 311 W. Illinois St. in Chicago – includes bike storage, small package storage and a rooftop tenant lounge that includes hammocks, grills, a swimming pool and dining areas.
“We endeavor to really understand the individual submarkets we operate in and raise the bar,” he adds. “Many of the people who rent in our residential buildings work in their home, while others are commuters. We’ve created amenities in our buildings that allow people to function 24/7.”
Making a S’Park
Although The John Buck Company is most well known for its work in Chicago, it is also active in other parts of the country. The company has completed work in New York City and Philadelphia, and also has active projects in San Francisco.
Last year, the company entered the Boulder, Colo., market with S’Park, a six-building, 345,000-square-foot mixed-use development. The John Buck Company is partnering with Element Properties, a Boulder-area real estate developer, on the project.
The $150 million development will include 302 market-rate rental apartments, 38 affordable rental apartments, 38,000 square feet of office space and 47,000 square feet of retail space.
Construction is underway on two of the buildings – a multifamily building with retail and underground parking and an office building that will include retail space on its ground floor. The office building is anticipated for completion in late 2018, and the residential building is expected to open in 2019.
The John Buck Company is finalizing pricing on two additional buildings: a residential building and an office building that will likely break ground later this year. The affordable housing component of the project – a private-public partnership in conjunction with Boulder Housing Partners – will likely break ground later in 2018. The sixth and final building of the project will break ground next year, Degenaars says.
The company is acting as both development and construction manager on the project. The general contractor is W.E. O’Neil Construction.
S’Park is located on a seven-acre former lumberyard location near a new 300,000-square-foot Google campus that made it a highly attractive development opportunity for The John Buck Company The project is also located near other major office parks and employment centers.
“The Boulder market fits the mold of many of the markets we’re in – there’s good job growth including in the technology sector, excellent infrastructure and it’s attracting millennials,” Degenaars says.
John Buck Co.’s other upcoming major projects include a 586-unit apartment complex with 11,000 square feet of ground floor retail space at 845 W. Madison St. in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood.
The company continues to pursue new opportunities in Chicago and elsewhere. “We’re being nimble, recognizing where our markets are going and developing different asset classes and project types,” Principal of Residential Management Rosemary Dwyer says.
Luxury residential projects in particular will be a focus for the The John Buck Company in the next few years. “There are so many opportunities for us in high-end residential properties,” she says. “We will be going wherever we will see the best returns.”