The Cook County PACE Program, administered by The Illinois Energy Conservation Authority NFP (“IECA”), an Illinois tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, announced today it closed $2,470,000 in financing for the first Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (“C-PACE”) project in Calumet City, Illinois.
The C-PACE capital will help fund the conversion of a 135,000-square-foot former Target retail store into Wilder Fields, a commercial-scale indoor vertical farm that will focus exclusively on the growth and sale of pesticide-free leafy greens.
Located at 1717 East-West Road in Calumet City, the first phase of the conversion project will comprise 80,000 square feet of office space, a climate-controlled area and a cold chain processing/growing area, with a completion date scoped for March 2022. At full capacity, the AI-driven operation will include 22 cleanrooms for the annual growth and harvesting of up to 25 million plants. C-PACE funds will finance several energy-efficient measures at Wilder Fields, including LED grow lighting, HVAC and climate controls. These measures are estimated to save Wilder Fields over $8.3 million and 59,371,067 kWh of energy during the expected life of the measures financed.
“I’m thrilled that Wilder Fields has utilized this program to transform a vacant big box store into a sustainable vertical farm serving the local community, grocers, and restaurateurs with high quality produce,” stated Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “This program is not only cost-efficient; it is also exemplary of the opportunities and assets embedded in the South Suburbs. I encourage more property owners throughout Cook County to take advantage of the C-PACE Program to adapt more sustainable operations and practices.”
Launched in 2016, Wilder Fields has operated a 2,000-square-foot pilot farm at The Plant, a successful Chicago food-business incubator. The Calumet City location is the company’s first full-scale facility, and also one of the nation’s largest indoor vertical farms.
“Cook County passed a C-PACE ordinance in early 2021 and has been active in bringing the program’s benefits to the County’s commercial real estate owners,” said Mark Pikus, president of IECA. “We are excited to be part of this first transaction in Calumet City and continue our relationship with Cook County to further promote the installation of energy efficient and clean energy technologies.”
Greenworks Lending from Nuveen, one of the nation’s leading C-PACE capital provider, was selected to supply the capital.