The Case for Turning McDonald’s Former HQ Into Senior Housing

It’s not too uncommon to repurpose older buildings into senior living communities, but it’s pretty uncommon for senior living developers to be considering the same potential sites as Amazon.com, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN).

Still, that may be what’s currently happening in Chicago.

Chicago is one of the 20 U.S. cities currently vying to become the home of Amazon’s second-ever headquarters, or “HQ2.” Among the 10 sites the city has submitted for Amazon’s consideration are the former global headquarters of McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) in the suburb of Oak Brook, Illinois, and the former Motorola Solutions (NYSE: MSI) worldwide headquarters in nearby Schaumburg.

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It remains to be seen exactly where Amazon will build its HQ2, or if these two sites are even on the retail giant’s radar. But there are a few potential back-up plans for both of these locations, should Chicago’s pleas to Amazon fall on deaf ears.

And both of the potential back-up plans, interestingly, may involve senior housing.

Golden years for the Golden Arches

McDonald’s Oak Brook campus is ideal for residential housing of some sort, including senior housing, according to the architect who originally designed the property.

The fast food giant is set to move its corporate headquarters to Chicago by this spring, which means leaving the three separate buildings that currently sit on the 74-acre Oak Brook campus—an office building, a Hamburger University training center, and a Hyatt Lodge.

Dirk Lohan, the grandson of famed German-American architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe and a principal at Illinois-based architecture and planning firm Wight & Co., believes that one of the buildings in particular is a great candidate to be repurposed into senior housing.

“I was envisioning converting the office building—which could be easily done—into senior residential living,” Lohan tells Senior Housing News. “It would be spectacular.”

The office building comprises 330,000 square feet, according to the Chicago Tribune. Its unique design, according to Lohan, means it can be converted into a residential building relatively easily.

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“The office building, when you look at it, it’s not just an office box. It’s a building that is very carefully set into a landscape and into the contours of the earth,” Lohan explains. “It’s a rich environment that lends itself to living there, and not just working there.”

Most likely, if the office building were to be turned into senior housing, the resulting community would be targeted toward upper-class seniors.

“This would be a custom-tailored, probably upscale senior residential living design,” Lohan says. “It’s a very generous setting, it’s a spacious building.”

The idea to turn the office building into senior housing has caught on among some people, according to Lohan.

“I have had some contacts about that sort of thing already,” he says.

From Motorola to senior living

It’s looking even more likely that senior housing will be built on the site of the former Motorola headquarters, according to local news reports.

In fact, a senior housing project to be built on the site is “progressing,” Bob Burk, managing partner of developer UrbanStreet Group LLC, tells the Daily Herald.

UrbanStreet Group owns 225 acres of the 322-acre Schaumburg campus.

A senior housing community is one of several projects—including medical offices, row homes, apartments, and a Top Golf entertainment building—that are being planned for the former Motorola site, though none would prevent Amazon from selecting the campus for its HQ2, according to Burk.

UrbanStreet Group had not responded to SHN’s request for comment as of press time.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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