With his resourcefulness and a strong relationship to the development community, particularly McCaffery Interests, David Burden was able to create a unique opportunity to redevelop a park site that would have otherwise been underfunded and sat unimproved for years to come. Today the site holds the British School of Chicago along with a beautiful garden park and an athletic field that the school makes available to the public. It is safe to say that finding and developing this rare infill site has bolstered the private school’s presence and its competitive advantage by a natural barrier of entry—scarcity of land—for another such project to happen in the foreseeable future.
This three-year engagement involved hard work and persistence. David and his team were able to find an off-market development site in the shadows of Chicago’s office towers to construct the British School of Chicago. Looking back, finding the site was the easy part. Originally pegged to be a public park connected to a retail mall, movie theater and residential housing, the 2-acre project site was an unimproved pile of rocks and dirt.
Despite being zoned for park district use, the City of Chicago did not have the resources budgeted to improve the site into a park. It took nearly two years to win approval from the community, alderman and City. On top of the zoning approval, there was additional complexity of securing financing as the school preferred to lease its facilities on a long-term basis. Through David’s introduction, EPR provided a unique ‘loan to own’ scenario in which the lender for the construction became the landlord.David enlisted a large team to complete this project on time and on budget including the extended team of Colliers International, McCaffery Interests, Antunovich Associates, W.E. O’Neil and Nord Anglia Education, the City of Chicago, Alderman Dan Solis and the Chicago Mayor.