Winning turnkey federal government projects comes down to the lease rate, and Chicago developer William Schorsch has extensive experience putting the right project team together in this highly specialized market. Schorsch is the senior principal of WD Schorsch LLC, and his company added two more projects to its list in 2012: a medical office building in Rockford, Illinois, for the Veteran’s Administration and an administration building for the General Services Administration on Ninety-Seventh Street in Chicago. “Both projects were competitively procured in a very lengthy process that starts with a government advertisement,” Schorsch says. “We go for the projects that best fit our capabilities and meet our criteria for size, location, length of lease, agency, and finding the right people to partner with.”

In June 2012, the Veteran’s Administration procured the building that would become the medical office. The lease structure was 20 years for the VA building, and the Social Security Administration project completed in late fall 2012 had a 10-year lease with an option for five more. The price for the building is the lease rate for the term, which can’t be modified after being awarded. “Project schedule is key in these deals,” says Schorsch. “It can make or break the project.” It’s a high risk to hold lending rates and cover construction costs in case the schedule gets extended.

As the developer, Schorsch is responsible for finding the land, design, construction, financing, operations, and maintenance for the term of the lease. Both the Rockford project and the Ninety-Seventh Street project are aimed for LEED Silver certification. For both projects, Schorsch teamed up with Chicago design-build contractor McShane Construction Company who provided the developer with a guaranteed maximum price.

The Rockford project, designed by Colorado architecture firm Marasco & Associates, is a 33,000-square-foot, single-story outpatient medical office with 29 exam rooms. “The new building includes 70 percent native plant coverage for landscaping, bicycle racks for alternate commuting, and a geothermal system with 16 wells drilled 580 feet deep,” says McShane project manager Min Jang. “We are 37 percent more efficient than a conventional mechanical system.” The project also features low-VOC paints and sealants, recycled content materials, and regional materials, such as a precast building envelope by ATMI Precast of Aurora, Illinois.

The 18,000-square-foot Social Security project was completed in fall 2012; it is a single-story, commercial building designed by Milwaukee architecture firm Perspective Design. The project features a local cast-stone on the wainscot of the building by local manufacturer Architectural Cast Stone.

Schorsch took advantage of metered faucets and used the values to monitor water consumption of low-volume fixtures, and energy-efficient water heaters were also used. The site had native plantings and drip irrigation and was built on an existing brownfield industrial property. “Contaminants were hauled off and properly disposed of,” says McShane project manager Gary Vandenberg. “The building slab and asphalt surfaces acted as physical containment barriers. But in the green areas, we provided a fabric material plus 12 inches of clean topsoil.”