Darien, CT (December 15, 2021) – Nuveen Green Capital, the nation’s leading C-PACE capital provider dedicated to funding energy performance-enhancing commercial, multi-family and non-profit real estate projects, announced today that it has closed its first C-PACE project in Calumet City, IL at Wilder Fields, located at 1717 East-West Rd.
Nuveen Green Capital financed C-PACE capital towards the first phase of the project – the conversion of a 135,000 square foot former Target retail store into a hydroponic vertical farm facility focusing exclusively on the growth and sale of pesticide-free leafy greens. This was made possible through the Cook County PACE Program, administered by The Illinois Energy Conservation Authority NFP (“IECA”), an Illinois tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. “We are very excited about this project and the new opportunities it will bring to Calumet City and the indoor agriculture industry. We encourage local businesses to take advantage of clean energy improvements because they benefit the environment and individual businesses, strengthening the local economy,” said Mark Pikus, president of the IECA.
The Phase I build-out, which C-PACE will partially finance, will comprise 80,000 square feet of office space, a climate-controlled area, and a cold chain processing/grow room area. At full capacity, Wilder fields will have 22 cleanrooms. Construction for Phase I is underway with a completion date scoped for February 2022. Since launching in 2016, Wilder Fields has operated a 2,000 square foot pilot farm at a successful food business incubator called Plant Chicago. Its Calumet City location is the company’s first full-scale facility, serving the local community as well as grocers and select restaurateurs with high quality produce.
C-PACE provides property owners and developers access to low-cost, long-term, fixed-rate financing for energy efficiency, water conservation, and renewable energy projects. C-PACE is being utilized to finance several energy efficient measures including LED grow lighting, HVAC, and climate controls. These measures are estimated to save Wilder Fields over $8.3M and 59,371,067 kWh of energy during the expected life of the measures financed.
“From the beginning, Wilder Fields sought ways to make indoor vertical farming profitable by tackling the high costs of energy and labor that have challenged so many in our industry,” said Jake Counne, founder and CEO of Wilder Fields. The C-PACE program has helped us do that. We’re very grateful for the chance to participate in this program, and to Nuveen Green Capital for supporting this initiative.”
“We are thrilled to have provided financing for Calumet City’s first C-PACE project and the first C-PACE project on an indoor farm in IL. The C-PACE program is really taking off in IL as property owners and developers realize the significant benefits it can provide to local communities, the environment and to their bottom line,” said Julie Sommese, Nuveen Green Capital’s Upper Midwest Director of Originations.
About Nuveen Green Capital
Nuveen Green Capital is the largest provider of Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing in the country. Led by several of the industry’s founding policy developers and standard-setters, Nuveen Green Capital is a private capital provider uniquely dedicated to funding commercial real estate through C-PACE. Nuveen Green Capital has provided financing to hundreds of commercial properties and is active in more than 25 states, making clean energy a smart financial decision for commercial property owners and developers nationwide. For more information, visit nuveen.com/greencapital.
About Wilder Fields
Wilder Fields is building one of the nation’s largest indoor vertical farms, and the first designed to operate on commercial scale, in the city of Calumet City outside Chicago. Using proprietary technology in A.I. and machine learning, and applying lean manufacturing principles gleaned from other industries, Wilder Fields is producing flavorful, long-lasting leafy greens in more than a dozen varieties. Focusing distribution within 100 miles of Calumet City, the company works to greatly reduce the carbon footprint left by trucking vegetables from either coast to the Midwest. The company’s conversion of an abandoned big-box retail store exemplifies founder Jake Counne’s goal of repurposing vacant buildings to help improve the communities in which they stand.