Low-key Irish development group abandons Chicago deal

Emerald Living walks away from plan to build an estimated 20,000 lakefront homes

Emerald Living said it had decided not to go ahead with the proposed deal in Chicago because of “findings of our [due] diligence works”. Photograph: iStock

Emerald Living said it had decided not to go ahead with the proposed deal in Chicago because of “findings of our [due] diligence works”. Photograph: iStock

 

An Irish-owned development group has walked away from a proposed deal to build an estimated 20,000 lakefront homes in Chicago.

Emerald Living, which is owned by Dublin-headquartered Welink Group, said it had decided not to go ahead with a proposal to build on the 440-acre US Steel site because of “findings of our [due] diligence works”.

Local media in the US reported that its concerns were environmental in nature, related to the site’s industrial past. Welink’s spokesman had not returned a call from The Irish Times seeking further comment prior to publication.

Welink and Emerald Living are run by Wicklow-based former DCC Healthcare executive Barry O’Neill. He founded the group, which specialises in building modular homes and also invests in energy projects, in 2007.

It mostly operates abroad, and teamed up with Spanish group Barcelona Housing Systems for the Chicago project.

The proposed scheme was on a lakefront industrial site known as South Works, for which US Steel has been seeking a development partner for more than a decade.

Mr O’Neill’s company announced a year ago it had entered into a development agreement with US Steel and the city of Chicago, whose mayor is former Barack Obama aide Rahm Emanuel.

That proposed agreement, however, was subject to an environmental review and due diligence, for which the completion deadline expired this week.