Wight & Company to Design & Deliver “The Hatchery”

Innovative Food Incubator Project Breaks Ground in East Garfield Park


Architects and construction professionals from Chicago-based Wight & Company (Wight) joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and their project partners today to officially break ground on a new food incubator development in Chicago’s East Garfield Park neighborhood. The Hatchery, designed by Wight & Company, will serve entrepreneurs in the food and beverage industry seeking commercial kitchen workspace, coaching, and other services to develop their businesses and produce their products. The 67,000-square-foot space will include 56 private kitchens, a large shared kitchen, co-working and multi-function space, bulk storage and a loading dock.  

The innovative incubator project is the brainchild of Accion Chicago and the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago (ICNC), two non-profit organizations that work to encourage investment and economic development in Chicago neighborhoods. A key component of the project will be creating new offices for Accion Chicago. From its new headquarters, Accion Chicago will offer direct access to small business loans and support programs to tenants of The Hatchery and to members of the local community. 

IFF Chicago is serving as the development partner for the $34 million venture. Sponsors, including Kellogg and Conagra, are providing additional funding. The City of Chicago played an instrumental role by selling the project site to the developers for $1. 

Wight & Company will serve as design architect, architect of record, structural engineer and construction manager for The Hatchery project. Other project partners include dbHMS for MEP engineering, site design group, ltd. for landscape architecture, Terra Engineering for civil engineering and Next Step Design as food services specialists. 

Located near the intersection of Lake Street and Kedzie Avenue on Chicago’s west side, The Hatchery site is approximately 3.5 acres. Wight’s team will repurpose one existing building that dates to the 1920s and add a modern structure of approximately 57,000 square feet. “Adaptability in design is critical for The Hatchery to accommodate flexible programming and future growth,” explained Matt Zolecki, project executive for Wight. “We are creating a space not just for food production, but for mentoring, coaching, presentation and collaboration.” 

The kitchen spaces are designed to be scalable, accommodating the entrepreneurs who may be looking for only table space as well as those seeking large volume catering production within the 3,000-square-foot space. Private kitchen spaces range from 250 to 400 square feet and are designed in quadrants featuring utility cores that will allow spaces to evolve with tenant needs. According to Zolecki, the building is slated for delivery by the end of 2018. “The team at Wight is using an integrated approach to design, engineering and construction for The Hatchery. This is what we call our ‘Design & Delivery’ model. This integrated approach allows us to explore design options quickly, side by side with engineers, estimators, construction experts and our clients. This collaborative environment brings a more informed evolution to the iterative design process, providing the best possible solution for our clients.”

Other members of Wight’s design team include Kevin Havens as lead designer; Steve Dillon, senior project designer; and Ryan Cusick, project architect. Wight’s construction management team will be led by Jim Nagle, vice president, and Dan Bartkowiak, project manager. “Today, this site is underutilized,” said Zolecki, “but by this time next year, it will be a bustling hub of activity filled with entrepreneurs cooking up the next big thing in the food business and engaging the local community in the process. We’re so proud to be a part of this exciting new venture.”