CHICAGO — The Illinois Finance Authority advanced more than $345 million in new-money and refunding issues for health care, higher education and cultural institutions as well as the second phase of financing for an intermodal rail-transfer facility under a federal program.
The CenterPoint Joliet Terminal Railroad LLC won final approval for its sale of up to $80 million of surface freight facilities tax-exempt revenue bonds. The issue has an allocation under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s freight transfer facility revenue bond program established in 2005 in the SAFETEA-LU Act that allows an initial $15 billion in private-activity bonds for qualified projects.
The transaction is a followup to the authority’s sale on CenterPoint’s behalf of $150 million of tax-exempt bonds in 2010 under the same federal program for the project southwest of Chicago in Joliet. The company has approval for the sale of up to $1.34 billion of debt under the program.
The program seeks to promote private investment in highway, bridge and intermodal freight-transfer facility projects of regional or national importance with tax-exempt PABs. No state PAB volume cap is needed. Projects also must receive Title 23 Highway Funds or Title 49 railroad grant funds from the DOT.
The project is “one of the largest infrastructure and job-creation projects underway in our state,” the authority’s executive director, Christopher Meister, said in his board report. “This is a multi-year project that is projected to create thousands of permanent as well as union construction jobs in Will County.”
Proceeds will finance the acquisition of land, and construction and equipping of various capital improvements at the rail-to-truck and truck-to-rail intermodal facility serving the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad.
The bonds will be privately placed this year by SunTrust Robinson Humphrey with a final maturity of up to 40 years and preliminary estimates of interest rates in the 2% to 5% range.
The overall project includes the construction of rail improvements, and an estimated 15 million to 20 million square feet of related warehousing and distribution facilities and related infrastructure on a 4,000-acre site. The company has five years to spend bond proceeds but is opting to tap the authorization in tranches every one to two years.
CenterPoint built the initial terminal that opened two year ago for owner Union Pacific. It serves as an anchor the larger CenterPoint freight transportation district being built-out by the company, which is developing the surrounding land into an integrated freight-transfer logistics park. “We have some additional costs and the infrastructure is supported by bonds,” said Dan Hemmer, general counsel for CenterPoint Properties Trust.
CenterPoint operates other intermodal projects in the region and across the country and others locally have also won federal support aimed at breaking the logjam that occurs in Chicago as about 60% of all inland freight traffic from the coasts passes through or stops in the area. While it only takes about two days to move from coast to coast, it can take four days for rail traffic to clear the area.
“Development of intermodal facilities around the outer suburbs of Chicago will help reduce rail bottlenecks, reduce truck traffic in the city of Chicago as well as create a more efficient supply chain for goods traveling inland from the coasts,” IFA documents say.
Ridge Property Trust is developing a $590 million intermodal facility near Wilmington. CenterPoint has a $505 million project in Crete, and the Seneca I-80 Railport Development LLC has a $576 million project in Seneca.
The board also gave preliminary approval to Hawthorne Chicago LLC’s sale of up to $9.5 million of airport facilities revenue bonds to finance the acquisition of a leasehold and related rights to an eight-acre site located at Chicago Executive Airport in the Chicago suburb of Wheeling.
Proceeds will also finance construction of a 10,000-square-foot terminal, office building and a hangar. The borrower would use the facility, which would be owned by the airport, as a base of operations for a private and corporate jet business. The unrated bonds will be sold through a limited public offering underwritten by Robert W. Baird & Co. and secured by a leasehold mortgage. Greenberg Traurig LLP is bond counsel.
The airport is about 18 miles northwest of Chicago and with three runways annually serves 167,000 takeoffs and landings for aircraft in the 20-seat range , making it the third busiest airport in Illinois.
The Art Institute of Chicago received final approval to sell up to $70 million of bonds to refund debt sold in 1998 and 2000 for significant interest-rate savings. The fixed-rate bonds would sell this fall with the debt secured by a general pledge of the institute, which does not include any real assets or interest in its collection.
The museum was established in 1879. Its collection “encompasses more than 5,000 years of human expression from cultures around the world, and the school’s graduate and undergraduate programs are continually ranked among the best in the country,” IFA documents read. Its permanent collection includes more than 300,000 works of works of art, including paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs, decorative arts and textiles, and it sees more than 1.4 million visitors annually.
The museum carries ratings of A1 from Moody’s Investors Service and A-plus from Standard & Poor’s. Morgan Stanley is senior manager with Loop Capital Markets LLC and William Blair & Co. serving as co-seniors. Prager & Co. is adviser and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP is bond counsel.
The Lutheran Home and Services Obligated Group received final approval to issue up to $120 million of refunding and new-money bonds for renovations and an expansion to its senior living community known as the Olson Pavilion in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights. The fixed-rate bonds will not be rated. B.C. Ziegler & Co. is underwriter and Jones Day is bond counsel.