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Developer of new McDonald's headquarters gets OK to build bigger

The developer behind McDonald's new $250 million headquarters on Chicago's Near West Side has received final approval to build a bigger building on the site of Oprah Winfrey's former Harpo Studios.

The proposal to increase the site's allotted density won unanimous approval from the Chicago Planning Commission in July but also required final approval by the City Council, which passed the measure with no objections Wednesday.

The new headquarters complex at Randolph and Carpenter streets is expected to be complete by spring 2018. It will be a massive two-building, 608,000-square-foot structure that will stretch nine stories tall.

McDonald's officially announced in June that it would leave its decades-old, custom-built headquarters in Oak Brook in favor of a rapidly gentrifying area of Chicago known for its trendy restaurants like Girl and the Goat and Au Cheval. The world's largest burger chain wants to be closer to the young, digital-savvy city dwellers it seeks as both employees and customers. McDonald's joins a roster of big companies that have moved, or plan to move, from the suburbs to the city, including Motorola Solutions, Kraft Heinz, Gogo, Hillshire Brands, Beam Suntory and ConAgra.

Developer Sterling Bay first submitted plans for the new headquarters to the City Council in June.

In return for the approved expansion plan, Sterling Bay said it will pay more than $4 million to the city's Neighborhoods Opportunity Fund, Adopt-A-Landmark Fund and Local Impact Fund, which direct money from downtown development projects to Chicago's depressed neighborhoods.

sbomkamp@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @SamWillTravel

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