YMCA wants ideas for La Grange corner
By David Roeder and Fran Spielman Staff Reporters July 16, 2013 8:50PM
Updated: August 19, 2013 2:12PM
The YMCA of Metro Chicago has a corner of downtown La Grange it wants to sell. In the process, it hopes to deepen its connection to the western suburbs.
The Y is selling without pulling out. It has invited developers to submit proposals for the property, some 4.3 acres at the northeast corner of Ogden and La Grange. It hopes the buyer will work a new Y into whatever else will be built there.
The issue is important because the vacant property was the location of the Rich Port YMCA, a massive old-style operation for the fitness and social services organization. It included pools, gyms and single-room-occupancy housing, but became too run-down to maintain. Once one of the most prominent buildings in La Grange, the five-story Y was closed in 2007 and demolished in 2010, after the recession killed a prior redevelopment plan.
Programs moved to a much smaller facility in La Grange Park, with swimming classes and other functions spread among local schools and park districts.
Richard Malone, president of the metro Y, said he hopes a developer can work an expanded Y into the property. “With the real estate market improving, we felt it was the right time to issue a call for some creative solutions,” he said.
The Y hired real-estate firm Colliers International to issue a “request for proposals,” which means responses will be judged on more than just price. Malone said they are due Aug. 20 and he’s aiming to pick a winner around the end of September.
Charles Joern, a longtime member of a local advisory board for the Y, said the property would be suited for a variety of uses, including residential, retail and health care. He said he’d like a full-service Y at the location but, as to what surrounds it, “The market will speak to that.”
One alternative that’s probably off the table is cheap or short-term housing, he said, even though that was part of Rich Port’s history.
The Y has been exiting the housing business. Its largest operation of that kind is its old Lawson House high-rise at 30 W. Chicago. The Y has a long-term agreement to sell it to Holsten Real Estate Development Corp., which would continue operating Lawson House as low-income housing.
Malone said he hopes the property transfer will be complete by the end of the year.
SPECIAL DELIVERY: The Chicago Plan Commission on Thursday will take up the revised plans for the old Chicago Main Post Office that crosses Congress Parkway. As Sun-Times readers first learned in April, the new plans are sharply downsized and more pragmatic compared with what the developer wanted a couple years ago. But the scale is still huge.
British investor Bill Davies is proposing renovating the building mostly for residential and parking uses, while adding a 1,000-foot-tall tower next to it. Two more high-rises could come in later phases, including one building in the 2,000-foot “supertall” category. Still, it all depends on acceptance and financing.
The plan commission will consider the project the same day it reviews the proposal for Wrigley Field signage.
ICON FOR SALE: The landmark New Regal Theatre, most recently a concert hall, is for sale. Its owner, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., is asking $99,000 and said through a spokesman that it is evaluating several offers. The building at 1645 E. 79th St., noted for its Moorish-influenced architecture, is said to be in good shape inside but needs façade work that could run into a couple million dollars.
U.S. Equities Realty is marketing the property for the FDIC, which acquired it when it closed the bank that had the mortgage.
MARKET WATCH: Leasing activity in the suburbs, where office demand has been weak for years, has picked up in recent quarters. But NAI Hiffman found in the second quarter that the suburbs had a mild setback because of large blocks of empty space hitting the market.
Craig Hurvitz, director of statistics and market information at NAI Hiffman, said the biggest new vacancy was in Lincolnshire, where Acco Brands Corp. left behind 175,000 square feet in a move to Long Grove. Contraction by Verizon and Waste Management opened space in the O’Hare market and Downers Grove, he said.
NAI Hiffman found that the second quarter vacancy rate was unchanged from the first quarter at 20.3 percent. Downtown, vacancies slipped to 13 percent from the prior quarter’s 13.3 percent.
Industrial could be the hottest segment. NAI Hiffman said the marketwide vacancy is less than 9 percent for the first time in more than five years.
DOING THE DEALS: Mount Prospect Plaza, at the northeast corner of Rand and Central in Mount Prospect, sold for $36.1 million to Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust. Mid-America Real Estate Corp. represented the seller, a J.P. Morgan investment fund. … Chicago-based Harrison Real Estate Capital LLCV raised $750 million for its fourth opportunistic fund, which has invested in student housing, assisted living and medical buildings.
David Roeder reports on real estate at 6:22 p.m. Thursdays on WBBM-AM (780) and WBBM-FM (105.9). The reports are repeated at 10:22 p.m. Thursday and 7:22 a.m. Sunday.