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California firm to buy family-owned Kenny Construction: source

JAMES C. KENNY OF KENNY CONSTRUCTION COMPANY.

JAMES C. KENNY OF KENNY CONSTRUCTION COMPANY.

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Updated: January 20, 2013 6:27AM



During the 1992 “Loop flood,” the skills of Kenny Construction Co. became obvious. Then-Mayor Richard M. Daley called on Kenny to solve a freakish problem — river water gushing through a breach in old freight tunnels, in turn flooding downtown buildings. With John Kenny Jr., the current company president, leading the response, the breach was repaired, and Daley privately said that the company saved his political career.

John Kenny came to be called the “flood stud” for his constant TV appearances. It was a time of public glory for a firm that helped build Deep Tunnel, the subway system and the city’s airports and sewers. It also builds high-rises and bridges.

But not all has been well at the Northbrook-based company, now in the fourth generation of family ownership. Families can make demands, and a lawsuit a couple years ago exposed divisions over how the company was run and its ventures into real estate.

A source said the Kenny firm will be sold, perhaps by yearend, to Granite Construction Co., based in Watsonville, Calif., about an hour south of San Jose. Granite is a publicly traded firm with large jobs on the East and West coasts and annual revenue of about $2 billion.

With its Midwest emphasis, Kenny will “fill the doughnut hole” in Granite’s operations, the source said. Kenny’s annual revenue has been reported to be more than $600 million. The source added that while there is little overlap in the companies’ operations, no management role for the Kenny family is planned.

James Kenny, a company director and former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Granite, citing a policy against discussing “rumors and speculation.”

SILVER SCREEN SUBSIDY: City Hall has proposed a $1 million tax-increment financing subsidy for owners of the Logan Theatre, 2650 N. Milwaukee, to help with the $5.6 million renovation of its auditorium and adjacent storefronts. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the subsidy will help preserve the theater as a cultural venue and community anchor.

Because of the deal, four of the building’s 18 apartments will be reserved for lower-income residents. The Logan dates from 1915. M. Fishman & Co. owns the theater.

WHY’S THE Y ON HOLD? It has been more than a year since the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago settled on a respected developer of mixed-income housing, Peter Holsten, president of Holsten Real Estate Development Corp., as the likely buyer for its Lawson House at 30 W. Chicago. Lawson House is an important part of the city’s network of transitory housing.

Nothing has been announced, however. Holsten, reached last week, said he’s dealing with a long due diligence on the 22-story building at 30 W. Chicago. The Y wants it preserved as affordable housing and has said social mission, not sales price, is driving the deal.

“Business people come to terms and then well-meaning attorneys make it more complex,” Holsten said. “We’re just dealing with a lot of minutiae.” The Y said in a statement that it expects to close the sale to Holsten in May 2013.

RIVER NORTH SALE: Cedar Street Co. and ABC Realty Investments bought 303 W. Erie for $11 million. The six-story loft building includes the bar HopHaus, which was part of the sale. HopHaus will be revitalized in hopes of increasing the building’s value, Cedar Street said.

HOLIDAY SPIRIT: Pangea Properties, a Chicago company that buys distressed apartment buildings and fixes up the units, will host a free catered dinner for about 500 tenants and their guests Thursday at the South Shore Cultural Center. It’s a unique event for a landlord; Pangea said it is making a point to thank its tenants and support its communities. The temporary staffing firm LaSalle Network is cosponsoring the catered dinner.

Pangea, which was founded in 2008, has more than 5,000 apartments in Chicago and its suburbs.

AND ON THAT NOTE: May the impulse to serve others drive your holiday celebrations. For all with a special interest in real estate, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good site!

DOING THE DEALS: Conor Commercial Real Estate said it bought from the Busse family 20 acres north of Interstate 90 and Randall Road in Elgin and will build a speculative industrial building. Doing “spec,” which means no tenants have been secured yet, is a leap of faith these days. The 342,000-square-foot building is due to be started early in 2013. . . . Bradford Allen Realty Services brokered a lease of 22,000 square feet to Styrolution America at 4245 Meridian Parkway, Aurora, bringing the 140,000-square-foot office building to full occupancy. . . . Colliers International secured two large tenants for owners of 2701 Busse Road in Elk Grove Village. Flo-Rite Products Co. LLC leased 128,000 square feet and IMS Cos. leased 107,000 square feet.

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.



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