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Developers have an eye on downtown riverfront site

Artist rendering showing 35-story apartment tower planned for 9th State Streets.

Artist rendering showing a 35-story apartment tower planned for 9th and State Streets.

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Updated: December 10, 2011 9:52AM

‘There are certain people who would like to team up again. It’s like putting the band back together,” said Drew Nieman, principal at Colliers International and an experienced hand at filling office space downtown.

That was all the former executive at John Buck Co. would say when asked whether he has his eye on a particular riverfront site downtown: 400 W. Randolph, along the west bank of the river between Lake and Randolph. It has Amtrak-owned commuter tracks leading to Union Station, but a developer could build on an air-rights deal. The site is across Randolph from Boeing Co.’s headquarters.

Sources said Nieman and John O’Donnell, former president of the Buck firm, are close to acquiring the property from developer Michael Reschke, who has controlled it for years.

Resch­ke once wanted twin residential towers there and more recently switched the plan to an office building, but nothing took hold. He hired the firm Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP to market the property. Reschke declined to comment, noting that he has signed confidentiality agreements with several potential buyers.

GOLUB GOBBLE: Golub & Co., mentioned here last week for plans to pair an apartment high-rise with a medical office building in Streeterville, is attached to another deal. The city’s Community Development Commission on Tuesday agreed to sell to Golub property at the southeast corner of 9th and State. This is no surprise given the state of real estate finance — Golub plans an apartment tower, 35 stories with 392 market-rate units. The city wanted $8.5 million for the parcel, used as a parking lot, but Golub was the only one to submit an offer. The firm is paying $6 million plus a donation of $3.9 million to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Ever since its July announce­ment that it will sell its Lincoln Park property to McCaffery Interests Inc., Children’s Memorial Hospital has been mum on the price. A source now says McCaffery agreed to pay $57 million, and maybe up to $62 million, depending on what finally gets built on the 6 acres near Lincoln and Fullerton.

To some observers, $10 mil­lion per acre will only compel McCaffery to propose much more density than the neighborhood will accept. Martin Stern, execu­tive vice president of U.S. Equities Realty and the hospital’s consultant in the sale, declined to discuss the price.

POST OFFICE HEIGHTS: Maybe that’ll be the future name of a development at 600 S. Wells, a roughly 1½-acre empty lot on the southwest corner of Harrison and Wells. The property is nestled among parcels controlled by British investor Bill Davies, who fancies that he can turn the old downtown post office and surrounding pieces into a self-contained high-rise city.

The corner site at 600 S. Wells, however, remains in the hands of D2 Realty Services Inc. D2 has tried to peddle it for years, and now it’s putting it up for auction by Sheldon Good & Co.

It’s a sealed-bid affair with no minimum bid and a deadline of Dec. 15. The parcel, which is zoned for 450,000 square feet, is “an excellent opportunistic play,” said Mark Troen, chief operating officer at Sheldon Good. He called it a “grassy knoll” and said a surface parking lot can be quickly placed on the site as a moneymaker.

D2 hopes the auction will focus interest on the site. “Real estate auctions provide a compelling platform for people to make a decision,” Troen said. Details are at

CALLING ALL SAINTS: A little divine intervention might be needed to save the redevelopment of the old St. Boniface Church at 1358 W. Chestnut. The owner of the property, Institutional Project Management-Amicus, has filed a zoning application to put 84 units of senior housing on the site, and zoning usually is a sign of progress.

But in this case, the request reflects a downsizing of the project, said IPM-Amicus Chairman Ken McHugh. He would preserve the entire church, a Romanesque structure with four bell towers, but McHugh said an initial plan to literally “raise the roof” proved structurally unfeasible.

So the number of housing units was cut from a planned 125. McHugh said the $20 million project needs historic tax credits to be a reasonable investment. If he doesn’t get them, McHugh said his deal with the city requires that he start tearing down the church in the spring and hand over a vacant lot. The neighborhood has worked for years to find a new use for the church, which the Archdiocese of Chicago gave up on 21 years ago, and demolition would be a sad end.

DOING THE DEALS: Urban Partnership Bank opens a branch Thursday at 5253 W. Madison, promising low-cost banking services for the Austin area.

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