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Ravenswood retail deal plans derailed

roeder reports

David Roeder reports on real estate at 6:22 p.m. Thursdays on WBBM-AM (780). The reports are repeated at 10:22 p.m. Thursday and 7:22 a.m. Sunday.

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



In the Ravenswood community, next to the Metra stop on Lawrence Avenue, is a 6.5-acre parcel that seems much too vast for its longtime use as a parking lot.

Then a year ago, a development took shape for the site. The property owner, Sears Holdings Corp., shook hands with a prominent real estate firm, Magellan Development Group LLC, and proposed a retail project there with multiple parking levels for shoppers and commuters. They even had an actual anchor tenant, a Mariano’s Fresh Market, and most neighborhood residents rejoiced over the prospect.

They liked the thought of a full-line 80,000-square-foot grocery. They also liked that the development would not to force multi-family housing into a depressed market.

But not much has happened since then, and the principals in the deal are giving off bad vibes. Magellan Vice President Brian Gordon said Sears has been unwilling to proceed with a sale of the property to his firm.

“There were many complications. Price is one of them,” said Gordon, who denied that the $50 million is dead. He called it “on hiatus” but declined to get into details.

Sears uses the site at 1800 W. Lawrence as parking for its store a block away. It also runs an auto repair center on the property, which would be incorporated into the new retail complex.

Spokeswoman Kim Freely said Sears is “still considering alternatives for the site” but she declined to say what that means. She said the company hopes to discuss plans with Ravenswood’s new alderman, Ameya Pawar of the 47th Ward, but that no meeting has been scheduled.

Pawar could not be reached. He is a critic of how the city has subsidized private development using tax-increment financing. The developers had counted on help from TIF, but no specific deal had been struck.

NOT SO REGAL: The New Regal Theater at 1641 E. 79th St. ought to be a South Side treasure and a focus of the cultural life in the surrounding area. Instead, the redevelopment plans for the property are back at square one.

At noon Thursday, the Cook County sheriff is due to conduct a foreclosure auction of the city landmark. In 2009, owners Regina and Ronald Evans were sued in a foreclosure filed by Citizens Bank & Trust Co., which claims it is owed $2.2 million on the mortgage.

Then a few months later, the federal government took over Citizens. So it’s the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. that’s now pressing the foreclosure and would take ownership unless some other bidder emerges.

Competitive bidding at a foreclosure auction is rare, so it’s likely that the FDIC will be stuck with the property. Terms of the auction make it difficult for somebody else to make a sizable bid. The sheriff doesn’t wait on a mortgage application; buyers need to put up 10 percent of the purchase price at the auction and the rest within 24 hours.

The New Regal contains a lavish 2,250-seat auditorium. Designed by John Eberson, the 1927 movie palace had a Middle Eastern theme that gave audiences of long ago an illusion of sitting under a starry sky.

Regina Evans, a former Chicago police lieutenant and the police chief of Country Club Hills, gained control of the theater in 2008 but managed only rare bookings for live music. She took it over from prominent Chicagoans Edward and Bettiane Gardner, who tried for years to prop it up as a performing arts center.

As part of the sale to Evans, City Hall agreed to waive $1.9 million in grants and loans tied to the property.

FREED’S FEET FEAT: Joseph Freed and Associates LLC, owner of the Sullivan Center, otherwise known as the old Carson’s building at 1 S. State, said DSW Shoe Warehouse Inc. leased 26,000 square feet on two floors. The store will stock more than 30,000 pairs of shoes and is due to open in spring 2012, a few months before a Target is due to bow in the same building.

Freed said DSW will take 5,000 square feet on the first floor next to Target and 21,000 square feet in the basement.

Larry Freed, president of the Joseph Freed firm, said that with the DSW lease, 77 percent of the building’s retail space is spoken for. The building also contains 745,000 square feet of office space, of which 82 percent is leased. Tenants include an e-commerce division of Walgreens and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

DOING THE DEALS: Simon Property Group Inc. today will announce a “major renovation” of its Orland Square Mall, 151st Street and Route 45 in Orland Park. … Deerfield-based Janko Group led an investment group that paid $7.4 million for the 161,000-square-foot Parkway Corporate Place, a three-building office complex at 915-55 National Parkway in Schaumburg. Janko signed CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. to market the 42 percent of the complex that is vacant. … Packaging producer Ampac, represented by Cushman & Wakefield Inc., leased 105,000 square feet at 825 Turnberry Court, Hanover Park, where it will consolidate operations in Elk Grove Village and Minneapolis.



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