Chicago’s real estate community is keenly focused on the unfolding return to work strategies of everyone from Corporate America to the all-important small entrepreneurial businesses. Companies are eager to get back to the office, landlords are looking to bolster tenancies, and retailers occupying ground-floor retail space want their cash registers to ring.
With no real certainty on how the return will unfold, some of the greatest opportunities for retailers and building owners downtown is ground floor retail spaces. This holds true in submarkets like River North that have an 18/24-7 live-work-play environment that is both well established and diversified.
Typically, ground floor retail space helps building owners provide amenities and conveniences to tenants that occupy space in the floors above in addition to the neighborhood. It takes on an expanded dimension in live-work-play environments, providing enhanced benefits for retailers and property owners. The retail tenants in these spaces can drive traffic and bring an element of synergy to the building and its office tenants.
In a CBD location (i.e. The Loop), these spaces likely will be occupied by a sundry store, a coffee shop, or a quick service restaurant. They may also attract a traditional sit-down or fast casual restaurant.
While the retailer/restaurant may draw from the immediate surrounding area, at the end of the day, after the last lunch has been served or when the majority of the commuters have headed home, the retailers shut their doors. If a tenant can’t generate enough potential traffic from 9-5 Monday through Friday, their lease may be short lived.
In Chicago’s River North neighborhood, at street level on any given block, foot traffic may encounter a loft style or conventional office building, the entrance to a recently developed multifamily (apartments or condominium) building with 50 to 250 units, or a boutique hotel. Further, the foot traffic may be as heavy at 9 am on a Tuesday morning as it is at 6 pm on a Thursday or noon on a Saturday. As a result, a tenant in those spaces has the ability to generate more sales based on the expanded operating hours, and therefore has a greater chance for success.
Next Realty affiliates own two properties in the River North submarket that currently have ground floor retail spaces available: 620 N. LaSalle and Kingsbury Center (354 W. Hubbard). There are great similarities in the opportunities—most notably the mixed-use, live-work-play nature of their immediate neighborhoods. Throughout River North there are millions of square feet of office space, new and established multifamily developments that have thousands of residential units, and hotels that have hundreds of rooms, creating a dense pool of potential customers.
Following is a description of Next’s River North offerings:
620 N. LaSalle Street
The approximately 10,000 square feet of ground floor retail space at 620 N. LaSalle Street is an open slate, ready for immediate occupancy following the 2018 comprehensive renovation at the iconic building. In fact, this is the first time that retail space has been available in the building in a generation.
The eight story building, with seven floors of office space that currently is in lease up phase and is attracting considerable traffic has an exceptional location at the corner of Ontario and LaSalle, where traffic counts total approximately 90,000 vehicles per day. Other highly visible and notable location attributes include its proximity to the former Rock ‘N Roll McDonalds (1 block east) Portillo’s (1 block east) and adjacent to newly developed Target store that is scheduled to open later this year. Also in close proximity are new restaurants like AVEC and Cargo Pizza, along with a new Starbucks.
Further, in the last five years there have been well over 2,400 new residential units—apartments and condos- developed in the neighborhood. A new apartment complex totaling more than 700 units is now in lease-up.
The building also has a variety of other location attributes, including direct access to the Ontario Street feeder ramp, on-site parking, and a roof deck with 360-degree views. Combined, these attributes make 620 N. LaSalle suitable for a variety of different uses—restaurants, health and fitness users, retailers, or any business seeking a flagship location. For information, go to www.620nlasalle.com.
At Kingsbury Center
The building has a 6,920-square-foot second generation restaurant space available. The space previously was occupied by 3-Greens Market, a combination casual restaurant and grab-and-go marketplace. The space has an expansive and valuable kitchen with large hoods, existing black-iron, walk-in freezer/cooler space. Located at the northwest corner of Hubbard and Orleans there also is ample outdoor seating available. This makes it a logical candidate to become another thriving River North restaurant.
The available space would also support the 90,689 square feet of office space that is found in the 6-story building. Further, it rounds out the existing area retail that already exists— CVS, Petco, and Ace Hardware.
Ground floor retail space in a dense urban environment like River North offers tremendous opportunity for building owners, retailers and the densely populated day time and nighttime populations that need convenience and services.
“Ground floor retail space in a dense urban environment like River North offers tremendous opportunity for building owners, retailers and the densely populated day time and nighttime populations that need convenience and services.”
This article was authored by Marc Blum, president and COO of Northbrook-based Next Realty and Amy Levin, Next Realty’s director of leasing.