by Dan Rafter
Cushman & Wakefield might be on the verge of some Chicago retail history now that it is marketing the three-building portfolio known as 669 Mag Mile.
The company is handling the sales efforts of three prime properties located on the destination shopping strip of Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue: 663, 669 and 673 N. Michigan Ave. The properties together include about 148,000 square feet of space. They’re home, too, to the flagship stores for Nike, Cole Haan and Garmin.
The top-end stores and the desirable location mean that when the buildings sell, the odds are high that they’ll fetch one of the largest retail sales prices in Chicago’s history.
Michael Marks, senior director of retail investment advisors for Cushman & Wakefield and a leader of the team marketing the Michigan Avenue properties, said that the chance to represent such prime retail space is a rare one, and one that he isn’t taking for granted.
“It is rare any time a significant asset on Michigan Avenue becomes available and is fully delivered to the market,” Marks said. “Any time you have the chance to compete for an assignment of this caliber, you bring all of your resources to bear.”
The 699 Mag Mile package comes with a special advantage: The buildings have no historic-landmark regulations. This means that the new owners can get creative should they decide to rework the retail space.
“Not having any limitations is important,” Marks said. “The way retail and retailers are evolving today, you are seeing more creativity. By not having those historic limitations, retailers will have the chance to open up walls, change the storefront or rework the visibility of the windows and signage. It provides a tremendous amount of flexibility when you are looking for a new flagship user.”
And a new flagship user will soon be coming to the store. Garmin last year announced that it is ready to leave its 15,607-square-foot space at 663 N. Michigan Ave. before its lease officially expires in 2016.
Danny Jacobson, a senior director with the Cushman & Wakefield Retail Services Group — and another member of the team marketing the properties — said that North Michigan Avenue remains a special place for retailers.
This is reflected in how much retailers are willing to pay to open locations on this fabled stretch. Cushman & Wakefield’s Main Streets Around the World report released late last year said that ground-floor rents on North Michigan Avenue average about $485 a square foot a year. This ranks North Michigan Avenue as the eighth-highest of markets in North America and South America.
“There is such enormous foot traffic and tourism on that street,” he said. “You can do some real building of your brand if you open a store on the Magnificent Mile. North Michigan Avenue gives you the opportunity to open a showcase location to help define your brand.”
Under Armour, the athletic apparel-maker based in Baltimore, has done just that with its 30,000-square-foot store at 600 N. Michigan Ave., a showcase location that the company opened in March of this year.
Under Armour’s shop boasts such extras as a five-sided video screen and a wall covered in ivy. That wall, of course, is a tribute to Wrigley Field.
With Garmin ready to leave, another retailer will have its own chance to make a splash on North Michigan Avenue.
“The size, upside potential and irreplaceable location of this particular asset will make it one of the most high-profile retail assets ever sold in Chicago’s history,” said Luke Molloy, senior director of retail services for Cushman & Wakefield.