by Dan Rafter
Commercial real estate has the ability to transform entire neighborhoods. A panel of CRE experts addressed this during the Transforming Real Estate session of REJournals’ 15th annual Commercial Real Estate Forecast Conference held today in Chicago.
Panelists for this session were Brian Bernardoni, senior director of governmental affairs, Chicago Association of Realtors; Marc Blum, president of Next Realty; Rand Diamond, managing principal and co-founder with GlenStar; Michael Drew, founding principal of Structured Development; and Tony Rossi Sr., managing partner with M&R Development.
Rossi Sr. said his firm’s mixed-use Addison & Clark development across from the marquee at Wrigley Field is an example of how commercial real estate can positively impact a community. This development — construction has recently started on it — will bring about 150,000 square feet of commercial space, 148 apartment units on top of the commercial space and 410 parking spaces to Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood.
Rossi said that the development can help turn this neighborhood into more of a year-round destination.
“Right now you have a baseball neighborhood centered around an activity that is largely restricted to the summer months,” Rossi said. “To make financial investment here worthwhile, you need to convert it to a 12-month use. Our focus is to bring in commercial tenants that will be as viable in February as they are in July.”
Bernardoni agreed with this focus, saying that Wrigleyville needs everything from restaurants to hotels and grocers.
“What does Wrigleyville need?” Bernardoni said. “What doesn’t Wrigleyville need besides bars?”
The hope is that developments such as this will bring more year-round life into this popular neighborhood. It’s an example, too, of how commercial real estate can provide a boost to city neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, not every neighborhood in Chicago is thriving when it comes to development. Bernardoni said that it’s easy to focus on one or two major success stories, while ignoring that so many other neighborhoods are screaming for development that has yet to come.
“Some of these neighborhoods are dying on the vine,” Bernardoni said. “Chicago can’t be truly successful until all of these neighborhoods are getting their own success stories.”