Is Chicago Getting A Fancy New Retail District?

In a time where physical retail is said to be suffering under the crushing wave of online purchases, there are still deals being made in the real world to bring new and exciting brick-and-mortar retail experiences to customers, and several investment groups just signed on the dotted line for a spat of contracts.

Crain’s Chicago Business reported that Thor Equities, Madison Capital, Tucker Development and McCaffery Interests have all been actively buying up property in and around the Chicago neighborhood of Fulton Market. Currently a partially vacant meatpacking and industrial area, the real estate deals number into the tens of millions, with Thor Equities paying $50 million for several low-lying buildings in the neighborhood.

Why the Fulton Market neighborhood in particular? Despite low real estate prices at the moment, the area has been the site of both residential and commercial construction, including a new state-of-the-art Google campus. According to The Wall Street Journal, newly built apartments in Fulton Market and the larger West Loop section of the city can go for above $1 million, and in the view of Scott Maesel, managing director at Sperry Van Ness and representative for the sellers of several Fulton Market properties, the area has no other place to go but up.

“I think there is a continued interest in the market,” Maesel told Crain’s Chicago Business. “While acquisition prices may have risen in the past year or two, everybody believes in this neighborhood long-term.”

Maesel believed that investors, like Thor Equities, would primarily be interested in converting the single- and two-story buildings into ground floor retail locations to serve the affluent clientele in West Loop. However, whether the group plans on managing their interests past the construction stage remains to be seen; Thor has built and attempted to sell retail properties in both NYC and Chicago in years past.