More stores planned at Gold Coast corner

More stores planned at Gold Coast corner
By: Micah Maidenberg

Evanston-based landlord Ralph Marol is raising his bet on the Gold Coast retail market.

Mr. Marol plans to demolish a 14,800-square-foot one-story building he owns at the northeast corner of State, Rush and Cedar streets, replacing it with a three-story, 27,000-square-foot retail project. Redevelopment “seems to be the trend,” he said. “There’s some vertical economies of scale we could derive.”

The proposal shows how property owners are wagering that tenants will move north from the Gold Coast’s core retail corridors along Oak, Walton and Rush streets, since there’s little space left to lease there.

“If the trade area is going to expand at all, it would seem more logical it would push north, because of the activity and revenue already generated by the restaurants,” said John Vance, vice president at Stone Real Estate Corp., a Chicago-based retail broker.

Mr. Marol faces competition across the street at 1100 N. State St., where a venture that includes developer David Pisor is developing a new building with up to three floors of retail and a restaurant and night club.


Mr. Marol said he wants to build 6,000 square feet of ground-level retail space split between five shops, fetching rents of up to $225 per square foot. The second and third floors would offer 13,000 square feet, and would be designed for a single restaurant tenant. An 8,000-square-foot basement would be designed for a medical tenant or a spa.

He’s hired Chicago-based Baum Realty Group LLC principals Adam Secher and Janika Brenner to lease the proposed development, and Peter Block and Eric Suffoletto, executives in the Rosemont office of Colliers International, as asset managers for the project.

It’s unclear what the development would cost. The building’s current tenants, a Corner Bakery Cafe, the Chinese and Thai eatery Big Bowl and independent lobster shop Da Lobstah, all have leases that terminate in August 2015, Mr. Marol said.

Media representatives for Corner Bakery, owned by Atlanta-based Roark Capital Group, and Big Bowl, a brand of Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc., did not return calls. J Wolf, who owns Da Lobstah, declined to comment.

All will likely lose their slots “because of where rents are going on the street,” Mr. Marol said. It’s possible Lettuce could open a restaurant in the project, he added.

To move ahead with the project, Mr. Marol also must secure a zoning change. Construction wouldn’t start until 2015, with tenant occupancy slated for a year later.

Mr. Marol also owns a vacant retail building at 1051 N. Rush St. formerly occupied by a Puma shore store.