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May 15, 2014

Sol Barket, a partner at Centrum Partners LLC, has left the Chicago-based real estate developer to launch his own business.

The new company, Condor Partners LLC, will team up with Centrum on deals and pursue its own acquisitions with a focus on hospitality, retail and residential, according to an email announcing the new venture.

Mr. Barket, a partner at Centrum for 20 years, said he is going off on his own largely because he is interested in pursuing more hotel deals and his partners, Arthur Slaven and John McLinden, weren’t, wary of the risks.

“It’s really just me wanting to do more hotels and large-scale projects,” he said.

Centrum’s predecessor, Centrum Properties Inc., was one of the biggest residential and retail developers in the Chicago area before the recession — it built the North Avenue Collection shopping center on the near North Side and converted the Montgomery Ward & Co. headquarters in River North into condominiums — and was busy nationally as well.

Several of the company’s projects ran into loan trouble after the real estate crash, including the Roosevelt Collection in the South Loop, but the firm has rebooted as Centrum Partners and ramped up its development efforts as the market has recovered.

AMICABLE PARTING

Mr. Barket’s departure was amicable, said Centrum Partner John McLinden.

“Sol has been a terrific partner,” he said. “He’s a great entrepreneur and we wish him luck.”

Condor will be based out of the same River North office building, at 225 W. Hubbard St., where Centrum is headquartered. The firm has four employees, including Mr. Barket, who said he aims to hire a couple more over the next year.

Mr. Barket said he is pursuing a few hotel development opportunities, including one in West Hollywood, Calif., and one in downtown Chicago that he declined to discuss. In addition to real estate, Condor will focus on Mr. Barket’s investment in Snarf’s Sandwiches, a submarine sandwich chain with almost 20 restaurants in Colorado, Chicago, St. Louis and Austin, Texas.

Snarf’s has two restaurants in Chicago and two under construction. Mr. Barket wants to expand the chain, with a goal of hitting 50 restaurants in the Chicago area.

Condor will also oversee Mr. Barket’s investments in Allyu Spa and Japonais restaurant in the former Montgomery Ward catalog building in River North, which Centrum redeveloped.

Centrum, meanwhile, is planning apartment developments in Wicker Park, Lakeview and Evanston, Mr. McLinden said. The developer also is building a shopping center in Skokie anchored by a Mariano’s Fresh Market and recently completed construction on a Walgreen’s pharmacy in a former Border Books & Music store in Lakeview and a Nordstrom Rack in the Clybourn Corridor retail district, he said.