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June 14, 2017

Photo by JGMAA rendering of plans for 1901 and 1911 S. Sangamon St.

A Chicago developer plans to convert two vacant loft warehouses in Pilsen into office space after another builder dropped a proposal to convert one of the buildings into apartments.

Condor Partners bought the vintage buildings at 1901 and 1911 S. Sangamon St. last year for what would be one of the biggest office developments in the Southwest Side neighborhood in many years, totaling 200,000 square feet and costing as much as $35 million.

“We’re going to give this project a chance to kind of be what it wants to be, and have tenants that are passionate about being in Pilsen,” said Condor Principal Michael McLean.

Dubbed Mural Park, the redevelopment will include retail, office and light manufacturing space and boast a restaurant, cafe, rooftop deck and bicycle storage, according to a statement from Transwestern, the brokerage hired to lease the buildings. Condor has already received interest from breweries and aims to attract tenants including high-tech companies, nonprofits and light-industrial users, McLean said.

“We want to be a real organic mix of different uses,” he said.


Condor is investing in a neighborhood that has had a complicated—some might say contentious—relationship with developers over the years amid an ongoing debate over gentrification. Neighborhood groups have raised concerns about proposed residential projects in Pilsen, arguing they’ll push up rents and displace working-class residents.

A rendering of the redevelopment of 1901 and 1911 S. Sangamon St. in Pilsen. - JGMA
Photo by JGMAA rendering of the redevelopment of 1901 and 1911 S. Sangamon St. in Pilsen.

Against that backdrop, Chicago developer David Baum proposed converting the building at 1901 S. Sangamon into 111 apartments in 2015. But he never went forward with his plan, which would have required a zoning change from the city, no sure thing given the neighborhood’s dynamics.

Residents had expressed concerns about the size of the development and parking, said Byron Sigcho, executive director of the Pilsen Alliance, a neighborhood group. The apartment proposal didn’t “make sense,” he said.

Baum said he decided to sell the buildings instead, after being approached by Condor. A venture led by Baum sold the property to a Condor entity for $5 million last September, according to Cook County property records. Condor is financing the redevelopment with an $11 million mortgage from Los Angeles-based Calmwater Capital, county records show.


“We are investing in Pilsen because we believe in what it is today, and we do not want that necessarily to change,” McLean said, adding the company hopes it can “take a $50,000-a-year real estate bill and turn it into a half-a-million-dollar real estate bill without displacing and disrupting a very valuable culture.”

Founded by former Centrum Partners executives in 2014, Condor is developing a hotel on Wells Street in Old Town and acquired a loft office building in the Clybourn Corridor last year.

At the Pilsen property, the firm aims to build a community plaza in conjunction with the neighborhood’s National Museum of Mexican Art that will be accessible along the Paseo, a four-mile rails-to-trails project that will connect Pilsen and Little Village.

McLean also envisions a farmer’s market and movie nights at the site in the future. He said Condor is spending between $100 and $150 per square foot to rehab the buildings, which have been vacant for decades.

A former lumber warehousing and distribution hub, the Sangamon buildings are just south of Pilsen’s 18th Street business district and two blocks west of South Halsted Street.

Pilsen has potential as an office market, but it’s still early, said Matt Garrison, managing principal at Chicago developer R2. In 2015, the firm agreed to buy a 300,000-square-foot warehouse at 465 W. Cermak Road with plans to convert it into office space. But it never closed on the deal.

“The reason we didn’t move forward with the Class A loft development in Pilsen was because we did not think the demand existed,” Garrison said.

But he said it will eventually.

“It’s going to happen,” Garrison said. “It’s just a question of when.”

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ORLAND PARK, Ill., Jan. 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Edwards Realty Company and Condor Partners have formed a joint venture partnership to complete the purchase of The Boulevard St. Louis, a 200,000 square foot five-acre retail, luxury apartment and office enclave in Richmond Heights across from the St. Louis Galleria. The sale included the 4.8 acres south of the commercial development. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Edwards Realty Company is a privately held real estate investment and development firm based in Orland Park, Illinois and led by Edward Hassan, founding partner, and Ramzi Hassan, partner. Edwards Realty Company has over 25 years experience in retail, residential and mixed-use management and development and controls a $65 million commercial property portfolio. Sol Barket, formerly of St. Louis, heads Condor Partners. Barket as founding partner of Condor and with his prior company, Centrum Properties, has developed many retail and mixed-use projects from coast to coast including Creve Coeur Pavilion in St. Louis.

Since 2004 The Boulevard has been known as the premier lifestyle development in the St. Louis metropolitan area and is home to Missouri’s first Crate and Barrel store and Soft Surroundings’ first Missouri location, restaurants Maggiano’s Little Italy and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, along with Allegro at The Boulevard, 74 luxury residential apartments and a professional office complex.

“The purchase of The Boulevard is part of our strategy to enhance and add value to a mixed-use destination that is highly regarded as the epicenter of the market,” said Edwards Realty Partner Ramzi Hassan. “The Boulevard is a great brand with tremendous growth and development potential, and we intend to implement strategies to unlock that potential immediately.”

Edwards and Condor are planning to advance the second phase to include an exciting mix of retail, restaurants, entertainment, office and residential uses that will give the residents and visitors of greater St. Louis a one-of-a kind experience where they can live, shop, dine and play. Edwards Realty Company will oversee management and operations of the property. The marketing and leasing responsibilities for phase two will be shared between Mid-America Asset Management Company, a Chicago based retail real estate organization, and Pace Properties. Further announcements regarding The Boulevard will be forthcoming in the very near future.

The Boulevard St. Louis is located in Richmond Heights, MO.

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By Heather Cherone | March 24, 2015 5:33am

PORTAGE PARK — Several storefronts in the heart of the Six Corners Shopping District — some boarded up for years — have a new owner and are poised to be transformed into restaurants, officials said.

Condor Partners bought eight storefronts near Irving Park Road and Cicero and Milwaukee avenues, and are looking for tenants interested in opening up restaurants or event spaces across the street from the Portage Theater, said Michael McLean, a partner in the firm.

“Six Corners is a very special place to be right now,” McLean said. “We’ve been impressed by the redevelopment efforts.”

Condor Partners bought five storefronts from 4047-55 N. Milwaukee Ave and three storefronts from 4029-37 N. Milwaukee Ave., on either side of the building at 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., which is home to the Filament Theatre Ensemble and the National Veterans Art Museum and is the future home of the Chicago Ballet Center.

Once owned in part by Portage Theater owner Eddie Carranza, Condor paid $1.75 million for 30,000 square feet of property near Six Corners, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.

Condor said it purchased “underutilized commercial property”  in an effort to be part of the renaissance of Six Corners, which the company said is “becoming a bustling shopping and entertainment district.”

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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.


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.