LAKEVIEW — Southport Avenue could soon become Lakeview's version of Oak Street in the Gold Coast if one developer has his way.
L3 Capital recently purchased three properties on the street, and the company now owns seven buildings worth a total of $19 million on the popular commercial corridor — making it a huge driver for what the street will eventually look like.
And Greg Schott, the company's principal, has a clear vision: Add more national and international high-end clothing retailers in the vein of Alice and Olivia or Theory. Not a mall — more like a version of Fillmore Street in San Francisco and a complement to the stores on Oak Street in Chicago's Gold Coast, he said.
"The goal is to reposition the street," Schott said.
L3 bought 3442-46, 3447-49 and 3550-56 N. Southport Ave. in December and purchased 3434, 3423-25 and 3451-53 N. Southport Ave. this week. The company now owns nearly 12,000 square feet of retail space in mixed-use buildings on the street. Current tenants include Candyality, Coobah, Free People and Southport Grocery and Cafe.
The street will change with a combination of re-leasing and maintaining current tenants.
The vacant space at 3442 N. Southport Ave. will be filled first, Schott said. Anthony's Homemade Italian Ice and Nail Bar, stores in front of a former athletic club space, will be leaving their storefronts this year to increase the available space to 5,600 square feet, he said.
In the next two years, a total of 12,000 to 14,000 square feet of retail space in L3's buildings will be freed up for either global clothing retailers or strong local tenants, Schott said. He declined to say who's being courted because contracts are not yet final.
The company has pursued similar tactics on popular streets in other cities, he said. In Beverly Hills, Calif., L3 bought up property on North Beverly Drive, and two vacant spaces went to clothing boutiques Alice and Olivia and Theory.
"We're very into curating tenants in the street and putting the right tenants in versus just filling the space," he said.
Rent in L3 buildings is currently $55 to $65 per square foot, Schott said, and they will most likely go up due to demand for the space.
Southport's transformation in recent years to include more chains versus local retailers has been a sore spot for some, escalating after shuttered indie coffee shop Safari Cup blamed Starbuck's move across the street to 3400 N. Southport Ave. as a "blatantly arrogant" move against small business.
And the addition of upscale chains like Lululemon, Anthropologie and Free People did play a role in L3's decision to buy so much property, Schott said. But strong locally-owned clothing boutiques like Krista K and Perchance also made the street attractive, and the company wants to "be cognizant" of them, he said.
"We want to be careful with what tenants we bring to the street," he said, "and continue the tradition of the street and how it’s grown so far."