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Newcastle Snaps Up 5 Milwaukee Avenue Buildings in Busy Wicker Park Strip

By Alisa Hauser | August 28, 2013 5:23pm | Updated on August 28, 2013 5:33pm
 Newcastle Limited, a Chicago real estate firm, purchased five prominent buildings in a busy stretch of Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park. The $16.2 million deal was made by Baum Realty, which put the properties on the market in May and entertained over 10 offers.
Newcastle Buys Five Buildings in Wicker Park
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WICKER PARK — A real estate investment firm which has been snapping up properties in Wicker Park and Bucktown has added five more to their portfolio, including a three-story building that contains an Urban Outfitters.

Newcastle Limited purchased several buildings on the 1400 and 1500 blocks of North Milwaukee Avenue for a total of $16.2 million in a transaction first reported by Crain's Wednesday.

Located in a busy retail corridor just south of the Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues intersection, the properties were put on the market by Baum Realty in May. 

Baum entertained over 10 offers from investors from the east and west coasts as well as Chicago, according to Greg Diez, a broker with the West Town firm that represented seller Alan Kaplan.

 The building housing G-Star, a clothing shop at 1525 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park was part of a $16.2 million real estate transaction involving five buildings.
The building housing G-Star, a clothing shop at 1525 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park was part of a $16.2 million real estate transaction involving five buildings.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

Kaplan's Northbrook-based firm, Repak Real Estate, purchased the five buildings in 2008 from Hood Development, which had transformed a former plumbing supply and hardware store —occupying 32,000 square-feet between 1519-29 N. Milwaukee Ave. — into retail storefronts.

The tenants in what Baum Realty was marketing as the "Repak Portfolio" include Citibank (1455 N. Milwaukee Ave), Urban Outfitters (1521 N. Milwaukee Ave.), G-Star (1525 N. Milwaukee Ave.), Chrome Industries (1529 N. Milwaukee Ave.), Crossroads Trading (1519 N. Milwaukee Ave.) and Dermatology and Aesthetics of Wicker Park (1455 N. Milwaukee Ave.)

While four of the buildings have retail storefronts on the ground level and condos above them, the Urban Outfitters building is a three-story building.

The deal is another sign of a rebounding Chicago real estate industry and likely would have not happened two years ago, Dietz said, when "there was not a lot of tenant confidence and investors were worried..."

Dietz added that "interest rates, while they are climbing, are still doing well and strong buyers have access to that credit."

Dietz said the tenants in the Repak portfolio are paying "a mix of at-market and below-market rent" and a few have "near term" leases scheduled to end in 2014 or 2015, which could mean new rent negotiations in the popular retail strip.

Baum Realty Group has "done in excess of 50 leases in Six Corners [Wicker Park] and treat that area as our backyard," Dietz said.

Dietz said that average market rents are in the $45 to $50 per-square-foot range in the 1400 block of Milwaukee, while in the 1500 to 1600 block, rents can go to $50 or $75 per square-foot "depending on where you are at."

"As you get closer to the six corner intersection of Milwaukee, Damen and North [avenues], the rents go up, as you diverge from there the rents go down," Dietz said.

Dedicated parking is also in high demand, with a building at 1455 N. Milwaukee Ave. which houses Citibank and a dermatology practice being unique to the just-sold portfolio because of a lot behind the bank containing 20 parking spaces, which Dietz described as "a big selling point."

Elsewhere in Wicker Park, Newcastle owns a building at 1640 N. Damen Ave. that will soon be home to a Nike store and the shuttered Salud storefront at 1471 N. Milwaukee Ave.. The company also owns a building on the northeast corner of Damen and Pierce avenues which houses Penny's Noodles and Moon Voyage boutique.

Newcastle previously worked with Baum on a $13.2 million purchase of MCM Plaza, a strip mall at 1500-20 N. Damen Ave. containing a 7-11 and a Lou Malnati's Pizza, among other tenants.

In February, Newcastle worked with Baum Realty on a $2.9 million purchase of two neighboring buildings at 1733- 35 N. Damen Ave. Tenants include Clothes Minded, an independently-owned boutique, and a Chipotle restaurant.