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Bucktown Sculptor Puts Buildings for Sale Near Trail, 'Time to Make a Move'

By Alisa Hauser | August 5, 2014 9:43am
 Several commercial buildings are for sale in the 1800 block of North Milwaukee Avenue in Bucktown.
1800 Block of North Milwaukee Avenue in Bucktown
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BUCKTOWN — A "sleepy block" in Bucktown could be waking up if deals are closed on industrial buildings along the 1800 block of North Milwaukee Avenue that are being eyed by buyers who want to bring new condos, clothing shops, restaurants and day care centers to the area.

Sculptor Ron Gard put his three buildings at 1879-85 N. Milwaukee Ave. on the market a few months ago because, he said, it was "time to make a move."

"I was approached by so many realtors and developers. The values have come back, interest rates are low," said Gard, who designs and builds sets for films and commercials.

Gard's one-story buildings, which total 8,800 square feet, are listed for $1.65 million. Realtor Jim Darrow, representing Gard, said there's been "a tremendous amount of interest in the buildings and several offers [are] on the table."

Darrow said most of the interest was from developers looking to tear down Gard's buildings and build condos, though some wanted to use the original structures as an architect's office or day care center.

The 1800 block of North Milwaukee Avenue has "historically been a sleepy block and it has definitely picked up," the realtor said.

Darrow called the 606 project, which includes a nearby park at 1805 N. Milwaukee Ave. that leads to The Bloomingdale Trail, "a huge bonus for the whole area." He also touted the CTA Western Blue Line "L" station.

Scheduled to open next summer, the 2.7-mile elevated Bloomingdale Trail will span several neighborhoods, from the baby stroller-filled streets of Bucktown to Ridgeway Avenue in Humboldt Park, and will serve as the centerpiece of a larger system also known as "The 606." Real estate experts have predicted the trail would spark development.

Gard, who lives three blocks from his workshop at 1883 N. Milwaukee Ave and has been walking to work for 20 years, admitted to having a bit of "seller's remorse" as the offers continue to "go up."

Gard said he hoped to stay as close as possible to the area if he decides to sell the buildings, which include a car upholstery shop next to his studio.

Up the street from Gard's buildings, a 6,600-square-foot building at 1812-16 N. Milwaukee Ave. has been on the market for almost three years but has seen renewed interest from buyers in the past seven months, according to Realtor Luke Sauer.

"We are currently entertaining a lot of offers" for the building, Sauer said. While the building appears vacant, it is actually being used as storage for restaurant equipment.

Sauer said most of the offers were in the $1.7 million range and he anticipated "making a sale soon."

Sauer said there are "all types of retail uses" being considered by buyers, "from clothing to service-related to restaurants to multi-family with retail components and dog care and child care."

Uriah Ruta, owner of Uprise, a skate shop at 1820 N. Milwaukee Ave., said he was hoping the building being represented by Sauer would be sold soon.

"It's a community here. We should have positive, good things and not empty buildings," Ruta said.

The fact that both Gard's and the industrial storage building are commanding offers for more than $1.6 million is significant based on sales of similar buildings in the same block.

A 3,300-square-foot, one-story industrial building at 1894 N. Milwaukee Ave was sold in December of 2012 for $300,000 to a venture called 1894 N. Milwaukee Ave. LLC, according to Cook County records. That building is currently available for lease.

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