WICKER PARK — A trio of buildings along Milwaukee Avenue that formerly housed a massive furniture store are up for sale and asking $12.3 million, or each can be bought separately, according to a Baum Realty Group listing.
Arguably once Wicker Park's largest furniture store, the shuttered Continental Furniture spans three adjacent two- and four-story commercial buildings. The redevelopment opportunity includes 61,000 square feet of building area on nearly 22,000 square feet of land.
Described by Baum broker Greg Dietz as "tremendous assets in an irreplaceable location" of which "no available redevelopment in the area" can compare, the buildings are located at 1421-1427 N. Milwaukee Ave. (Group B); 1431-1437 N. Milwaukee Ave. (Group A); and 1428-1430 N. Wood Street (Group C).
A single building at 1429 N. Milwaukee Ave., in the middle of the row, is not for sale.
Dietz said that the owner of that building, while in the same family as the owners of the three groupings, wants to keep the building as a longer-term investment. DeciBel Audio is the longtime ground floor tenant of that building.
An individual listing for the 1421-1427 N. Milwaukee Ave. four-story building also lists the possibility of using a water tower behind the building for signage. The property also has a freight elevator and the top two floors were previously used for storage but could be converted into apartments or condos.
The former Central Furniture Mart is empty. The shop closed last year after 64 years in business, and for several months after the main store left, a business office remained in operation.
That office has since closed and a sign advertising the availability of the properties recently appeared in the window, though the listing has been active for several months.
The buildings, which have alley access and rooftop spaces, are ideal for a shared office concept, entertainment venue or another creative use, Dietz said.
But if none of those suggested uses transpire, Dietz said that "traditional first-floor retail (soft goods, restaurants, etc.)" and residential units above the first floor is also "a viable redevelopment plan."
The fact that this opportunity is even available relates to changing consumer retail appetites.
At one point, the street boasted dozens of furniture stores as well as shops selling rugs and bedding.
Today the 1400 and 1500 blocks of North Milwaukee Avenue feature trendy restaurants, bars and boutiques selling shoes (including Steve Madden, Aldo, Doc Marten, Fluevog, St. Alfred and a forthcoming Adidas), clothing and more.
"Many of the furniture stores have shuttered and these long-time businesses also owned the real estate. Continental Furniture is similar," Dietz said.
Retail tenants in the 1431-1437 N. Milwaukee Ave. building include the recently expanded Fringe Salon and the forthcoming Devil Dogs. Plus, there are 11 apartments above the two stores. Otherwise, the remaining upper floor spaces at 1421-27 N. Milwaukee Ave. are vacant as well as a garage at 1428 N. Wood St.
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