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'Mayor of River North' Says We're Not Finished


He built it. They came. But they're not done coming, Friedman Properties CEO Albert Friedman says. River North is only mid-cycle, and the next few decades will be equally impactful on its character and skyline.


Here's Albert, flanked by daughter Julie and wife Susan, at the Lincoln Park Builders of Chicago's 25th annual Real Estate Forum last week (more than 700 turned out at Germania Place), where he received the Impact Award. Hospitality has been a bright spot for River North, Albert (a grandfather of four) says, and he doesn't just mean hotels. Friedman's brought in night spots, retail, and restaurants that have evolved with the trends, like recently opened Lyfe Kitchen, which follows the migration to healthier fare that started with local chain Protein Bar. (We predict LEED-Gluten buildings are just around the corner.) We'll continue to see a youthful presence in River North, Albert tells us, something that's evident in their core office business with the tech tenant boom.


"It's the advent of not just suits and ties, but jeans and T-shirts," he says, predicting that an increasing number of these workers will make the neighborhood their home. On the residential front, Friedman just finished 409-unit AMLI River North at Clark and Hubbard with AMLI (right, at the groundbreaking with AMLI's Greg Mutz). Albert says the company will continue its more diversified and opportunistic acquisition strategy, and it's important to remember that interest rates are not the panacea. Everything has to work, from property selection to marketing to cost control on a daily basis, he adds.