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This Week's Chicago Deal Sheet

Asian-backed OC Ventures bought The Automatic Lofts, a 482-bed student housing building within walking distance of the University of Illinois at Chicago, from Empire Square Group, a New York-based private real estate investment management firm, for an undisclosed price.

OC Ventures has now acquired more than 3,000 student housing beds across the U.S. in the last two years, and company officials said this latest purchase marks the start of a major expansion strategy that will continue throughout 2020.

Automatic Lofts at University of Illinois-Chicago

“After a record enrollment year, we believe UIC will continue to draw students from tertiary Illinois state schools, which create favorable fundamentals for all student housing owners in this market,” OC Ventures Chief Investment Officer Steve Zhang said.

Automatic Lofts was built in 1901 as a telephone factory for Automatic Electric, and although the property was renovated in 2006 into luxury, loft-style apartments, OC Ventures considers this a value-add property.

Ryan Lang, Brandon Buell and Jack Brett of Newmark Knight Frank’s Student Housing group represented Empire Square Group.  

“This transaction represents the growing trend of foreign capital investors acquiring U.S. student housing assets, indicating the strength and demand of the market,” Lang said.  


Stephen Blazick joined Inland Securities Corp. as senior vice president — external wholesaler. The Oak Brook, Illinois-based firm is the exclusive dealer-manager and placement agent for real estate investment programs sponsored by Inland Real Estate Investment Corp. and Inland Private Capital Corp.


Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Group named Michael Montalvo vice president of Fort Dearborn Title, the firm’s affiliated title company. He will handle title operations growth and expand Fort Dearborn’s network of attorneys.


Lindsey Senn

Chicago-based developer Fifield Cos. promoted Lindsey Senn to executive vice president, and made her responsible for the firm’s finance and development team. At Fifield, Senn has played a key role in overseeing $600M of multifamily development in the Chicago region, which included securing Target as the anchor retail tenant for Logan, Fifield’s transit-oriented, mixed-use development under construction in Logan Square.


Frozen Assets signed a lease with IAC Properties for 98K SF at 6800 Santa Fe Drive in suburban Hodgkins, part of IAC Chicago Market Center, a 1M SF development which includes dry distribution space, cooler space, an office center and the standalone freezer facility. CBRE’s Steve Livaditis represented both firms. The freezer facility was set to become vacant, but Frozen Assets, a third-party provider for the cold storage industry, opted to take the entire facility with a new long-term lease.


Taurus Investment Holdings sold an 8.2M SF logistics portfolio in the Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Memphis markets to Investcorp. The portfolio consists of 117 buildings with more than 400 regional, national and international tenants. The firm exited its US Logistics Fund I and three co-investment vehicles totaling $204M in equity capital, but will remain the co-investment manager of the portfolio in joint venture with Investcorp.


Hamilton Partners awarded Colliers International Chicago the leasing assignment for 11301 Irving Park Road, a 117K SF warehouse and distribution facility on more than 5 acres, and 11405-11417 Irving Park Road, a similar, 100K SF facility on about 8 acres, both in suburban Franklin Park. Tom Rodeno, Matthew Stauber and Patrick Turner will market the properties, which Hamilton Partners is renovating, for sale or lease.


Qualtrics will open in 2020 a Midwest hub of 25K SF at 191 North Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago. The management software firm, which has dual headquarters in Provo, Utah, and Seattle, plans to hire more than 200 employees in the area. Colliers International’s Michael Finley, Evan Djikas and Kyle Hundelt represented Qualtrics, while Christine Choi Moore and JD Strode with Manulife Investment Management represented building management.


Darktrace, a global cyber AI company, signed a 10K SF lease at 333 North Michigan Ave. in Chicago, and plans to move into the full-floor space by the second quarter of 2020. It marks a significant expansion for the firm, which occupied less than 3K SF when it opened its Chicago office at 333 North Michigan in 2018. CBRE’s Tony Coglianese and Mark Keebler represented Darktrace.


FONA International leased 42K SF at 1100 North Raddant Road in west suburban Batavia. With this transaction, the 102K SF new speculative building, owned by Midwest Industrial Funds, is now 100% leased. Lee & Associates’ Tom Condon and Ben Cohen represented the tenant and NAI Hiffman’s Jeff Fischer and Brett Tomfohrde represented the owner.

Prairie Grove in Springfield, Illinois


Chicago-based Maverick Commercial Mortgage closed a first mortgage loan on behalf of MHPI for four manufactured housing communities MHPI owns and manages. The portfolio, which consists of three communities in Springfield, Illinois, and one in Des Moines, has a total of 303 pads. The loan was funded by a national lender, and the borrower was represented by Much Shelist’s Arnold Weinberg.


Inland Bank and Trust’s Chris Metcalf and Gia Tomaszewski originated an $11M loan for the refinancing of a 122K SF industrial facility in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The financing was structured in collaboration with Mesirow Financial’s Douglas Barker and Daniel Nyhan, who represented the property owner in the transaction.


BH Equities and Cantor Fitzgerald acquired Aurora at Summerfield, a 368-unit multifamily community at 1847 Clubhouse Drive in Aurora, Illinois, with a $50M loan from Freddie Mac. Newmark Knight Frank’s Debbie Corson and Susan Lawson represented the seller, The Connor Group. NKF’s Bill Weber, Matt Mense and Henry Stimler worked with Freddie Mac to finance the loan on behalf of the buyers.

The groundbreaking ceremony at 306 West Erie St.


North Wells Capital, the investment affiliate of Chicago-based Urban Innovations, broke ground on 306 West Erie St. The company acquired the existing 45K SF building in May 2017, and plans to more than double its size. The expansion, designed by NORR Architects, will integrate the existing brick-and-timber structure with a five-story glass addition, and include an outdoor terrace. The renovated and expanded building will have floor plates of more than 15K SF and total 93K SF. ARCO/Murray is the general contractor, JLL the leasing agent and Urban Innovations will continue managing the property.


Chicago-based design firm Wight & Co. launched Beyond Your Base, a new public affairs and pre-referendum consulting group that Denver-based Paul Hanley will lead as managing director. Beyond Your Base will help public entities seek funding for capital improvements through voter analytics, opinion research and strategic communications.


Chicago's big-box industrial market recorded its strongest gain in occupancy during the third quarter in more than two years, according to Colliers International. Net absorption totaled 6.4M SF between July and September, bringing this year's tally to 13.3M SF, eclipsing the 10.9M SF total for all of 2018. As a result, the big-box vacancy rate decreased by 10 basis points during the third quarter to 8.52%, down from more than 9% one year ago. Colliers considers precast buildings of more than 200K SF, with ceiling heights of 28 feet or higher, to be big boxes.