CHICAGO-A joint venture between Robert Levinson, founder and president of RSL Building Corp., and Steven Levin, founder and president of Brijus Properties, are acquiring four buildings, with a total of 75,000 sf on Kinzie St. with plans to redevelop the property into the Kinzie Design Center. The buildings at 220 W. Kinzie St., 222 W. Kinzie St., 226 W. Kinzie St. and 228 W. Kinzie St. were acquired for approximately $7.5 million from Elmer Morris, who had owned the properties since the 1940′s. A cap rate was not disclosed.

The joint venture is renovating and repositioning the property with a focus on the design and furniture industries. The estimated cost for the center is $10.5 million. The joint venture received $9.2 million in financing, which includes the acquisition, construction costs and tenant improvement allowances, Levinson says.

The Kinzie Design Center is about 60% leased but the joint venture is in talks with a possible tenant that could bring the property to more than 80% leased, Levinson says. Other tenants include furniture retailer Haute Living, restaurant Aigre Doux, architects and interior designers. Smallbone of Devizes, a kitchen designer based in the United Kingdom, has signed a 12-year lease for 3,200 sf on the first floor of 220 W. Kinzie St., Levinson says. Paris Ceramics, an affiliate of Smallbone, leases space in the Merchandise Mart but this will be only Smallbone’s third location in the United States. Smallbones’ other two locations are in Manhattan and Greenwich, CT.

Ed Carr, with Alliance Real Estate Group, is the leasing agent for Kinzie Design Center. The asking lease rate is in the low $20′s per sf, modified gross, for office space and a blended rate of $35 per sf, net, for the remaining retail space.The property is located directly across from the Merchandise Mart. “We consider that it is a very rare opportunity to buy an assemblage of four buildings in River North that have been assembled over 50 years,” Levinson says. The buildings, which were constructed in the late 1800′s, are in the process of being renovated. Levinson and Levin, who are brothers-in-law, are both self-proclaimed architecture buffs and wanted to redevelop the property as opposed to tear down the structures. The exterior is being tuck pointed and the masonry is being restored. The buildings systems and interior spaces are also being renovated and upgraded, such as painting and upgrading the elevators and electrical service. The exterior renovations are expected to be complete within 90 days.

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