Calif. Investment Firm Purchases Chase Building

By Matt PresserThe Daily Northwestern

Evanston’s tallest building is in new hands.

The Chase Building, located on Davis Street and Orrington Avenue, was bought by a Los Angeles-based investment firm for an undisclosed amount, according to an announcement made by the firm last week.

In addition to the 20-story office tower, the purchase includes the adjacent two-story retail building formerly occupied by Borders Books and Music until the store moved to 1700 Maple Ave. in 2003.

According to a press release sent by Lowe Enterprises Investors, the company plans to make $4 million in improvements to the office building, including enhancements to the building’s heating and cooling system and its elevators.

About 95 percent of the tower is leased to a variety of tenants including JP Morgan Chase, Magnetar Capital, Mather LifeWays and Medpoint.

But about 25 percent of the office tower will become available in early 2007, according to a press release. Kathy Briscoe, executive vice president for Lowe Enterprises Investors, declined to elaborate on why the space will be vacant.

The tower, which was built in 1969 and is the tallest building between Chicago and Milwaukee, is five-and-a-half inches taller than the nearby Sherman Plaza development, according to Emporis Buildings, an online database on architectural and building data.

“We think it’s a strong and strengthening market with good amenities being added nearby,” Briscoe said. “We are very excited about our ability to create value going forward.”

The release, published Thursday afternoon, said the company will evaluate options for leasing or redevelopment of the former Borders space.

A plan to redevelop the area was brought to the Evanston City Council in June 2005, touting a “more inviting and accessible” smaller shopping plaza, developer Lee Golub told the DAILY at the time.

The plans were never acted upon.

Meanwhile, the east side of Orrington Avenue between Church and Davis streets has sat empty since the last tenant moved away in January 2005. Two new restaurants placed “coming soon” signs in store windows on the street in the spring, but plans to open by the end of the summer have not been realized.

There is no word yet as to how the new company will revitalize the shopping area.

“We’re looking at a couple of different scenarios, but we haven’t finalized anything yet,” Briscoe said.

Diane Williams, executive director of EvMark, a downtown marketing organization, said there are more questions than answers about what the new owners will do with the property.

“It’s more of a wait-and-see issue to see what the new owners decide to do,” Williams said.

Reach Matt Presser at [email protected]