Canadian Firm Buys Chicago MOB

Mohawk Asset Management Corp. purchased the 30,000-square-foot Portage Park Medical Office Building from the fully leased property's lead tenant.
5600 W. Addison St. Image courtesy of Mohawk Asset Management Corp.

Toronto-based Mohawk Asset Management Corp. has enhanced its footprint in the U.S. with the acquisition of the Portage Park Medical Office Building in Chicago. Mohawk purchased the approximately 30,000-square-foot, fully leased property in a sale-leaseback transaction with lead tenant Community First Healthcare of Illinois Inc.

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In conjunction with the purchase of Portage Park, Mohawk formed Mohawk Chicago (Portage Park) Opportunity Partners (I) LP. Developed in the 1970s, the five-story building carries the address of 5600 W. Addison St. and sits just across from the 299-bed Community First Medical Center Hospital. Tenants at the property include Addison Central Pharmacy, which occupies space on the ground level. Mohawk relied on an amortizing bank mortgage to finance the acquisition. Mohawk Medical Management Corp., also part of the Mohawk Realty Advisors Ltd. group, will serve as the property manager for Portage Park.

Mohawk is planning additional acquisitions in metropolitan Chicago in 2020. “[Chicago] is an organized market of knowledgeable operators and tenants with an attractive entry price,” Andrew Shapack, co-president of Mohawk Realty Advisors Ltd., told Commercial Property Executive. “We like the ‘metropolises of the Great Lakes’—a term we probably invented—and we are looking at other value opportunities in the Great Lakes region with a growing pipeline in the Greater Chicago.”

The allure of the U.S.

Mohawk’s purchase of Portage Park marks the company’s most recent step in its cross-border investment platform, Mohawk America, which focuses on U.S. health-care properties offering stable cash flow and growth potential. The company launched the platform in 2016 under its previous incarnation as Mohawk Medical Properties REIT. “Population growth centers are achieving premiums because they may one day grow to 10 million people, while markets that already have 10 million people are overlooked. We think that’s an opportunity for health-care real estate investing,” said Shapack.

While cross-border direct investment in U.S. commercial real estate dropped 54 percent in 2019, Canada remained the leading foreign investor in the market, with an aggregate $12.2 billion in transactions, according to a report by CBRE. Given the as-yet-unknown impact of COVID-19 on the real estate market, foreign investment in the U.S. may decline again in 2020. Mohawk, however, is undeterred. “This situation has reinforced our strategy,” Shapack added. “Medical office is a defensive asset class. In regular times, our investors and partners receive insulation from macro-economic trends. And in these very challenging times right now, our properties are directly delivering the medical services to help people during a pandemic. That’s a once-in-a- great-while combination.”