Origin, Randolph Street Double Their Investment on Chicago M-F Deal

A joint venture between Origin Investments and Randolph Street Realty Capital sold a 73-unit apartment building in Chicago for more than double the acquisition price.

By Gail Kalinoski

Lux24, Chicago
Lux24, Chicago

Chicago—When Origin Investments and Randolph Street Realty Capital bought a 67-unit condominium project in Chicago’s West Loop out of foreclosure nearly three years ago and transformed it into a 73-unit rental building, there were promising signs that the downtown neighborhood was turning around.

But even the partners were surprised at how quickly the neighborhood surrounding the former Pure Condominiums at 24 S. Morgan St. was revitalized, pushing property values and rents up. The partners recently sold the rebranded multifamily property—Lux24—in an off-market deal to an unidentified private investor for $35 million, more than double the $16.75 million acquisition price.

“This property reinforces the importance of vision, timing and location,” Origin co-founder David Scherer said in a prepared statement. “When we started looking at this asset, the West Loop/Fulton Market as we now know it was in its infancy; things were just starting to happen. We recognized what could be and today are realizing the benefit of taking an asset from distressed to vibrant.”

When Origin and Randolph Street acquired the property, it was a 67-unit failed condominium project that only had 38 units built out and four sold. A new $40 million CTA station and City Winery, a music venue and restaurant, had opened the previous year. Just as the partners were closing on their property, developers were transforming a nearby building into SoHo House, an upscale, members-only club and hotel, and Google announced it would move its Chicago headquarters to 1KFulton, a 10-story building and former warehouse owned by Sterling Bay Cos. at 1000 W. Fulton. The city’s Merchandise Mart was also in the midst of a rebirth.

“What is so obvious now, wasn’t so obvious then,” Scherer told Commercial Property Executive. “You didn’t have the companies and corporations moving into the Merchandise Mart then. That was not clear.”

Still, they knew they had a good location and set out to transform the asset, spending about $2.3 million.

“We recognized that this was a very well-built building in an up-and-coming neighborhood that had great potential in many areas,” said Jonathan Saliterman, co-founder of Randolph Street, a fully-integrated multi-family and mixed-use real estate operator and developer. “I think what differentiated our vision from other bidders on the project in 2013 was our desire to subdivide a large stack of units and relocate amenities.”

Scherer told Commercial Property Executive they broke up the three-bedroom condo units and made all one- and two-bedroom units ranging from about 920 to 940 square feet. They installed cabinets, fixtures and appliances in the unfinished units and moved the fitness room on the fourth floor to a non-revenue-generating ground-floor space off the lobby and turned the fourth floor area into apartments. The partners leased the ground-floor retail space to Athletico, a regional physical therapy practice.

The partners also bought back the four condos.

“That was a big part of solving the puzzle,” Scherer said, “so we could put it back together as a fee-simple, multi-family building.”

They had expected rents to range from $2.40 to $2.50 per square foot but were leasing at $2.80 to $2.90 at the time of the sale, he told Commercial Property Executive.

“We thought it would take longer to get there,” he said of the higher rents.

Scherer said when they were approached by the private investor to consider an off-market sale, he said they felt the price offered was in excess of what they thought the asset could potentially be worth at that time.

“It certainly made sense for us,” he said of the decision to sell.

Danny Spritz of Baum Realty represented the unidentified buyer.

Lux24 is the fifth deal Origin and Randolph Street have done in recent years, he said. Last fall, they bought another failed condo project, Iroquois Club in Naperville, Ill., for about $38 million. The previous owners had only sold about 26 of the 128 condos and were renting the remaining units. The partners bought a total of 238 units. Origin, a real estate investment firm that acquires office and apartment buildings in eight fast-growing markets like Chicago, funded its stake in Iroquois Club with equity from its second investment fund. It has also begun raising money from smaller, accredited investors through a crowdfunding platform it launched in the fall.

Scherer told Commercial Property Executive the Naperville multifamily complex was its first use of crowdfunding. Last month, Origin, which had previously been known as Origin Capital Partners, initiated a crowdfunding deal for investments in the Denver Corporate Center, an 11-story office building that Origin had purchased a majority interest in for $23 million.

Commercial Property Executive’s sister publication, Multi-Housing News, recently reported that Origin had formed a multi-year partnership with Aspen Heights Partners to co-develop multifamily properties throughout the United States.