Crain’s Chicago

Apartments coming to Salvation Army site on West Side

One of the busiest apartment developers in the city is cooking up another deal on a Salvation Army property in West Town.

Chicago-based Cedar Street has agreed to buy the property at Ashland Avenue and Monroe Street, where it plans a mix of apartments and retail space, Cedar Street Managing Partner Alex Samoylovich confirmed.

Covering more than half a city block, the 3.1-acre site at 1515 W. Monroe St. was the longtime home of the Salvation Army’s Freedom Center community center and housing complex, which recently moved to Humboldt Park. Cedar Street plans to both build anew and redevelop some of the existing buildings on the property.

Developers who looked at the property estimated Cedar Street is paying at least $20 million for the site. Samoylovich declined to disclose a price.

Cedar Street, which is closing on the acquisition in October, hasn’t decided how many apartments it will build there, Samoylovich said.

“We plan on meeting with the alderman and community groups to see what the highest and best use would be,” he said.

Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), whose ward includes the property, did not return a call.

The apartment development boom, which started several years ago, is gaining momentum in the city as buildings keep filling up and rents keep breaking records. Cedar Street, which owns about 4,500 apartments on the North Side and downtown, has been especially active, specializing in the conversion of older buildings into apartments. Projects in the works downtown include a redevelopment of the Bush Temple of Music building in River North and a conversion of an office building at 676 N. LaSalle St. into 114 apartments.

The Salvation Army property is a bit off the beaten path, well west of the downtown apartment market’s sweet spot. But it’s in an emerging neighborhood, just a few blocks east of the United Center, that could become more attractive to renters as downtown landlords keep hiking rents.

“Most of the recent development is as far west as Racine-ish, so this is going to push the envelope further west,” said Ron DeVries, vice president at Appraisal Research Counselors, a Chicago-based consulting firm. The project will “provide an anchor to the west end of the West Loop.”

Samoylovich also believes the development will benefit from job growth in the West Loop, an emerging destination for technology firms since Google decided to move its Chicago offices there. He declined to disclose what Cedar Street is paying for the Salvation Army property.

The parcel includes three buildings totaling 212,000 square feet, according to a flyer from Colliers International, the brokerage hired to sell it. Colliers Principal Michael Senner declined to comment.

Crain’s Chicago | Alby Gallun