Crain’s Chicago Business

Wicker Park getting 1,300 new units—of self-storage

Two local developers are betting big on the growing number of Wicker Park-area residents needing more space for their stuff. .

In the latest addition to the evolving Wicker Park Commons retail center, Cedar Street Capital and JSM Venture are converting two loft office buildings into a mixed-use facility dominated by 1,300 self-storage units.

Cedar Street and JSM paid $14.9 million in December to acquire several floors of mostly empty space atop the retail portion of the shopping center from Chicago-based Centrum Partners. They say they invested nearly $6 million more to build out the climate-controlled storage space and opened the facility this month with operator Extra Space Storage.

Chicago-based Cedar Street, which specializes in the apartment market, and self-storage expert JSM, based in Northfield, saw unmet demand for storage units in the area because of an influx of apartment development in Wicker Park.

The area within one mile of the site added more than 1,100 households between 2010 and 2016, according to a CBRE appraisal commissioned by the developers. “And there really aren’t any competitors for a mile and a half,” said Cedar Street Managing Partner Will Murphy.

“There’s a younger, mobile and kind of growing pool of renters” in the neighborhood, said JSM President John Mengel. “Renters with relative affluence that tend to be not married and move a lot—those are all predictors of demand or need for self-storage.”

The historic four-story building at 1279 N. Milwaukee Ave.—a former Wieboldt’s department store—had been mostly empty in recent years other than a mix of retail tenants on the ground floor including a Mattress Firm, Potbelly Sandwich Shop and Pet Supplies Plus.

The 21,000 square feet of loft office space on the top floor will remain. The redevelopment includes 92,000 square feet of rentable self-storage space between the Milwaukee Avenue building and an adjoining building at 1300 N. Ashland Ave.

The Ashland building, on track to be completed next month, will house the bulk of the storage space and a drive-in loading area.

The self-storage project is the latest addition to the urban infill shopping center anchored by a Jewel-Osco and Lowe’s. After acquiring the former Joseph Freed & Associates property for $33 million in 2011, Centrum rebranded the parcel on the south end of the Milwaukee Avenue shopping corridor as Wicker Park Commons and overhauled both the buildings and its mix of tenants. It sold the retail portion of the site—including the Jewel and Lowe’s— for $95 million in 2015 to a unit of Deutsche Bank.

Crain’s Chicago Business | Danny Ecker

Click here for more info on the Wicker Park commons led by CEDARst Capital and JSM Venture.