Developer plans new West Loop “community” of offices, apartments and condos

Crayton Advisors is looking to buy and build nearly 800K sf of office space in Greektown, plus 42 new condos
By Alex Nitkin |
Research by Jerome Dineen
May 22, 2019 02:00PM

From left: 322 South Green Street (top) and 850 West Jackson Boulevard (bottom), John Abell and a rendering of Milieu on the Park

From left: 322 South Green Street (top) and 850 West Jackson Boulevard (bottom), John Abell and a rendering of Milieu on the Park

Crayton Advisors is cooking up a plan to massively expand its tight cluster of office and multifamily properties in the West Loop’s Greektown district.

The firm, which owns four low-rise buildings near the corner of Jackson Boulevard and Halsted Street under its V.Collective office brand, plans to acquire two nearby office buildings and build two more, according to Crayton Managing Partner John Abell.

They would join the 275-unit Milieu on the Park apartment complex Crayton is co-developing with White Oak Realty Partners at 835 West Adams Street, plus a new 42-unit condo building Crayton envisions for a parking lot across the street at 220 South Peoria Street.

One new office building is set to be proposed this year for an empty lot at 310 South Green Street, adjacent to the existing V.Collective building at 322 South Green. It would stretch 10 stories tall, with 165,000 square feet of space.

Abell did not identify the sites of the two existing office buildings he’s eyeing for acquisition, which combine for some 410,000 square feet of space, nor the location of the additional 212,000-square-foot office project he plans to build. But all of the projects would be close enough to join the V.Collective “community” of workspaces in the immediate area, he said.

The developer’s “long-term accumulation strategy” took another step forward earlier this month, when Crayton secured a $39 million loan on a pair of eight-story office buildings it owns at 820 and 850 West Jackson Boulevard, according to Abell and Cook County property records.

Crayton took out the five-year loan in order to see through the “capital improvement and amenity package” it’s creating across the buildings, Abell said.

Abell, a former vice president at Draper & Kramer and The Sterling Company, began cultivating his Greektown office portfolio in June 2015, when his firm paid about $30 million to acquire a the brick low-rises at 833 West Jackson and 322 South Green from Chicago-based Urban Innovations.

Months later, Crayton paid $18 million to pick up the converted packaging warehouse at 820 West Jackson from Marc Realty Capital. And in late 2016, Crayton bought the eight-story office building at 850 West Jackson for about $13 million, again from Marc Realty.

The acquisitions were funded in part by the west suburban Vaccaro family, whose office Abell manages. Andrew Vaccaro is listed as the manager of the Crayton entities that bought three of the four office buildings.

V.Collective is preparing to welcome Keeper Security later this year to 820 West Jackson, where the cybersecurity firm signed a 16,000-square-foot lease. Keeper’s lease brings the four-building portfolio to 96 percent occupancy, Abell said.

The landlord has spent the past four years outfitting the buildings with rooftop decks, bike storage and a Kastle security system. Tenants can access amenities across the entire portfolio.

The proposed condo building on Peoria would fall inside one of three affordability “pilot zones” created in 2017, meaning it would have to market at least 20 percent of units below market rate. It also barely fits within the borders of the 25th Ward, whose new alderman, Byron Sigcho-Lopez, has called for raising the threshold to 30 percent for new residential developments in some areas.

The Crayton plan “will certainly comply with all the current ordinances in place,” Abell said.

Sigcho-Lopez did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.