The century-old office building at 1400 West Fulton Street was not considered a prime piece of real estate when Aries Capital CEO Neil Freeman acquired it in 2014. But after Campbell Street Asset Management bought into the property, the 33,000-square-foot building with 27 office condos underwent a gut-level renovation. Things now look different for the building at the intersection of Fulton and Ogden avenues, an area that has seen a surge of interest this year.
Last month, a venture that includes Belgravia Group founder Buzz Ruttenberg paid $10.5 million for about half the units in the three-story building, according to Cook County property records. NARE Group principal Savas Er and Newmark Knight Frank executive managing director Joel Simmons are also part of the group. Schaumburg Bank & Trust Company provided a $7.4 million acquisition loan. Er is a member of the bank’s board of directors, according to Bloomberg. He separately paid $870,000 to buy another five units in the building earlier this year, records show.
“Now and then you get lucky, being in the right area,” Freeman said. “A lot of people thought you couldn’t go west of Ogden, and they were wrong.”
The 111-year-old building had been a warehouse until 2008, when a group of developers including Naperville-based Thomas McWilliams converted it into offices and sliced it into a patchwork of commercial condos.
But the developers took on too much debt following the recession, sticking them with a property that was “mostly vacant and not in good condition,” Freeman said.
Freeman’s independent venture bought the developers’ debt in 2014 and took over the deed later that year. Cook county records pegged the debt around $1.7 million, but the property’s true value was “substantially higher,” Freeman said. He would not say how much he paid for the property.
Campbell Street later bought into the building as an equity partner. The firm still owns the commercial condo where its office is based inside the building.
The new owners spent several million dollars on a gut-level renovation and brought its occupancy above 95 percent, Freeman said. Its largest tenant is Eyas Landing, a behavioral clinic for children and teens.
By the time Freeman bought the property in 2014, developers like Sterling Bay and Shapack Partners had already descended on the east half of Fulton Market, where the Morgan CTA station had opened two years earlier. But the area west of Racine Avenue, where the building stands, was on fewer investors’ radars.
That is not the case today. Dallas-based developer Trammell Crow is underway on construction of its 14-story West End on Fulton office complex across the street. And Marquette Companies announced Thursday that it plans to build three apartment complexes combining for more than 500 units around 1400 West Randolph Street.