Friedman Properties is giving a three-acre vacant lot with a checkered past near O’Hare International Airport another shot at development.
The Chicago-based developer again put the property that flanks the Kennedy Expressway three miles from O’Hare on the market, seeking a buyer willing to develop it or a tenant looking for development.
“We’ve got some activity on the site,” said Rob Graham, a CBRE broker. “We’ve got retailers, grocers, health clubs, medical office users taking a look at it. It’s such a unique site because of its location and the phenomenal branding it offers.”
The site is one of very few with a four-way interchange to the Kennedy and is one of a small number of vacant sites in the O’Hare market. It is zoned for dense planned development and sits adjacent to Friedman Property’s Springhill Suites hotel that Graham said offers flexibility by leveraging the two sites.
There’s no asking price on the property and nothing comparable has sold recently for valuation purposes. Friedman Properties, mostly known for the various redevelopments it has done in River North, paid $6.8 million when it bought the site out of bankruptcy in 2016. The Cook County Assessor’s Office estimated the market value at $2.68 million.
The site has a history of fraud and failed development opportunities tied to its previous owner. Anshoo Sethi, part of the Chicago Convention Center LLC, said he would develop a 995-room hotel on the site using a foreign investment program called EB-5 that gave visas to investors. The price tag on the project in 2011 was $912 million, according to published reports.
In 2013, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint alleging Sethi had bilked more than 250 mostly Chinese investors through “a large-scale investment scheme to exploit a federal visa program as a means to defraud investors seeking strong returns,” according to the complaint. The SEC alleged he sold $145 million in fraudulent securities and collected another $11 million in administrative fees.
In a settlement, the investors recouped about $147 million. But Sethi also was hit with a grand jury indictment that he eventually pleaded guilty to and was sentenced to three years in jail.