New owner, renovations, bring Evanston shopping plaza back from brink

GW Properties boosted occupancy since buying the complex in November

Chicago /
Feb.February 16, 2022 08:00 AM

Church Street Plaza (Google Maps, Getty)

Seven leases reduced vacancies at a shopping plaza in downtown Evanston to 8 percent from 50 percent in November, when GW Properties closed on the three-building complex, a sign that retail may be starting to get its swagger back.

AMC Movie Theaters, Sky Zone and Cycle Bar were among tenants that signed leases at Church Street Plaza since December, according to CBRE, which brokered the deals. GW removed six theaters from an 18-plex in the main building’s second floor and combined it with space vacated last year by Urban Outfitters. That created 30,000 square feet suitable for Sky Zone, an indoor trampoline chain.

“The makeup and layout of the various spaces in the building were somewhat restrictive for tenants active on the market today,” said Mitch Goltz, a GW principal. “We thought we had the tools at our disposal to put the right tenants and improvements in the property.”

Goltz declined to say how much each tenant is paying or how long their leases run.

The additions came as residential demand surges in the suburb, home to Northwestern University. A 175-unit apartment building recently sold for $71.3 million, the priciest multifamily deal in two years.

“Evanston as a market has experienced extraordinary rent growth due to outsized demand and unique qualities with urban/suburban amenities, proximity to Northwestern University, Lake Michigan and both Metra and CTA train lines,” Kevin Girard, senior director of JLL, the brokerage hired to sell the property, told The Real Deal at the time.

Church Street Plaza, at 1715 Maple Avenue, totals 180,000 square feet. The seven leases amount to 115,000 square feet. Goltz said the property is down to 10,000 square feet of vacant space.

Northwestern Medicine was the only one of the seven that’s renewing a lease. The others were Belong Gaming, Big Wig Taco and Semper Laser. The plaza caters to the dense residential area nearby and Northwestern students.





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