Chicago’s Manna Capital lands expanding Modern Sprout

Tenant launched in 2013 consolidates into 39k sf space on Near West Side

Modern Sprout's Nick Behr and Sarah Burrows with 2145 West Grand Avenue (LinkedIn, Google Maps)
Modern Sprout's Nick Behr and Sarah Burrows with 2145 West Grand Avenue (LinkedIn, Google Maps)

Modern Sprout, a startup focused on providing materials for urban gardening setups, is expanding into 39,000 square feet on Chicago’s Near West Side, the Chicago Business Journal reported.

The lease is a win for Roy Blavvise’s Manna Capital Partners, a Chicago private equity firm started in 2008 as a real estate venture seeking distressed property through the Great Recession, according to its website. It owns the building at 2145 West Grand Avenue, purchased for $4.5 million last year from a trust managed by Parkway Bank and Trust Company, now leased to Modern Sprout, launched in 2013 by husband and wife Nick Behr and Sarah Burrows.

The tenant’s journey to the building that will serve as its production and office hub demonstrates the importance of real estate dedicated to incubating startups. The Chicago-based company started out in a 1,300-square-foot arrangement in the Kinzie Industrial Corridor with only contract employees and a plan to manufacture products and growing kits to make it easier for inner city apartment dwellers to start indoor and outdoor gardens. More recently, it had grown into 23,000 square feet in the corridor across multiple different spaces.

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“As the business has grown, we’ve been in a basement, rented a space off Craigslist and have been in a warehouse,” Behr told the publication, calling the new space “a bump up from where we were at in the incubator building, but that’s why the incubator is there. It gives them a leg up to get their business going.”

The lease is for a seven-year term and was struck after Modern Sprout doubled its revenue in 2021 and added employees.

— Sam Lounsberry

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A photo illustration of the planned building at 3817 North Ashland in the North Side neighborhood (top) along with the current restaurant at that site (bottom) (Getty Images, Google Maps, 360 Design Studio)
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