Jerry Reinsdorf-backed firm buys lot near United Center

The land was flipped for nearly double what it sold for earlier this year

White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and the property at the southeast corner of West Warren Boulevard and North Paulina Street in Chicago (Google Maps, Getty)
White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and the property at the southeast corner of West Warren Boulevard and North Paulina Street in Chicago (Google Maps, Getty)

A firm backed by Chicago Bulls and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is setting its sights on the Near West Side.

An LLC with ties to Michigan Avenue Real Estate Group’s leaders bought a vacant parcel for $5.5 million at the southeast corner of West Warren Boulevard and North Paulina Street, a person with knowledge of the deal said.

The buyer also has ties to Reinsdorf’s longtime right-hand man — Howard Pizer. The duo’s connection dates all the way back to when Reinsdorf formed Balcor Co. in 1973, which he later sold to American Express in 1987.

The property is within two blocks of the Bulls’ and Blackhawks’ home, the United Center. The lot was sold by a group of developers with Irish roots who bought it back in February for $3.5 million. The initial plan was to build a handful of homes that would have been expensive for the neighborhood, but not unreasonable for the Chicagoans who are being priced out of the nearby West Loop, where property values are swelling due to a wave of new apartment developments.

The former owners were asking for around $250 per square foot on the half-acre site. It proved to be a tough sell at first with a rate that was much higher than other development properties in the neighborhood, according to 21 Century broker Steven Powers.

The Reinsdorf-backed group clearly saw an opportunity and moved on it. It paid just $3 per square foot less than the owner’s initial asking price for the parcel.

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It borders another half-acre vacant parcel for sale along Madison Street. The price on that listing has not been disclosed. It is being marketed by Oxford Real Estate’s George Manos, who did not return a request for comment.

“The sellers found a great development opportunity and were met with a much more intriguing flip opportunity,” Powers said. “It just goes to show the development that’s coming to the Near West Side.”

It’s unclear what the buyer plans to do with the property or how much it could spend on an assemblage. Tom Meador, also a longtime Reinsdorf partner who led Michigan Avenue, did not return a request for comment.

What is clear to Powers, however, is that whatever is developed on the property will be at a larger scale than the few homes his client intended to build there. That’s the only way the selling price makes economic sense, the broker suggested.

Just to the east on the same block, Michigan Avenue developed the 52-unit Warren and Ashland apartments, which was completed in 2015, according to Yardi Matrix. In 2020, it expanded even farther west into Chicago’s bordering suburb of Oak Park. In that village’s downtown at 435 to 451 Madison Street, the firm’s project was scaled back at the request of neighbors and officials before gaining a required zoning variance to build 42 apartments, cut from the 48 it first sought for the site.

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