File photo | William Camargo

The saga of the long-vacant storefronts along Harrison Street in the Oak Park Arts District, once owned by Chris Kleronomos, took a new turn last month with the new owners terminating their contract with Oak Park leasing agent David King.

Residents have spent decades working to get the buildings out of the hands of Kleronomos and back on the market. Kleronomos lost majority ownership of the buildings in foreclosure in 2015, when they were purchased by Harrison Street Ventures, a limited liability corporation established last year.

Harrison Street Ventures put the six commercial properties, which run along Harrison between Lyman and Harvey avenues, back on the market for lease and hired King in early 2016 to begin marketing them.

But Mona Navitsky, a partner and asset manager with Harrison Street, told Wednesday Journal that Harrison Street Ventures chose to not renew its contract with King to market the properties. She also said the owners are now entertaining the possibility of selling the properties and “contemplating a new strategic plan,” but did not give details.

She said they are not actively marketing the buildings for sale, but have been approached by those interested in purchasing some of the properties.

King could not immediately be reached for comment.

Laura Maychruk – owner of Buzz Café in the arts district, president of the Oak Park Arts District business association and a local real estate broker – said she was approached by Harrison Street Ventures representatives about a month ago and asked to take over for King.

Maychruk has been a vocal opponent of leasing the buildings after it was learned in late 2015 that Kleronomos still has a minority ownership stake in the properties. It was never revealed what Kleronomos’ ownership of the properties amounts to, but Navitsky told Wednesday Journal in November 2015 that it was small enough that it was a “non-decision making interest.”

Maychruk, working under Oak Park-based real estate firm Gullo & Associates, said she originally declined the offer to try to lease the properties because of the continued Kleronomos connection.

Maychruk and others have argued that the vacancies and deteriorating state of some of the Kleronomos properties have stalled business development in the district for decades.

Though Maychruk declined the job of trying to lease the properties, she said she agreed to try to help Harrison Street Ventures sell them.

“I have buyers who are interested, and I have shown the properties,” she said, declining to divulge which properties have attracted potential buyers.

Maychruk said she believes the price per square foot for the properties was too high – at one point they were being marketed at approximately $30 to $35 per square foot.

Navitsky said the buildings were being marketed on LoopNet, a real estate listings website, but the properties could not be immediately located on the site.

She said there still is interest from some tenants in leasing some of the properties “but it’s premature to announce anything.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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