The luxury condo building District House – the 28-unit mixed-use development taking the place of Tasty Dog at Lake and Euclid – is on schedule to be open early next year, but its developer, Ranquist Development Group, already is setting its sights on the Oak Park Arts District for its next Oak Park project.
Ranquist has formed a partnership with Harrison Street Ventures to not only build a four-unit residential development along Harrison but to help steer a new strategy for marketing and leasing the troubled commercial properties long held by Chris Kleronomos.
Kleronomos lost six buildings – many of them long vacant — to foreclosure in the arts district during the recession. In 2015, the newly formed Harrison Street Ventures gained control of the properties but has had limited success in marketing them since.
Kleronomos maintains a minority position in the properties – the size of which has not been disclosed – and does not have decision-making authority in their redevelopment, Harrison Street principal Mona Navitsky said in late 2015. Navitsky could not be reached for comment for this story.
Flexhouse Oak Park
The Ranquist proposal would demolish a portion of the building at 200-210 W. Harrison St. – purchased by Harrison Street in 2015 for $175,000 – to make room for four modern row homes that are listed at $539,900. The two buildings that bookend the property to the east and west will be preserved and restored.
The 3-story Flexhouse residences would be about 2,400 square feet each and include three bedrooms, two and a half baths, a two-car garage and a backyard.
Ranquist partnered with real estate firm Campbell Coyle on the District House project and again is working with the group on Flexhouse.
Campbell Coyle President Chris Dillion said the new construction will be a catalyst for business development in the arts district. “It’s bringing in new people and new families who are invested in the revitalization of the arts district,” he said.
Bob Ranquist, principal of Ranquist Development, told Wednesday Journal in early 2016 that his firm was looking for other opportunities in Oak Park. Turns out Ranquist didn’t have to look far.
Harrison Street Ventures contacted Ranquist Development because of the firm’s success on the District House project, Ranquist said.
As with District House, Ranquist and Campbell Coyle are bringing an innovative approach to the Harrison Street project, Dillion said.
The Flexhouse homes will be truly flexible in that they can be designed to serve as live-work spaces to include a ground-level studio space, for example, according to Dillion. “We’re really trying to emphasize that we are in the arts district and the demands might be a little different from what you’d see from a typical residential area,” he said.
Dillion said the project is still in its infancy but the units are already listed on residential property sales websites.
Ranquist and Campbell Coyle representatives made a presentation on the development to the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation (OPEDC) earlier this month. OPEDC is a quasi-governmental organization paid by the village to attract and retain business.
Dillion said the development team does not intend to seek any kind of financial incentive from the village, such as a tax rebate, for the project.
He said they will soon hold a meeting to present the proposal to the public, but a date has not been set.
Flexhouse is meant to be a “catalyst” for development in the arts district, according to Dillion, but Ranquist and Campbell Coyle are also working to rebrand the remaining Kleronomos properties.
It has been a year and a half since Harrison Street Ventures purchased the Kleronomos buildings, and the real estate investment company still is working to lease the commercial properties. Most recently Harrison Street Ventures secured leases with MORA Asian Fusion restaurant at 201 Harrison St. and Nature Yoga at 146-148 Harrison St.
Ranquist notes that commercial spaces are still available at the spaces that bookend the Flexhouse project at 200 and 210 Harrison St. Those two spots are listed at 1,300 square feet. Four other spaces on the south side of the street – at 207, 211 215 and 221 Harrison St. – range in size from 1,700 to 6,150 square feet.
Dillion said the Ranquist development team is working with Philadelphia-based architecture and urban design firm ISA to develop a “tactical toolkit” to enhance the exterior of the properties. The toolkit will incorporate lighting, paint, signage and other exterior finishes that create a sense of place that reflects the art district aesthetic, Dillion said.
The goal is to attract arts-related businesses and restaurants to the area, according to Dillion.