Shaker family puts 4 downtown buildings up for sale

Redevelopment not seen as likely outcome

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

The Shaker family has listed all four of its commercial and retail properties in downtown Oak Park for sale. The buildings are fully leased. The two larger buildings, each facing Lake Street at Marion Street, are quintessential downtown buildings, while the two Marion Street buildings are smaller single-story retail sites.

"We're testing the market in so far as the potential availability of these buildings. There's no urgency to selling the properties," said Anthony Shaker, the managing owner. "It's just a matter of we think the timing is right to see what we think the market price would be."

At 1100 Lake St. is the Shaker Building at three stories and 120,000 square feet. Among the office tenants on the upper floors is Shaker Recruitment Marketing, the core business over decades of the family which has deep roots in River Forest and Oak Park. A Potbelly is the most prominent retail tenant in 2020 but older residents will remember a large Barbara's Bookstore. Decades earlier the entire building housed a Montgomery Wards department store in an era when downtown Oak Park was lined with such regional stores.

Across Lake Street at 1101 is a four-story retail and office building now anchored by Lake Street Kitchen + Bar. In its earlier incarnation it was the Bonds clothing store. On North Marion Street at 122 and 124 are single-story retail buildings currently home to Jayne Boutique and Q Barbecue.

"The Shaker family have been investors in Oak Park for a very long time. They have probably been one of the top contributors to our property tax," said Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb.

While the mayor doesn't know the motiviations behind putting the properties up for sale, he understands that needs and desires shift over time.

"It's a family-owned business and sometimes there comes a time that they may have different priorities," Abu-Taleb said.

The mayor called the Shaker family "great investors in our community."

"I'm grateful for the investment they've had in Oak Park," Abu-Taleb said. "They work very hard to keep their retail spaces occupied which is helpful for us in terms of having a nice presence on the streets and also in terms of sales taxes."

Leases for some tenants in the buildings extend to 2026.

According to Shaker, the four buildings are owned through partnerships among his family members. Over the years, the family has received multiple inquiries about the properties.

"We've had so many inquiries, we finally figured, 'Well, if we got an acceptable price…,'" Shaker said.

The Shakers have not listed a price for the buildings. 

 "There's no price associated with the buildings. Since we've had inquiries over the last couple years, we're open to offers if someone were to come across with an acceptable price," Shaker said.

According to Shaker, the family is not looking to have the buildings sold for redevelopment.

 "That's not how we're marketing the buildings. The buildings are full," he said. "That is not part of our presentation, regarding development."

John Lynch, executive director of the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation (OPEDC), concurred, saying, "We don't see it as a redevelopment plan."

OPEDC isn't doing any marketing on behalf of the Shaker family or their properties.

"We tend to get more involved in the marketing if there are redevelopment issues," Lynch said.

Although Lynch said he talks to Shaker "pretty frequently," OPEDC does not foresee any major impacts to the downtown area as a result of the Shaker's plan to sell the properties.

"We look at this as an investment sale," Lynch said. "It's just a decision on the part of the Shakers to seek new ownership of the properties. Other than that, we don't expect any changes."

Shaker called the buildings "income-producing" due to their current 100 percent occupancy. The Shakers think it would be a good investment for someone to continue operating them as they have. They have marketed the four buildings as a package.

Shaker Management Company currently manages the buildings but that could change in the instance of a purchase.

"It would have to be subject to negotiation," Shaker said. "It's not part of the package."

However, the family would "certainly consider it."

Whether or not the Shaker family decides to accept an offer and sell the buildings, the mayor is thankful for their contribution to Oak Park.

"If they continue to invest, I'll be grateful and if they decide to bring in new investors, I'll also be grateful," Abu-Taleb said. "We're here to serve them and the people after them."

 

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Reader Comments

2 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Ray Simpson  

Posted: February 26th, 2020 7:49 PM

Gee Garett! I remember Monkey Wards being there and Marshall Fields down the street. I even seem to remember Golblatts in River Forest. To show my old age, My first job was with a city planning firm in Evanston. I did a parking survey of that area for the FIRST Lake Street Mall. I counted more cars than you can imagine.

Garett Auriemma  

Posted: February 26th, 2020 3:20 PM

"...but older residents will remember a large Barbara's Bookstore." Gee, thanks. (BTW, it only closed in 2010--it wasn't THAT long ago...)

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