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Developer of Moxy Hotel in Chicago’s River North Buys Former Midas Shop Next Door

After building Chicago’s first Moxy hotel next door, well-known River North developer Friedman Properties has bought the site of a former Midas auto shop, which could become the latest low-rise in the city to give way to construction cranes.

Friedman Properties late last month paid just over $4 million for the 8,638-square-foot site at 158 W. Grand Ave., according to NAI Miami brokers who represented the seller, Midas parent TBC Corp.

It’s unclear what the Chicago developer plans to do with the site, or the 4,318-square-foot former Midas building on it. The site’s zoning would allow for an approximately 60,500-square-foot development, NAI Miami broker Jeremy Larkin told CoStar News.

Friedman Properties’ chairman and CEO, Al Friedman, did not respond to a request for comment from CoStar News.

His firm previously built the eight-story, 156-room Moxy Chicago Downtown hotel on a similarly sized site next door at 530 N. LaSalle St. That hotel, developed with Indiana-based White Lodging Services, opened in 2018.

Friedman has decades of experience buying and developing offices, hotels, retail and other properties in the area just north of Chicago’s Loop business district, which led to him being nicknamed “mayor of River North.” It’s possible he bought the development site without a specific plan in hand.

“We marketed it across the country and the guy next door buys it,” Larkin said. “It happens more often than you’d think.

“When I first got into the industry, a mentor told me you always follow the rule of fives. He said you start with the property you’re selling and go five properties in either direction, and you have a 50 to 75% chance you’ll find a buyer.”

Friedman’s other River North properties include the landmark Medinah Temple at 600 N. Wabash Ave., where Chicago plans to have a temporary casino while the city’s permanent facility is built north of there along the Chicago River. In another recent deal, New York-based The Group plans to bring French concept La Grande Boucherie and a smaller Japanese restaurant to a Friedman-owned building previously rented to Ruth’s Chris Steak House at 431 N. Dearborn St.

If Friedman knocks down the Midas building and builds on the site, it would continue a trend of gas stations, auto repair stations, parking garages, surface lots and other low-slung properties that have been replaced by taller structures during a construction boom in and around the Loop since the end the Great Recession.

In fact, Friedman’s Moxy project next door was on a lot where a service station once stood.

About a half-mile east of there, Mavrek Development, GW Properties and Luxury Living Chicago have begun demolishing a parking garage at 535 N. St. Clair St., where they will then construct a 21-story, 248-unit apartment building.

About a half-mile to the west, the Habitat Company and Diversified Real Estate Capital this week broke ground on a 33-story, 343-unit apartment tower. They recently demolished the 120-year-old Cassidy Tire building, which for decades had been a tire retail and auto service facility on the site near the river.

Farther north of the Loop, developer Fern Hill wants to demolish two gas stations it has acquired alongside The Moody Church as part of a multitower North Side development that would be designed by globetrotting architect David Adjaye.

Midas decided to sell the River North site after its lease for the building to a franchisee expired, said Jonelle Compiani, a spokeswoman for Palm Beach Gardens, Florida-based TBC. The Midas shop closed at the end of January, she said in an email.

TBC previously has cashed in on similar properties where property values have risen and developers are seeking land, including in Miami and Seattle, Larkin said.

Brokers were hired to sell the Chicago parcel in the spring, before rising interest rates, inflation and worries of a recession began to push down sale prices throughout the country, he said. Because of high demand in River North and a well-established buyer, the price stayed within the previously expected price range, Larkin said.

“In the right submarket at the right time with the right people, deals will continue to happen, but I think the cycle’s kind of over,” Larkin said. “You’re seeing economic activity start to slow, you’re seeing layoffs and the economy is a bit more dormant.

“In Miami, we’ve seen explosive growth slow to what we’d consider normal growth. The buyer frenzy has stopped but there are still a ton of deals moving along. There’s just not that insanity out there.”

For the Record

The seller was represented by NAI Miami brokers Larkin and Joseph Gallagher, and Chicago-based ARC Real Estate Group brokers Elan Rasansky and Al Rodenbostel.