Chicago Crain's: Hubbard Inn owners buy Loop building

The restaurateurs behind the Hubbard Inn in River North and Barn & Co. in Lincoln Park have ventured into the Loop, but they're happy to be just a landlord there—at least for now.

A venture led by Carmen Rossi, Scott Cochrane and Kevin Killerman paid $3.5 million for a small retail-office building at 170 W. Washington St., according to property records.

The venture acquired the building Oct. 21 from Chicago-based Imperial Realty, said Daniel Knorps of Imperial, who represented the buyer and the seller.

Rossi, a Joliet-based lawyer known for creating his own restaurant concepts with business partner Killerman and Champaign investor Cochrane, said the group does not currently plan to open its own restaurant in the building. Their first focus will be renovating the office space on its upper floors, he said.

That's a change for this group of restaurant creators, who last year opened the beatnik-meets-“Mad Men” themed restaurant and bar Pomp & Circumstance in Old Town. Although the group typically owns the buildings where its restaurants operate, Rossi said this was the group's first foray into long-term real estate investment.

The 19,000-square-foot building, built in 1930, is empty except for its basement, occupied by Cardoza's Pub. Thai restaurant Ruby of Siam vacated a 3,800-square-foot first-floor space this summer.

“I think what will ultimately go in there is fast-casual,” Rossi said. “We've received quite a few letters of intent and a lot of interest has been placed . . . but we are still in the process of soliciting and accepting offers.”

Renovations on the upper-floor office space, which will include upgrades to the lobby area and façade and installing new windows, are set to be completed in 90 to 120 days, Rossi said.

He would not comment on the future of Cardoza's or the details of its lease.

“The space will stay a tavern,” Rossi said. “The uses will be what it was intended to be, and that is tavern (in the) basement, first-floor restaurant/retail, second-, third- and fourth-floor commercial.”

Imperial had owned the building since 1998, according to Cook County property records. Knorps said Imperial, which owns more than 100 buildings, mostly on the North Side, is shifting its focus more toward the northwest suburbs.

Knorps, who will stay on to broker leases in 170 W. Washington, said a national tenant will likely fill the first-floor restaurant space, which is expected to lease for about $75 per square foot.

Brian Laskov, managing broker at West Loop-based Kudan Group, said Chipotle-type fast-casual restaurants, where customers can come quickly grab food on their lunch break, are pouncing on vacant space in the Loop. He does not expect the first-floor space at 170 W. Washington to be empty for long.

“A ton of fast-casual restaurants want to be in the Loop,” he said. “I think every (restaurant) broker here in the office has someone looking for space in the Loop. There's a demand.”

Daniel Knorps