The Wirtz family has owned the Evanston portfolio buildings for decades—more than 90 years, according to CrowdStreet—and hadn’t bought or sold many properties in its local portfolio over the years. Now overseen by Rocky Wirtz, chairman of the Chicago Blackhawks, the family’s real estate business includes apartments on Chicago’s North Side, the United Center, and a vintage office tower at Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive.
More recently, however, the family has been shrinking its Chicago holdings. In 2020 and 2021, for instance, Wirtz sold several apartment buildings on the North Side, including a 75-unit property at 2617-2625 W. Gunnison St. in Lincoln Square and an 81-unit building at 1209 W. Sherwin Ave. in Rogers Park.
“We are continuously managing our real estate investment portfolio,” a Wirtz spokesperson says in a statement. “We are also investing heavily in our core vintage Lake Shore Drive properties in Lakeview. The recent property sales are part of an overall strategy to divest some of our assets where it makes sense, while reinvesting in others and bringing new projects on line at the same time.”
With investors paying up for suburban apartments these days, the family is selling at a good time. High occupancies and rising rents have boosted property incomes and values, allowing many suburban landlords to sell their properties for hefty gains. The Wirtz portfolio also offers a rare opportunity for an investor to buy a lot of apartments in Evanston in one transaction, rather than on a piecemeal basis.
“Evanston has been the primary beneficiary of the challenges the residents of the city of Chicago have been facing, including the lack of affordability, public safety concerns and uncertainty around the city’s financial stability,” CrowdStreet says in marketing materials for the Evanston offering on its website. “Evanston offers residents an urban living experience with excellent walkability that many Chicago residents seek out at an attractive cost of living compared to the downtown market.”
A North Park executive declined to comment, saying it was premature to discuss the transaction because it hadn’t closed yet.
North Park is acquiring:
• A 41-unit building at 605-617 Hinman Ave.
• A 40-unit building at 800-810 Michigan Ave.
• A 26-unit building at 910-916 Judson Ave.
• An 18-unit property at 929-935 Michigan Ave.
• A 39-unit property at 1000-1010 Hinman Ave.