The mixed-use building at 7321 Madison St. is up for sale – and Andy Sokol, the sales agent for the property, said he’s keeping his options open.
The sale comes after owner Mark Hosty spent several months trying to rent out the space that was used by Forest Park Tap Room bar before Mayor Rory Hoskins declined to renew its liquor license. Butter & Brown Bistro restaurant is still open in the other half of the commercial space. Sokol told the Review that ICOMM, an IT consulting business, occupies the second floor of the 23,000 square foot building. He said there are already some interested buyers, but he declined to elaborate any further, citing non-disclosure agreements.
The vacant space long housed Healy’s West Side, a restaurant and bar, which was managed by Hosty. Hosty is a former Forest Park village commissioner. He now lives in River Forest.
Whether any of the possible buyers follow through, Sokol believes that the large commercial spaces and its prominent location on the Madison Street corridor, on the northeast corner of the Circle Avenue intersection, would make it a good draw for Chicago restaurants looking to set up shop in a more affordable rental space without losing the customer traffic. But if that doesn’t work out, he would be open to selling it as an investment property. Sokol believes it is unlikely the buyer would want to demolish the building, but he did not rule out a buyer trying to end the existing tenants’ leases early.
While it was open, Forest Park Tap Room faced multiple complaints about loud music, fights and violating COVID-19 mitigation limits in place at the time. While Butter & Brown hasn’t entirely avoided the blotter, the issues were relatively minor and mostly ended in warnings.
Last summer, Hosty told the Review that he would not speak to any of its staff under any circumstances. Sokol, on the other hand, answered the Review’s questions in detail.
“We’re very excited to sell it,” he said. “I grew up going to that place as a college kid. It’s certainly a big, beautiful building on Madison.”
“I have a few people who are doing their due diligence and running their numbers about purchasing [the building],” he said. The building is listed at $3.3 million. A drawback is a lack of on-site parking though there is a village-owned parking lot across Circle Avenue.
Sokol said that, generally speaking, a space like this might be attractive to restaurant owners who get a ready-made space and other tenants to bring in extra income.
“An owner-occupant would buy it, maybe a restaurant group getting into the suburbs, so they’d want to occupy it, and enjoy having other tenants pay for the mortgage and the taxes and stuff,” he said.
Sokol said that “There’s been interest from local restaurant people as well as downtown [Chicago] restaurant people,” but that he wouldn’t be adverse to selling it to a health system.
The other possibility, Sokol said, is that someone would buy it under the 1031 exchange, a federal tax code loophole that lets property sellers avoid paying a capital gains tax on the profit they made by buying a similar type of property of equal or greater value. In situations like this, the purchasers usually simply collect rent and hire a property manager and leave it to them to maintain the building and bring in potential tenants.
Finally, there is a possibility that someone might buy the building as an investment property – something that, Sokol said, he would be open to as well.
Whoever the buyer may be, Sokol said that he was confident that someone would snap it up.
“You don’t find many 23,000 square foot buildings in Forest Park,” he said. “If Forest Park continues to hopefully grow, business will come back and creative people would want to put spaces in there, because it’s a beautiful space, it’s a cool loft-looking space. The basement has high ceilings. [The building] is a tank. It’s a super-strong, well-kept building, and someone will take it.”