HIGHLAND PARK – The new owners of Highland Park’s Renaissance Place downtown shopping destination will allow leasing opportunities to health clubs, including Pilates or yoga studios, as well as other personal service-oriented businesses, thanks to a new city ordinance.
Before the new ordinance was passed at the May 8 City Council meeting, the new owners of Renaissance Place, Tabani Group, submitted a letter to the city’s Plan & Design Commission with a proposal to “broaden the definition of retail.”
In a March 24 letter to the City of Highland Park, the Tabani Group said the term retail in the 1998 city ordinance was restrictive, and that Renaissance Place is at a competitive disadvantage in downtown Highland Park.
“The ordinance amending the special use is to relieve the development of stated use restrictions that do not coincide with the Pedestrian Oriented Shopping Overlay district (POSO) uses,” said Joel Fontane, director of community development, at the May 8 City Council meeting. He added that the development is more restricted in its use selection for the ground floor than the POSO, and that both the second floor and first floor were further restricted by the development agreement that was adopted prior to the POSO.
The Tabani Group, a Dallas-based commercial real estate company, purchased Renaissance Place on February 17. Zaffar Tabani founded the company in 1981. It has an estimated portfolio exceeding $1 billion, with more than 10 million square feet of real estate nationwide, including the Glen Town Center in Glenview.
The Tabani Group manager of acquisitions and development is a Glencoe native with an office in Lincolnwood.
Renaissance Place, established in 2000, comprises retail space, offices and apartments totaling 221,789 square feet. The site also has a movie theater and an underground parking garage. At the time of the listing, the retail and office space in the mall separate from the space formerly occupied by Saks, which closed in 2012, was 90 percent leased, and the 32 one- and two-bedroom apartments were 96 percent leased.
Existing tenants include Alixandria Collection, Jos A Bank, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, Starbucks, and others.
Tabani plans to reposition the property via multiple improvements, including possible zoning and building changes at the former Saks site for commercial and/or residential use, according to the City of Highland Park.
On March 2, Crain’s Chicago Business reported that “Seattle-based Metzler, the North American unit of German bank Bankhaus Metzler, sold Renaissance Place for just $32.7 million, about 38 percent less than the $53.1 million it paid for the property in December 2006, county records show. The price is also less than the roughly $42 million in debt that Metzler carried on the property, a loan it took out in 2006 from another Metzler unit. County records show Metzler paid off the debt after selling the property to Tabani.”
The Tabani Group’s proposal to amend the 1998 city ordinance was first reviewed at an April 5 Plan & Design Commission hearing. Fontane said the new owner wanted to “increase the flexibility with which he is repositioning this building. The crux of this change is enabling Renaissance Place to avail itself of the uses that are already allowed otherwise in the POSO to other properties.”
In a City of Highland Park press release, Business Development Manager Carolyn Hersch said, “The 48,000-square-foot two-story space formerly occupied by Saks represents an exciting repositioning opportunity for the Tabani Group. The mayor, council and city staff have met with the Tabani Group to discuss the city’s master plan and potential opportunities to revitalize the site.”