Valli Produce Bags $ 20 million in profits from the sale of Evanston Plaza

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EVANSTON, IL – The owners of Valli Produce recently sold the mall where their Evanston store is located for more than $ 20 million more than they paid less than six years earlier.

Bon Aviv Investments, a real estate investment firm based in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, paid $ 36.18 million for Evanston Plaza in a deal that closed on April 29, real estate records show of Cook County. As part of the sale, Valli will maintain its lease on the property.

The 16.35-acre mall on the southwest corner of Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue last changed hands in 2014, when Chicago-based Bonnie Investment Group sold it to Valli owners for $ 16 million.

Bonnie Investment bought the property for just $ 8.1 million in 2011 after it was subject to foreclosure proceedings under its former owner, Joseph Freed and Associates. Freed lost the spot after putting it as collateral to fund a failed Chicago project that ultimately collapsed amid a fraud scandal, with its former president sent to federal prison until a judge last year granted him humanitarian release during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2012, city council voted to make the mall the Dempster Dodge Tax Increment Funding District, or TIF, to divert property tax revenue resulting from the increase in the property’s land value to help with its redevelopment. .

But at the end of 2013, main tenant Dominick’s closed his grocery store at the mall. The following summer, its rental agent said Evanston Plaza was about 68% vacant.

After Valli Produce bought the property in 2014, city council agreed to grant it a $ 2 million rebate loan to help finance the cost of the square’s redevelopment.


Evanston City Council created a TIF neighborhood out of Evanston Plaza Shopping Center in 2012. (Town of Evanston)

The only vote against the loan deal was former 4th Ward Ald. Don Wilson, who also voted against the creation of the TIF district. He suggested that Bonnie was able to walk away with the money that should have been used to redevelop the site.

“It should be noted that the original buyer got the property at an auction for $ 8 million and traded it and sold it for $ 16 million,” Wilson said at the time. “This is the margin that maybe should have been used for development, so the idea that there was no money in the property for redevelopment, for me, falls flat.”

Valli opened in the square in July 2015 and was an immediate hit with residents.

In April 2019, Valli pledged $ 250,000 over 15 years to the Friends of Robert Crown Center nonprofit group to fund the creation of the city’s new community center in exchange for granting rights to the center’s lobby.

The property went on sale last year with an asking price of $ 39 million.

At a joint review committee meeting in December of representatives from all tax bodies covering the Dempster Dodge TIF district, city staff said the owners of Valli plan to use the money from the sale. to pay off mortgages on other properties, the Evanston Roundtable reported.

The TIF is currently scheduled to expire in 2025. Last year, the increase in property values ​​at the mall had generated more than $ 300,000 for the TIF fund since 2012, about 40 percent of that last year.

The property’s estimated market value in 2020 was around $ 17.75 million, according to the Cook County Appraiser’s Office.

According to property marketing materials from its new manager, A2Z Real Estate, based in Johnstown, Pa., There are only three vacant storefronts left in the mall.

The approximately 105,000 people who live within a 3 km radius of the mall have an average family income of $ 134,700, according to marketing materials.

Besides Valli, other major tenants include AutoZone, Blink Fitness, Dance Center Evanston, DaVita, Dollar Tree, Goodwill and Pet Supply Plus.



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