By Micah Maidenberg | January 21, 2015 | Crain’s Chicago Business
The Wrigley Building, long known for gum, soon will be known for chocolate.
Ghirardelli Chocolate agreed to open a shop in about 7,000 square feet in the south tower of the building, at 400-410 N. Michigan Ave., said Ari Glass, executive vice president of Zeller Realty Group, a Chicago real estate company that’s part of the property’s ownership group.
Ghirardelli’s lease gives the company a visible outpost to reach the throngs of shoppers and tourists prowling the Mag Mile. The company also gets what’s essentially a billboard to showcase its brand and products, a trend that’s brought retail tenants to the street for years.
“Some of these things seem to me to work better for companies like Ghirardelli,” a well-known firm with a big presence in many markets, said Rich Labriola, the Chicago doughnut store operator and restaurateur who’s opening a new Mag Mile restaurant this month. “It’s a good marketing tool. They can make a better go of it than someone who needs to survive on the business alone because rents are so pricey there. To make a good profit on that can be a difficult task.”
The chocolate and ice cream store will include about 1,300 square feet of ground-floor space, including frontage on Michigan Avenue and inside the plaza that splits the two towers, according to Glass. The remainder of the shop will be above the valuable street-level areas, where the rents can hit $400 per square feet and higher.
A Ghirardelli spokeswoman could not be reached yesterday. Founded in 1852, the San Leandro, Calif.-based company produces a wide range of chocolate items, from candy bars with sea salt to 10-ounce jars of fudge sauce.
The firm has 23 chocolate and ice cream stores in various shopping districts and outlet centers around the country, according to its website, where customers can order desserts like a $9.95 hot fudge sundae to the $37.95 “Earthquake” sundae with eight scoops of ice cream and other toppings.
Most are in California, though there’s one at 830 N. Michigan Ave., a store that will stay open, according to a spokeswoman for the Wrigley Building owners.
“It’s just an iconic American brand. It felt like a great fit for something like the Wrigley Building,” Glass said. “That coupled with . . . their whole feel and everything they do with their stores is keeping with everything we’ve done with the renovation. We think it will enhance the property as a great destination for office tenants that continue to lease there as well as for the general neighborhood.”
OTHER RETAIL TENANTS
He declined to comment on lease terms. The deal means the first- and second-floor retail spaces in the Wrigley Building are fully leased except for 7,000 square feet in the south tower, Glass added. The other retail tenants are a 32,000-square-foot Walgreens pharmacy and the Joel Oppenheimer art gallery in the north tower and a forthcoming Peet’s Coffee & Tea in the south tower. There are also below-grade areas that the Wrigley landlord may seek to lease to retailers over time.
The building’s owners, which include Zeller, Chicago-based BDT Capital Partners and Groupon co-founders Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, paid $33 million for the property about four years ago.
Since then the ownership venture has carried out an extensive remake of the landmark building and signed office and retail tenants.
Greg Kirsch, executive managing director in the Chicago office of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, led a team at the brokerage that handled the Ghirardelli lease for the Wrigley Building’s owners.
David Goldberg of Conlon & Co. represented the chocolatier.
The new Ghirardelli store is expected to open on Memorial Day.