Jeramey Jannene

Food Hall Planned for Downtown

Chicago group targeting two possible East Town sites for 20-stall food hall.

By - Feb 26th, 2021 09:06 am
733-737 N. Milwaukee St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

733-737 N. Milwaukee St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A new food hall could fill a long-vacant building at 733-737 N. Milwaukee St. Or it could be coming to a vacant riverfront building at 107-115 E. Wells St.

Kyle McKechnie, a Chicago-based real estate broker, filed two sets of identical plans with the Department of Neighborhood Services for pre-submittal review. The move is a precursor to a formal application.

A total of 20 stalls, each with individual kitchens, would be included according to a floor plan that matches the approximately 5,700-square-foot Milwaukee St. building. The basement of the building would be utilized for food storage and four of the food preparation spaces.

A conceptual operating plan submitted to city says the facility would be open from 10 a.m. to midnight daily. The plan says that no more than 40% of the restaurants would be open at a time for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Each restaurant would have its own kitchen. But unlike other food halls, customers would approach a shared front counter to order instead of visiting each stall. A 19-seat dining area would be included in the front of the space.

The total restaurant count could also be reduced because McKechnie anticipates the stalls being combined as needed. Each would be built out as a tenant is found.

The food hall concept has taken off across the country in the past five years and is used both as an incubator space for new restaurant concepts and a way for local restaurants to offer a satellite location in a high-traffic location. Unlike traditional food courts, food halls typically do not include national chains.

The East Town food hall comes as a large competitor, the 3rd Street Market Hall, prepares to open in Westown three years after first being announced.

But two others are already operating elsewhere in the city. And at least two more are on the way.

The Sherman Phoenix, 3536 W. Fond du Lac Ave., opened in 2018 in a former bank branch with a mix of food and commercial tenants. Crossroads Collective, 2238 N. Farwell Ave., followed shortly thereafter with exclusively food tenants on the city’s East Side.

A second former bank, this time at 5900 W. North Ave., is slated to become a food hall with the first tenants recently announced. And Crossroads operator New Land Enterprises plans to open a Bay View food hall, Flour & Feed, in its new KinetiK apartment building.

While the submitted floor plans with each review petition matches the Milwaukee Street building, the two-story building on E. Wells St., last home to China Gourmet, is of a similar scale. A covered patio is included in the property along the Milwaukee RiverWalk.

The two locations are just over three blocks apart and the market for either location is effectively the same and heavily reliant on downtown office workers.

“Given the location of the restaurant and proximity to public transit we anticipate 50% of consumers will arrive by foot or public transit,” says the application. “It is anticipated that the balance of the visitors will utilize the abundance of street parking and public parking garages.”

The operating plan lists three nearby parking garages that it is negotiating with for a long-term parking partnership.

F Street Group would sell its Milwaukee Street building to McKechnie’s group should his project advance. F Street acquired the one-story building in 2019 after it had already been vacant for more than a decade. Built in 1877, the building has the rare distinction of having lost floors since its construction. It was originally three stories.

My colleague Michael Horne profiled the Milwaukee Street building in his “What’s It Worth” column in November 2019.

The Wells Street building was to be demolished as part of an ambitious January 2016 plan that would have had a 16-story building rising on its small site. But those plans didn’t advance. A limited liability company controlled by Michael Olson and Peter Pacetti, owners of the adjacent City Hall Square apartments, acquired the property for $500,000 in November 2016.

Milwaukee Street Building

Wells Street Building

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us