It’s also the main reason why R2 sells: its work is done, and it’s time to reap its benefits and move on to the next project. An R2 joint venture is set to undertake a major redevelopment of the Morton Salt warehouse along the North Arm of the Chicago River. The developer is also working with Chicago restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff on a restaurant and entertainment project at a shipyard on Goose Island.
When R2 purchased the Germania building, the tenant hosting events on the third floor was struggling and behind on rent, R2 CEO Matt Garrison said. R2 considered converting the upper floors into creative offices, but changed gears after receiving a call from a broker for Lighthouse Immersive early last summer.
Lighthouse was initially interested in another R2 property, but R2 suggested the Germania building instead and gave Lighthouse a drone tour of the space, he said.
“We rented this during the height of COVID, when people weren’t leaving their homes, to a tenant that really makes people want to leave their homes,” Garrison said.
As more people shop online, hold Zoom business meetings from home, and binge-watch movies on their computers, many homeowners are looking to protect themselves from the digital disruption of today’s economy. Agreements with tenants like Lighthouse offer a solution.
“In a world that’s going digital and virtual, I think experience is going to be the new main street,” Garrison said. “The question is: how do you create an experience that makes the consumer want to leave the digital world and enter the physical world?”