R2 sells Germania Club, venue for ‘Immersive Van Gogh’ show

The addition of Van Gogh exhibition just a few months ago, increased the value of the Germania Club. The show filled an upstairs ballroom once rented to a tenant who hosted weddings and other events there, but had struggled to pay rent.

Featuring massive screenings of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings, the art exhibit generated buzz and sold-out crowds, as well as a new source of revenue for the building. Lighthouse Immersive, the Toronto-based producer of the Van Gogh exhibit, has signed a five-year lease for its space and plans further shows there after the show ends, stabilizing the property’s revenue stream.

Built in 1888 as a social club for German immigrants, the building at 108 W. Germania Place is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is fully occupied, with other tenants including Lincoln Park Preschool and CorePower Yoga.

“The building is unique, the rental is unique,” said Danny Spitz, CEO and managing partner of Greenstone Partners, the Chicago-based brokerage firm that arranged the sale.

The property also offers a relatively safe investment with a steady return, a plus in a real estate market disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After a year of ambiguity and fear, investors flocked to cash flow assets,” Spitz said.

R2 CEO Matt Garrison said he was happy with the outcome, especially given how difficult it was to rent space during the pandemic. R2 had considered converting the Germania’s upper floors into creative offices, but changed their plans after contacting a broker for Lighthouse Immersive last year.

Now R2 is set to put another property up for sale, a 140,000 square foot former factory on Goose Island that it has converted into offices. The building at 1315 N. North Branch St. is 100% occupied, with tenants including CB2, Elite Staffing and Transportation One Logistics. R2 has hired Cushman & Wakefield to sell the building, which is expected to fetch more than $50 million, Garrison said.

R2 is also busy with a major redevelopment from the old Morton Salt Warehouse along the North Fork of the Chicago River. R2 and its partner, Chicago-based Blue Star Properties, are converting the building, known for its huge Morton Salt sign visible from the Kennedy Freeway, into a music and entertainment venue and research and development center for Morton Salt. Construction has begun, with an opening scheduled for next summer, Garrison said.

Alycia R. Lindley