On Monday morning, April 13, 1992, basements of old downtown Chicago commercial buildings mysteriously began filling with water. Unbeknownst to these building owners, an old underground system of railroad delivery tunnels had been punctured by a crew working on pilings on the Chicago River. Before it was done, an estimated 250 million gallons of water from the Chicago River had flooded scores of vintage downtown buildings, and closed the subway system. A hobbyist and train enthusiast, Bruce Moffatt, had written a small book about this early 20th century forgotten underground delivery system. Overnight, he was the unsuspecting celebrity interviewee on background for this amazing news story. Hear Bruce tell the story of the creation of Chicago’s underground commercial network of tunnels that delivered services and goods to Chicago’s great buildings of the early 20th century.
Two star-crossed Armenian immigrants met in Evanston in the nineteen-teens. They brought together a trade from the old country, Turkey, a booming demand for their trade in the United States, and mixed in a bit of good-old real estate entrepreneurship. They built the business and the buildings that became Koshgarian Rug Cleaners in La Grange and Hinsdale, Illinois. The business is now in its fourth generation of their family. Hear this fascinating tale, as told by Herb Koshgarian, the 89 year old son of immigrants Mike and Mary Koshgarian. It’s a classic tale of hard work and acumen; that of the immigrant owner/ user of commercial real estate in the United States.
When you visit the Loop in Chicago, you’ll probably take a picture at the iconic Bean ( actually called Cloud Gate). If you’re watching the business section in the papers, you’ll see a gigantic new sports complex that’s been constructed in the Pullman neighborhood. You’ll also see a new Method factory recently constructed, and Whole Foods new Midwest distribution center. You may have also heard about one of the first two Whole Foods in the country that was placed into a food desert in an underprivileged neighborhood, in this case, Englewood. “Wow’, you think, “Chicago is doing a lot of things right”. But what you probably don’t realize it that all these things have one person in common, developer and public finance wizard, David Doig. Listen to a humble man describe his amazing journey.
Jim Haertel, a modest multi-family investor from Milwaukee, couldn’t forget the beautiful Pabst headquarters he’d seen in his 30’s. Hear the story of Jim’s $50,000 down payment and his obsession with saving a couple structures in the gigantic Pabst Brewery 30-building assemblage. His effort was the genesis of the repositioning of an entire submarket of Milwaukee into a booming engine of economic growth.
Two men in their early twenties, Jay Michael and Alex Samoylovich, grade school friends and first generation Americans, pooled their resources, moxie, and families to shape the most radical micro-living concepts. Their Chicago company has innovated wholesale changes in how mixed use development, retail, and apartment living fit together. Listen to Alex tell the story of their beginnings, and his homage to the late Jay Michael.
For the last episode of season 1 of Stages to Success, I respond to questions posed by a faithful listener since episode 1, Joe from the Carolinas. Joe wants to go deeper into the mind and motivations of the performer, on the concert stage and in the commercial real estate sales office. Drawing on some of the interview material from season 1, as well as some off air discussions, I reflect on Joe’s questions. Join us for Season 2 of the podcast, scheduled for October.
Today’s guest, Chicago real estate attorney Jim Hochman, began his legal career in the Navy, working his way into the J.A.G. Hear how Jim began his legal career before he even attended law school, rose to prominence as an in-house counsel at CBRE, and was pivotal in creating the statutes that protect collection of commission for brokers in 34 states in the U.S.
Ray Volk, of Jenkins and Huntington in Chicago, has one of the most important jobs for high rise commercial buildings, but on a transactional level, you’ll probably never meet him. Just what is it that he does that’s so behind-the-scenes? Listen to Ray talk about his career and projects, and meet yet another kid from off the farm who makes it big in the big cities.
As told by Julien’s first business partner, Mike Solomon, hear how young Julien and his family escape the Nazi blitzkrieg across Europe, and make their way to New York. Hear how this enterprising teenager, without a formal high school education, builds a career and company from a walk up small apartment into the Studley juggernaut that, after his retirement, sold to a publicly traded company for a quarter billion dollars. Replete with fascinating details along the way, enjoy the story of a titan of commercial real estate, Julien J. Studley.
Episode 5 of “Stages to Success” is an interview of Jonathan Zimmerman, Managing Broker of Willard Jones Real Estate in Chicago. Jonathan dominates the niche of Class C landlord representation in Chicago. He’s a life-long Chicagoan who started his own company, after decades listing properties for Rubloff. Jonathan’s humble, consistent, and honest brokerage, working with the lowest lease rate buildings in the city are a benchmark for fair dealing. Listen to Jonathan’s tale, from his inauspicious start, representing an unoccupied office building, to his prominence in this sector today.