Sy Taxman has been the leader in in-town development for
nearly 30 years.
Sy Taxman, founder and CEO of Chicago-based The Taxman Corporation,
got into the development business by pure accident. He started
his career in 1962 as a lawyer in Chicago. Then, in 1970,
he helped form a local real estate company where he worked
for 5 years. In 1975, he decided to go out on his own and,
since then, his company has developed and/or redeveloped more
than 2 million square feet of neighborhood and community retail.
And, Taxman is still going strong with several developments
currently in the works.
Within the last 5 years, the company has branched out from
developing just retail projects, and has begun developing
multifamily and mixed-use projects as well. We do a
lot of residential now, but it is all triggered by the commercial
aspects of the projects that we are involved with, Taxman
Talbots is one of the
tenants at the second phase of River Forest Town
Center, in River Forest, Illinois. This phase,
which opened in October 2002, totals about 57,000
The companys first foray into the multifamily market began
about 9 years ago while developing phase I of River Forest Town
Center, a 150,000-square-foot urban lifestyle center located
at the southwest corner of Lake Street and Harlem Avenue in
River Forest, Illinois. The Taxman Corporation built the first
phase of the center (90,000 square feet), which opened in 1994
and is anchored by Whole Foods Market, next to an existing 48-unit
condominium building on Lake Street.
Not long after the River Forest Town Center opened, the Village
of River Forest approached Taxman about expanding the retail
center. However, the condominium building sat in the way. Tim
Hague, president of The Taxman Corporation, suggested demolishing
the existing building and relocating existing residents into
a new 64-unit condominium building that the company would build
two blocks away.
After 3 years of negotiating with every homeowner in the
building, we relocated 48 residents to the new building called
William Place Condominiums, Sy Taxman says. It opened
up the opportunity to significantly expand the retail.
As a result, the company was able to make room for the second
phase of River Forest Town Center (totaling 57,000 square feet),
which opened in October 2002 with Linens n Things as its
anchor. Other tenants that have leased space in phase II of
River Forest Town Center are Ann Taylor Loft, Chicos,
Childrens Place, Harry & David, Panera Bread and Talbots.
According to Tim Hague, the center will be 100 percent leased
when Red Wagons Toy Store a dot-com retailer that is
growing to include a brick and mortar store opens this
During the time that it was developing the first phase of
River Forest Town Center and William Place Condominiums, The
Taxman Corporation also developed The Shops of Downtown Oak
Park, an approximately 50,000-square-foot retail center located
on the southeast corner of Lake Street and Harlem Avenue in
Oak Park, Illinois, directly across the street from River
Forest Town Center. The center opened in 1997 with tenants
including Old Navy, The Gap, Pier 1 Imports and T.G.I. Fridays.
The combined retail development by The Taxman Corporation
at this intersection that most people thought was abandoned
now totals about 200,000 square feet.
More recently, The Taxman Corporation completed a 34-unit
condominium building, called The Mews, located 1 mile east
of The Shops of Downtown Oak Park on the northeast corner
of Lake Street and Euclid Avenue. In addition, it is currently
developing Euclid Terraces a 34-unit upscale townhouse
project on the southeast corner of Lake and Euclid.
The company also relocated a longtime neighborhood hot dog
stand to build Euclid Commons, a mixed-use development currently
under construction featuring three levels of residential units
located above 8,000 square feet of retail space at grade level.
The company already has one fully executed lease and several
signed letters of intent, and Stacy Taxman, project manager
for the company, expects the retail space to be delivered
to tenants late in the second quarter of 2004. These three
projects are all part of a joint venture with Tim Anderson,
president of Northfield, Illinois-based Focus Development
Euclid Commons, a mixed-use
development, is currently under development by
The Taxman Corporation.
In Vernon Hills, Illinois, The Taxman Corporation is currently
in the process of designing Vernon Hills Town Center, a mixed-use
development centered around a man-made lake. The center will
be located on the northwest corner of Milwaukee Avenue and
Old Half Day Road. This is going to be a gateway
development for the town, Sy Taxman says. The
concept here is to bring the retail to the front of the development
in a series of buildings that will be architecturally significant.
It will afford the retailer immediate identification, and
we are going to try to do the same concept everywhere we can
Taxman plans to develop about 70,000 square feet of retail
and 200 multifamily units at the Vernon Hills Town Center
project. It should total about 30 acres when it is all
said and done, he notes.
The Taxman Corporation is also working on forming a public/private
partnership with the Village of Vernon Hills to integrate Vernon
Hills Town Center with land owned by the College of Lake County.
The college is building a campus near the center, and Taxman
hopes to mix new and unique retail, restaurants and townhouses
to create a destination area for the campus all on one parcel.
Also in Vernon Hills, The Taxman Corporation is developing
Aspen Pointe, a mixed-use project that will feature 300 condominium
units and about 100,000 square feet of retail. The company
purchased the land last March totaling about 27 acres
located at Route 60 and Aspen Drive. The company is
currently in the entitlement process, but it already has signed
commitments from Walgreens and numerous other retailers. The
company formed a joint venture with John Thomas, president
of Niles, Illinois-based Newport Builders to develop both
Vernon Hills Town Center and Aspen Pointe.
In Skokie, Illinois, Taxman paired with Scott Gendell of
Terraco Inc. to purchase the Old Orchard Theater and a car
wash on Skokie Boulevard in October 2002. They demolished
the theater to develop Siena at Old Orchard a mixed-use
project featuring 110 condominiums overlooking an existing
par three golf course and a retail component situated at the
front of the property. The retail will consist of a bank,
a Portillos restaurant a recently completed deal
by Margie Georgopulous, vice president and one of the principals
with The Taxman Corporation and another freestanding
building. We are bringing in Tuscan-style architecture,
and we are going to make it one of the prettiest sites on
the North Shore, Sy Taxman says. The retail should
be completed 1 year from now, and the condominiums should
be completed shortly thereafter.
Sy Taxman talks about his many
projects currently under development.
Also in Skokie, The Taxman Corporation has undertaken the restoration
of the Dempster Street Station at the Skokie Swift Terminal.
The train station, which was designed by the world famous railroad
architect Arthur Gerber in 1926, had reached a point of severe
disrepair. Sy Taxman and Gendell, in another joint venture,
acquired the rights to the building about 1 year ago. However,
because the building is on the National Register of Historic
Places, the acquisition came with the stipulation that the building
not be demolished but rather that it be moved 130 feet (to allow
for the redesign of the entrance and parking lots at the Skokie
Swift Terminal) and restored back to its original 1926 design.
However, moving the building was no easy task. It took
us 5 months to move the building, Sy Taxman says. We
would move it and cracks would occur. The last thing we needed
on our resume would be credit for demolishing a building on
the National Register of Historic Places.
So, after careful relocation of the 4,000-square-foot building
onto a new foundation and plenty of restoration work, The Taxman
Corporation is about 80 percent finished with the project. Sy
Taxman expects to deliver about half of the building to Starbucks.
He says that a bank will probably occupy the other half of the
building. We are going to turn a terrible eyesore into
something that the village can be proud of and that we can be
proud of. Georgopulous is coordinating the development
on behalf of The Taxman Corporation for both Skokie projects.
The Taxman Corporation has also undertaken a historic restoration
at 1055 West Bryn Mawr in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago.
This project is part of a joint venture with Joe Antunovich,
founder and president with the Chicago-based architectural firm,
Antunovich Associates. While the 16,000-square-foot building
is not a historic landmark in and of itself, it is located in
a historic district. According to Stacy Taxman, the company
plans to begin the restoration in January 2004 to bring this
building back to its 1935 design and condition using like materials,
such as variations of terra cotta, to create a multi-tenanted
retail center. The community views this project as being
an anchor for the neighborhood, she says.
The Taxman Corporation also has a retail project in Arlington
Heights, Illinois, called South Arlington Heights Commons. The
company won the right to redevelop the northeast corner of Golf
Road and Arlington Heights Road through an RFP issued by the
village. Hague is currently negotiating with Target to anchor
Taxman is hoping that this development will also act as a gateway
to the Village of Arlington Heights. The company plans to develop
an additional 70,000 square feet of retail shops at the center.
While Taxmans entrance into the development industry may
have been an accident, it seems to have paid off. Sy Taxman
has been able to create a successful development company by
identifying opportunities and then acting on them when others
would not. At the same time, he has managed to develop projects
that are meaningful to their respective communities.
©2003 France Publications, Inc.
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