A big piece of Andersonville changes hands

Many of downtown Andersonville's prominent retail properties changed hands yesterday.

RayMark Venture, which owned buildings housing Hamburger Mary's, Urbanest, Sir Spa, and the Andersonville Galleria,  sold its portfolio of nine buildings on Clark Street to Phaser, LLC.

Mark Falanga, a RayMark principal, confirmed the sale, but says he can't discuss details.

Zifkin Realty and Development became the new manager of the properties, and also has an ownership stake in the buildings, says Zifkin official Simon Malek.

Malek says he also can't discuss how much Phaser paid for the properties or other details about the deal.

Jason Cox, associate director of the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, says he's optimistic about Phaser's arrival in the neighborhood.

"We are looking forward to meeting with them," he says. "We hear they are very community minded and we are optimistic about their involvement."

The RayMark portfolio stretched from the 5100 block to the 5500 block of Clark, and included about 100,000 square feet of commercial space. Other tenants include Tomboy restaurant, the Brown Elephant thrift store, and the Chi-Town Daily News.

Some tenants affected by the sale say they are concerned about whether Zifkin will focus on leasing to chain retailers.

"I don't see the people of Andersonville being very happy with corporate shops opening. The neighborhood is built around small independent businesses," says Paul Fehribach, chef/owner of Big Jones, a recently opened restaurant that occupies the ground floor of 5347 N. Clark Street.

Other business owners say they were kept in the dark about the planned sale of the buildings, and that the previous owner explained various walk-through as necessary for refinancing.

"Nobody needed to have their intelligence insulted by saying they were 're- financing'. Anyone in business would know who they were and what they were doing," says Natalie Zarzour, owner of Pasticceria Natalina at 5406 N. Clark Street.

Oumnia Maettaoui, the manager at Marrarech Treasures at 5416 N. Clark, says the sale has changed little for her.

"There's just another owner," she says. "We'll see when the lease is up if they re-sign or increase rent prices."