Flossmoor Commons has experienced a resurgence under new management. The shopping/office space along Vollmer Road between Kedzie and Governors Highway, once had many empty storefronts and vacant office units but has been transformed into a thriving commercial and professional district.
Blake Meier and Joe Labit, who purchased Flossmoor Commons near the end of 2021, believe the 83% occupancy is partially because they’ve done more to advertise Flossmoor Commons and they renovated the office building to make it more attractive to new tenants.
The shopping center was purchased by auction from Front Line Real Estate Partners in a Ten-X sale. When making the purchase, the new owners formed Flosscomm Investments LLC, derived from “Flossmoor” and “Commons.”
Since Flosscomm took over, the storefronts in Flossmoor Commons have gone from having 45% vacancy to operating at full capacity, according to figures provided by Derek Consch of HRE Property who works with Flosscomm to help manage the space.
According to the same provided figures, the office building in Flossmoor Commons has gone from having 76% vacancy to having only 24% vacancy.
In the retail area of Flossmoor Commons, eight new businesses have opened: Product Freak Beauty Supply, Guaranteed Rate, the Mommie Experience, DeLorne Bridal, Nu Comfort Medical Supply, Karyn’s Inner Beauty, Karyn’s Kitchen, Bark N Bubbles and Cork Wine & Gaming.
In the office space, 13 new businesses have opened: Seneca Stevenson, Dream Girl Studios, Hill ASAP, Precise Healthcare Solutions, Luxe Living Realty, Neighborhood Pediatrics, ELIT8 Body Lounge, Sole Retreat, Flawless Imports & More, L&M Consulting Agency, LM Strategies Consulting, Highpoint Technician Group and The Cuvée Concierge.
Flossmoor Commons owners Meier and Labit live in Frankfort. This is their first major investment of this kind, Meier said. For this reason, he said they care more about the state of Flossmoor Commons.
Ronakkamur Patal, owner of the new Cork Wine & Gaming business, said he was interested in opening Cork when previous owner Front Line still owned the property, but he was informed Front Line was going bankrupt. He said he had to wait until they sold the property before he could open his business.
Flossmoor Mayor Michelle Nelson said, “I feel great about the state of Flossmoor Commons. So many new wonderful small business owners are choosing Flossmoor to begin new business adventures. And it’s an honor to be mayor during a time when they’re choosing Flossmoor.”
Larry Kluger, owner of Kluger Furs, said under the old management, the only way a tenant could contact Front Line was by email. If there was a problem with the property, Kluger said he’d wait months before being able to speak to anyone about it.
“They had a phone number, but you never really talked to anybody. They wanted you to email. But for the last six months, they didn’t even answer emails,” Kluger said.
Meier said that after Flosscomm purchased the property, it took three to four months before the property was turned over to them.
Kluger said it’s a “night and day” difference between the old owners and new owners.
“When I first met one of the [new] owners, [it] was a late Saturday afternoon and I asked him to come see my leaks,” Kluger said. “The next morning, […] both the owners, two young guys from the south suburbs, were up on the roof with my roofer trying to figure out what to do to stop the leaks. The next Saturday, the leaks were fixed.”
Kluger said he has one of the new owner’s personal cell phone number. These days, Kluger said if he has any problems with the property, he can text the co-owner and someone will quickly come to the property to check out the problem.
The managers worked to update the office complex replacing the hallway carpet and adding new floorboards. The space got a fresh coat of paint and new ceiling tiles were added.
To attract new tenants, the managers invested in advertising. This included “physical signs” and “an extensive amount of online marketing,” Labit said.
“We’ve put up signs – window signs, big poster signs on the corner of the street saying ‘spaces available for lease.’ It’s just that easy. And then you get people calling your phone,” Labit said. “The fact that [old management] didn’t even think to put signs out there. That’s why nobody was coming in.”
Meier said that people going to stores again after staying home because of COVID-19 also probably played a role in Flossmoor Commons’ resurgence.
“COVID was starting to dwindle away,” Meier said. “The strip malls were kind of dead everywhere. And all of a sudden, they just came alive everywhere. That was probably part of it.”
The only business in Flossmoor Commons’ retails space that hasn’t officially opened yet is Karyn’s Kitchen, a vegan, raw food restaurant. Consch said the new owners are currently in negotiations with two more businesses that will bring the office building closer to 100% occupancy.