It's South Bend's tallest building, and the city says it's closer to having a new owner. Mayor Pete Buttigieg told WSBT half a dozen “serious investors” are looking to buy the Chase Tower.
The building has been on the market since early February, and Colorado-based brokerage firm HREC Investment Advisors said it plans to close the door on bids for the property by the first week in June.
HREC Vice President Tom Sommer said Wednesday at least one of the interested buyers is local and already owns businesses in South Bend.
South Bend doesn't own the Chase Tower but the Mayor's Chief of Staff, Mike Schmuhl, said the city is interested in the building’s future because of its rich history and everything inside – including two restaurants, a hotel and dozens of local businesses.
“This is the premiere building in South Bend,” said Ken Herceg, owner of Ken Herceg and Associates Incorporated. “I don't care what anybody says. You fly into South Bend or you drive into South Bend and this is the building you see. That's why I want to be here.”
But choosing to house his engineering, architecture and surveying company in the Chase Tower since 1994 has also been a challenge lately.
“Nobody seems to want to declare that they own this building and really have to put some money into it,” he added.
Herceg and others who work in the building told WSBT they’ve worried about cracks in the parking garage and paid the price for old elevators.
“The last year and a half has been horrible. We can't run an office 200 and some feet above the street without elevators. And we have had a couple of days where we've had no elevator service, where we simply walked,” he said.
Wednesday, the first three elevators seemed to work just fine. The fourth was not working at all, but people in the building said they’ve seen workers repairing the elevators within the last two weeks and they appear to be operating more smoothly.
Schmuhl confirmed work has been done recently to improve the elevators.
The hope now is to find someone who wants to invest in the Chase Tower and all the upgrades it needs.
“The positive news there is it seems there are a number of interested parties in the property,” Schmuhl said.
“It’s going to take somebody who cares enough to put enough money into the building so they can get money out of the building,” Herceg added.
The asking price for the Chase Tower is $8.3 million. The court-appointed receiver managing the building is from Chicago, and the company that owns the Chase Tower is based in Massachusetts.
Late last year, a Chicago-area developer proposed a $19 million rehabilitation plan of the tower on the condition that the city contribute $5.7 of that funding. The common council tabled the proposal twice and that developer told the South Bend Tribune he was walking away.
Sommer told WSBT once they get through the bidding process and reach a deal with a new owner, they’re at the mercy of the courts. Owners Dillingham Hill Real Estate entered into foreclosure in February 2011.