The economy, negative news reports and a deteriorating building – those are just a few reasons The Summit Club’s chairman of the club’s board of directors says it closed after more than 40 years as South Bend's highest restaurant.
But what does it mean for the sale of the Chase Tower, a building that already faces a laundry list of challenges?
The Summit Club has been at the top of the Chase Tower since 1971. But when the elevators opened on the 25th floor Wednesday, an image on a computer screen said “Sorry We are Closed."
WSBT found the executive chef and a few others working in the kitchen, prepping food for a previously scheduled private party, one day after The Summit Club suddenly announced it was closed for business and let go roughly 25 employees without notice.
Media reports about a deteriorating chase tower and faulty elevators hurt business the most, said Kevin Brisson, chairman of the Summit Club’s board of directors.
“We had lots of events and lots of cancellations over the last year specifically because of fear of coming to the building. They didn't feel they'd be able to get an elevator, they felt unsafe, it wasn't worth the risk to them,” he said.
“Losing The Summit Club is really a big loss to the community in my opinion,” added Andrew Nemeth, a commercial real estate Broker whose office is four floors below in the Chase Tower. “It's also a loss to the building. Any investors that are taking a look at this building as an overall investment per say, the value of the building just diminished $2 to $2.5 million dollars.”
Nemeth listed the building for several months and later represented a Chicago developer who tried to buy the Chase Tower late last year, but backed out when the city refused to help pay for repairs.
“Something has to happen. I don’t care if it’s Jesus of Nazareth, Donald Trump, myself,” Nemeth said. “The reality is without some assistance [from the city], the deal doesn’t make sense for anybody.”
Whoever ends up buying the Chase Tower, Nemeth added, will likely end up spending at least $6 million on immediate, necessary fixes on a new roof, new energy efficient windows, new elevators, an improved HVAC system and other structural repairs.
He also said The Summit Club was the building’s highest paying tenant, which creates a big hole in the potential income an investor could have.
Colorado-based brokerage firm HREC Investment advisers still has the property listed for sale on its website. The company’s vice president, Tom Sommer, told WSBT Wednesday the courts recently approved an extension for interested buyers to submit bids until July 1. Sommer has said about half a dozen serious buyers are interested in the building.