CRM Properties Group was founded in 1981, when Chuck Malk began identifying, renovating, and leasing underutilized properties in Chicago’s River North area.
A tax lawyer by profession, Chuck integrated his real estate clients with his tax knowledge and began renovating projects for the benefit of his clients. Notable acquisitions in Chicago’s River North include 70 W. Erie, 501 N. Clark, and 708 N. Dearborn and in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood, 212 E. Ohio.
Recognizing a demand for urban retail, in 1989, CRM identified the blighted area at North Avenue and the Halsted Triangle and commenced developing auto related retail, the Lettuce Entertainment Restaurant “Bub City” and an Arlington Park off-track betting facility and called it “The Weed Street District.” In fact, the site of the subject redevelopment project known as The Fremont was the original location of the “Weed Street District.” Thereafter, the company developed a small shopping center at the corner of North Avenue and Sheffield with NYC Bagel, Starbucks and miscellaneous food, fashion and service retailers. A few years later, CRM purchased a defunct multi-story mall at 1800 N. Clybourn and reconfigured the asset to accommodate Bed Bath & Beyond, Gap Kids, Patagonia, Goose Island Brewery, a local furniture store, and one of the largest residential brokers in the neighborhood.
In 1998, CRM started the redevelopment of Downtown Deerfield, an upscale northern suburb of Chicago. This project reinvigorated the Village with restaurants, retailers and offices. Deerfield Square has significantly increased revenues for the Village while helping to create a Downtown for the residents. Residents of Deerfield benefit from an ideal mix of national tenants, like Barnes & Noble, Walgreens, Whole Foods, and local boutiques like b Friends, Scout & Molly’s and Mario Tricoci. The development also includes Class A office space and will soon include high-end apartments to round out the live-work-play environment.
In 2009, CRM completed the development of Kingsbury Square, an 80,000 square foot Whole Food Market and a parking structure that holds nearly 400 cars. The project, which broke ground in December of 2006, opened its doors to the public in May of 2009 and remains one of the largest Whole Foods in the country. This LEED certified project contains the first River Walk of the area, with several more projects along the River expected to follow suit. The store has brought over 200 permanent jobs to the neighborhood.
In 2015, CRM completed “The Shops on Fremont,” its latest addition to the Halsted Triangle. This redevelopment of CRM’s original acquisitions in the area includes DSW Shoes, Anthropologie, Athleta, Loft, White House/Black Market, Williams Sonoma and Xfinity. Designed in cooperation with the City of Chicago, the project created a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape on Weed Street while still providing visibility from North Avenue.
Over the years, CRM has taken great pride in its role as a key stakeholder in the neighborhoods it serves. The principals at CRM have gone to great lengths to build high quality real estate, employing best in class labor, and utilizing only top-quality construction materials. This detailed and long-term approach to the business has helped elevate the communities in which CRM develops, and in turn, has helped bolster the overall financial strength of the company. Despite the ever-changing strategies and trends in the development business, CRM has no plans to modify its old-school, simple approach to developing and managing high quality real estate.