Riverside has what developers and business owners are looking for, says Nick Fournier. They just don’t know where exactly to look.
That’s the pitch the 33-year-old Riverside real estate broker will be making to other commercial real estate brokers on May 1 during what he’s calling a “Brokers Bash” that will include tours of the village and visits to properties, like the Village Center and Arcade Building, which are crying out for tenants.
“I want to make this clear,” said Fournier, who opened Scout Real Estate on East Avenue in downtown Riverside about seven months ago. “I’m not doing this to list the properties or be an agent for the village. It’s because we want to live here for a very long time and we want what’s best for it.”
The event comes on the heels of an outreach effort in March by the Riverside Economic Development Commission. At that event, the commission, members of the Riverside Chamber of Commerce, Riverside officials and business owners met with the executive director of the Berwyn Development Corporation to learn about strategies that agency used to promote economic development in that city.
While not a member of the Riverside Economic Development Committee, Fournier has been a regular participant in the commission’s meetings. When he pitched the idea of a developer tour in Riverside, the EDC told him to run with it.
“His idea is to get brokers from all over the Chicago area and show them the empty spaces,’ said Keith Wright, the EDC member who was instrumental in putting together the March event with the Berwyn Development Corp. “And we’ve got to get the landlords with the vacant properties on board.”
Fournier has a key property owner on board in the form of Patrick Leone, who heads a company that purchased the commercial and remaining unsold residential units of the Village Center at 10 E. Burlington St. Leone also owns the vacant former Coveny Lane building at 30 E. Burlington St.
All of the participants in the May 1 Broker Bash will gather at the Village Center at 2:30 p.m. A Brookfield Zoo animal tram will shuttle brokers from spot to spot in the village. Afterward, there will be a reception for participants at a location that hasn’t yet been determined.
“A lot of people don’t know what Riverside is,” said Fournier. “We want to say, ‘This is our town and let everyone know we’re open for business. Some brokers who do know of Riverside have a negative notion of what the town is. We want to make sure people know that’s changing.”
Fournier said he’s sent out more than 1,000 emails to brokers throughout the metropolitan area and has some confirmations. With just three weeks before the event is supposed to take place, Fournier said he’s about to do some more targeted outreach to brokers.
“My expectation is that I’m hoping we’ll have 20 to 25 brokers,” Fournier said. “That’d be a great number.”