A signature downtown Winnetka property will soon be available, as longtime tenant Berkshire Hathaway plans to relocate its office at 538 Chestnut St.
Winetka’s Village Council granted the well-known real estate company approval to move its office branch to 839-841 Elm St. during its Tuesday, Jan. 5 regular meeting.
Representatives from Berkshire Hathaway, both in messages to village officials and during the Jan. 5 meeting, cited changing consumer needs and preferences and the desire to downsize as the reasons for the move.
James R. Nash, a broker representing the firm that owns the building, explained to the council how office procedures have changed recently, mainly because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The office, a resident of the marquee corner since 1985, has fewer customers and agents coming in said Nash, who estimated that at most five people come through the office each day.
With the highly visible property at the corner of Elm and Chestnut ready to hit the market soon, village officials have high aspirations for it.
“It does open up some really interesting possibilities,” Village President Chris Rintz said. “ … We’ll be working hard to find a suitable replacement.”
Village Manager Rob Bahan said there hasn’t been much interest in the space yet but the village is anticipating it’ll start to see more interest once it formally gets on the market.
Winnetka’s Plan Commission reviewed the request and recommended its approval in December of 2020. Commissioners expressed their support for the proposal, stating that relocating the real estate office would free up the high-profile street corner in the heart of the village’s West Elm Business District.
Commissioners also expressed belief that the space could be used for a more active retail tenant or a restaurant.
The space at 538 Chestnut is approximately 4,000 square feet on the first floor and 2,150 square feet in the basement, according to village documents.
Berkshire Hathaway’s new space is located on the north side of Elm Street between Birch and Chestnut. The space is approximately 2,600 square feet, per village documents. It has been vacant since January of 2020 and was most recently occupied by Ellen on Elms.
Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.