“We may close today and pay off the bank,” she said on April 26. “The room is not for sale. It was never sold. The whole thing was misunderstood.”
Reached by phone today, Gouletas said she is still working on it with Republic.
“You know how lawyers work,” she said. “They have to cross their Ts and dot their Is.”
A lawyer representing the Republic in the event of bankruptcy was not immediately available. The bankruptcy trustee, Robert Handler, said he was unaware of a deal between Gouletas and Republic.
Hilco, meanwhile, is moving forward with plans to sell the property, which includes the 5,200 square foot restaurant on the 70th floor and approximately 2,400 square feet of commercial space on the second floor of the building. The offer period ends in late spring or early summer, said Stephen Madura, senior vice president at Hilco, a unit of Hilco Global based in Highland Park.
Madura isn’t ruling out a sale to a restaurant operator, but believes the odds are good for a homebuyer. The restaurant business is still struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic while demand for high-end residential real estate is strong.
“In the last six months to a year, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in demand for residential real estate,” Madura said.
Hilco isn’t marketing the property with a asking price and Madura wouldn’t guess what it might bring. Though a residential conversion could stretch into millions of dollars, the expense could be worth it for a developer or wealthy buyer, given the property’s lakefront location — it’s the only high-rise building east of DuSable Lake Shore Drive — and its views.
“It really feels like you’re in the middle of Lake Michigan up there,” says Madura.
Cité is open but still losing money, according to a recent court filing. The restaurant generated -$61,075 in operating cash flow in March and ended the month with $147,812 in cash on hand, according to a recently filed court filing.
The property has faced financial problems in the past. Back in 2012, Gouletas faced a $5.7 million foreclosure over the restaurant and commercial space, but managed to retain ownership of the property. She refinanced it in 2015 with a $3.8 million loan from Republic.
In November 2021, about two years after Republic filed its foreclosure lawsuit, the Cook County Sheriff evicted Cité from the building. A few days later, the Gouletas company, which owns the restaurant and premises, filed a Chapter 11 petition in the US Bankruptcy Court in Chicago. Judge Janet Baer appointed Handler as trustee of the property in March.