MERRILLVILLE | A real estate and retail development and property management firm has hired a new chief financial officer, as it plans to move company leaders downtown Chicago.
Weiss Entities, which used to manage the WiseWay grocery chain, plans to relocate its corporate headquarters from Merrillville to the Loop, where it will have a Michigan Avenue office right across from The Art Institute of Chicago. The business is expanding beyond Northwest Indiana into a more regional firm that will pursue projects across Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, said owner and president Donald Weiss.
The multi-faceted commercial and multifamily firm also add an executive with more than two decades of experience at one of the biggest players in Chicago real estate: The John Buck Co.
Bob Sotak, a 22-year veteran at The John Buck Co., is joining Weiss Entities as senior vice president and chief financial officer. He is tasked with growing the company's regional portfolio of apartments and retail properties, through both development and acquisition.
While working with The John Buck Co.'s asset management group, Sotak developed plans for residential, office and hotel projects. He served as development controller and asset manager for the North Bridge District, a massive mixed-use project that spans nine city blocks and features upscale retail such as A|X Armani Exchange, BOSS Hugo Boss and Louis Vuitton.
"We are extremely proud to have Bob join our team," Weiss said "The John Buck Co. is one of Chicago's, and the United States', most successful real estate developers. Bob will join our already strong team of vice presidents Nancy Camp, Bob Collins and Angela Fielder allowing us to internally finance, manage and build projects of the scale of The Lakes and beyond."
Weiss is focusing more on development and property management after selling seven WiseWay and PayLow supermarkets to Highland-based Strack & Van Til in late 2012. His privately held company owns a WiseWay store in Winfield and Wise Guys Discount Liquors in Merrillville and Hobart, but also manages and develops apartment buildings and retail properties, including neighborhood shopping centers throughout Lake and Porter counties.
Last year, Weiss Entities bought 140 acres of land in Valparaiso and has started work on a $100 million investment in a business park and 408-unit luxury apartment community known as the Lakes of Valparaiso.
The company plans to moves its headquarters to 104 S. Michigan Ave. in Chicago in April. Seven company leaders will relocate to the Loop, while about 80 to 100 officer workers will remain in Northwest Indiana, Weiss said. They will be relocated from the current office in Merrillville to the WiseWay in Winfield, where they will oversee the company's retail division.