Optima Inc. Senior Vice President Mark Segal said his firm won’t change its retail strategy. It just broke ground on Optima Lakeview, a 198-unit luxury apartment complex at 3460 North Broadway St. in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood near Wrigley Field. It will also have 14K SF of commercial space.

“While obviously dealing with COVID-19 presents challenges, we believe that over time, some normalcy will return, along with the ability of people to resume activities they have done in the past,” he said.

The company populated its Optima Signature tower, which opened in 2017 in affluent Streeterville, with an eclectic mix of retailers, including many service providers that residents see as amenities. Streeterville retail tenants include a restaurant, a full-service veterinarian, a fitness studio and a nail salon. Segal said the firm has a similar vision for Lakeview.

And although the company also made room for nontraditional users such as Guidepost Montessori at Magnificent Mile, a new elementary school that now occupies 14K SF, Segal said he still has great confidence in traditional retail. He points to recent stats that show brick-and-mortar retail is stronger than many realize.

At the pandemic’s height, e-commerce accounted for 16.1% of all retail spending, not much higher than pre-pandemic times, Linneman Associates principal and former Wharton School professor Peter Linneman said during Walker & Dunlop’s Oct. 21 Walker Webcast. E-commerce accounted for 11.8% of retail sales in Q1 2020 before the pandemic began.

“This was the perfect storm to test if e-commerce could overtake brick-and-mortar for good, and e-commerce failed miserably,” Linneman said.

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