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Caton Commercial Real Estate Group completes unique lease for Aurora Arts Center

Caton Commercial Real Estate Group completes unique lease for Aurora Arts,ph01
The newly redeveloped John C. Dunham Aurora Arts Center and adjacent Paramount Theatre in Aurora, Illinois.

Caton Commercial Real Estate Group has completed a commercial lease assignment that is bringing a fine dining restaurant by acclaimed Chicago restaurateur Amy Morton to Aurora, Illinois’ downtown revitalization efforts.

This new restaurant, at 5 E. Galena Blvd., will be the cornerstone of the newly redeveloped John C. Dunham Aurora Arts Center and adjacent to the Paramount Theatre, a nationally renowned entertainment venue. The restaurant will add an upscale dining experience to anchor the downtown redevelopment area and appeal to theater patrons and locals alike.

The lease culminates an intensive search on behalf of the Aurora Arts Center, initiated by Christina Caton Kitchel, a partner and senior vice president of leasing for the Naperville, Illinois-based commercial real estate firm. Caton Kitchel led a dedicated team that extensively evaluated multiple Chicago area fine dining communities—from downtown Chicago to affluent suburban locations–to identify established restaurant concepts ideally suited for Aurora’s plans to rejuvenate the downtown area.

“We completed a highly detailed search before identifying Amy Morton as a perfect fit for creating a sophisticated and lively dining experience to support this significant downtown revitalization effort,” Caton Kitchel said. “The Paramount Theatre is a nationally acclaimed entertainment venue with limited fine dining options in the area, making this a great addition that will help captivate theater patrons and draw residents from nearby communities.”

A veteran restaurateur, Morton is known for her critically-acclaimed restaurants FOUND Kitchen and Social House, a shared-plate concept in Evanston, Illinois and The Barn Steakhouse, an Evanston restaurant that is a nod to her father and legendary Chicago restaurateur Arnie Morton. She also operates Patty2, a healthy burger restaurant on Northwestern University’s campus. The new Aurora restaurant and its menu will be named soon.

The Caton Commercial team evaluated approximately 40 restaurant concepts as part of their efforts to reposition one of the most prominent properties in the city. The 80,000-square-foot art center building is being renovated to also include a 25,000-square-foot school for performing arts, an 8,000-square-foot rehearsal space for the theater, along with practice and recital rooms and 38 apartments. The historically significant building previously housed two department stores and the downtown campus of Waubonsee Community College.

The Aurora Arts Center renovation is a project by The Community Builders Inc., a non-profit developer, in partnership with Paramount Theatre, the city of Aurora, Invest Aurora and the Illinois Housing Development Authority. The 80,000-square foot, mixed-use development also includes loft-style apartments and a street-level art gallery.

The Paramount Theatre is a renowned entertainment venue that launched a successful and critically-acclaimed Broadway Series that has grown to become the highest subscription theater in Illinois and the second in the nation. It serves 41,000 subscribers attending its 1,800-seat theater. The restaurant is scheduled to open this fall to coincide with the opening of the 2019-20 Broadway Series.

Caton Commercial Real Estate Group completes unique lease for Aurora Arts,ph02
Christina Caton Kitchel of Caton Commercial Real Estate Group.