Jazmine Gonzalez, who is making a name for herself in the local hospitality industry, says the word that best describes her is ambitious.
Her latest venture is just that. As the Chicago Cubs were advancing in the playoff run last October, Gonzalez bought the former Cubby Bear sports bar in Lincolnshire for $2.5 million. She was determined to turn the sports bar into a an "industrial, ultramodern event space with technology and amenities to personalize every event." She spent another couple million dollars to transform the 31,000-square-foot venue with a country-western feel into Loft 21, a name that refers to its address on Route 21, or Milwaukee Avenue.
The venue officially opened May 19, but has been accepting bookings that are already running into 2020, Gonzalez said. "The building has been truly transformed from a sports bar look to something that's elegant with a cool, hip vibe," she said.
Gonzalez, who grew up in the southern suburb of Sauk Village, said it's her other business that made her realize that this type of venue is exactly what the suburbs need. Gonzalez, who also owns two bands, has been in the special event industry as an entertainment provider for more than two decades.
She runs Hype Productions, an entertainment production company that offers a wide range of services including emcees, DJs, dancers, live entertainment, video production, interactive entertainment, specialty acts and limousines. Many of her clients are on the North Shore and she discovered there was a demand for a local, suburban venue.
In creating Loft 21, she said she thought about all her favorite venues and their features and had many ideas on how to make it one-of-a-kind.
"I wanted clients to come in and see a blank canvas that they can customize to create a perfect event," she said.
Looking back, she says her work ethic comes from her parents, adding that she has learned many lifelong skills from playing softball. "Most of my life lessons have come from my team sport athletic experiences," she says. Her determination and fearlessness comes from a childhood softball coach she recalls.
Gonzalez enjoys her career and where it's headed. She says, "when you love what you do, it's easier to handle the stress."
Movement at architectural firm
DLA Architects in Itasca announced Carrie Matlock has taken the lead as president of one of the Midwest's top architecture firms. With the firm for more than two decades, in 2007 she became the first woman partner and vice president.
Matlock is LEED AP BD+C-credentialed and passionate about transforming buildings to help inspire learning.
DLA's niche is in educational design for 21st-century learning.
"Carrie's innovative approach and excellent communication skills make a difference for the clients she works with, which is why the board of directors voted to name her president. She's a top-notch leader," said DLA Architects' CEO Dwain Lutzow.
DLA Architects also said that Edward L. Wright is now a partner and Eric S. Sickbert has been promoted to chief financial officer after 10+ years as director of operations.
Peak coordinated installing new power, plumbing, HVAC and millwork.
Clients look to MedTorque not only for the company's manufacturing track record but also for the engineering expertise and consultative nature of the partnership, ranging from design to development to production. MedTorque's local location has been in operation for more than 50 years
Peak Construction is a design-build general contractor.
Brown Commercial Group, based in Elk Grove Village, recently brokered the sale of a 31,300 square-foot industrial building at 262 Carlton Drive in Carol Stream. Financial terms were not disclosed. Mike Antonelli, Brown Commercial Group's vice president of sales, represented the seller - CCS Realty LLC, which is consolidating its business and relocating outside of Illinois. Dan Brown, president of Brown Commercial Group, represented the buyer, a private investor who plans to make extensive renovations to the building to enhance its value.
"Investors continue to search for high quality industrial space in the Chicago suburban market and are increasingly turning to buildings that offer good long-term potential, even those properties requiring extensive renovations," Antonelli said. "This is another sign of the strength and resilience of Chicago's industrial market."
Not so great
Illinois was ranked as the No. 48 state for business in Chief Executive magazine's 13th annual Best & Worst States for Business survey. The Chief Executive rankings reflect CEO perceptions of best and worst states based on a range of key measures. Despite its consistent ranking of No. 48 in recent years, Illinois is still a popular location for businesses. The U.S. Department of Commerce lists the state as having the fifth largest GDP among states, according to 2015 figures.
Texas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Indiana were ranked Nos. 1-5, respectively. Full results and additional information can be found on in the May/June issue of Chief Executive.