How one developer from the Windy City is leaving his mark on the Twin Cities' landscape
By Mary Ann Ford
Chicago real estate developer Doug Reichl was only helping one of his clients when he first started looking at property in Bloomington- Normal.
“The product they wanted, a new building, ceiling heights and at a corner, didn’t exist 15 years ago,” said Reichl, founder of Tartan Realty.
Reichl found land at the corner of Veterans Parkway and Washington Street and built a development that would fit the needs of his client, Potbelly Sandwich Works, as well as several others, including the first Starbucks in the Twin Cities.
But Reichl’s development within in Bloomington-Normal was far from over.
Potbelly wanted a second Twin City location so Reichl acquired land on Main Street in Normal and built a building that also brought Noodles & Company to the area.
“I did a lot of design on that building and I worried somebody might build something less desirable across the street,” he said. So he bought the property to the south.
Newly adopted Main Street design standards required a vertical building at the site.
“Suddenly, I was in the student housing business,” he said. He ended up building three student apartment buildings in that area.
In the meantime, Reichl teamed up with Tom Jednorowicz, who had left his job as chief development officer at Potbelly to try something different. The two founded Meat Heads.
“Central Illinois is a really good test market to see if a concept will work,” Reichl said, so he purchased land along Veterans Parkway just north of the Potbelly/Starbucks site and the first Meat Heads was launched. There are now 17 locations.
Reichl said the restaurant’s success “gave us the confidence to open a hotel.” Working with the Town of Normal, he secured a deal to bring a Hyatt Place to Uptown Normal. It opened last fall.
In between, Reichl finally had the opportunity to purchase land at the corner of Veterans Parkway and College Avenue that he had eyed for years.
“I knew it was a coveted corner,” he said.
Red Robin was interested in the location and so was Chick-fil-A, two new restaurants for the Twin Cities. He also added a building to the west and brought in Blaze Pizza and Chipotle.
Now he’s focusing on building One Uptown on the Circle just east of Hyatt Place. He’s planning a restaurant on the first floor, Town of Normal offices on the second floor and apartments on the third through fifth floors.
“We’ve been rewarded; the projects are all successful,” said Riechl. “The biggest reason we continue to do things is the trust level. We don’t always get what we want but the project gets done to a level everyone wants.”
“If it wasn’t for the business environment here, we would have found opportunities other places.”