Zahn's building

The former Zahn’s department store building, at Monument Square and Fifth Street, is shown on June 19.

PETE WICKLUND, Journal Times file photo

RACINE — More than 1½ years after the former Zahn’s Department Store building last changed hands, its owner says he is prepared to wait as long as necessary before selling it.

The four-story, 39,000-square-foot building has been vacant for 36 years, since Zahn’s Department Store closed in 1981. There have been various projects proposed for the structure including a children’s museum, boutique hotel, low-income housing, apartments and library space.

In early 2016, Bachan Singh of Brookfield, owner of gas stations and convenience stores across southeastern Wisconsin, bought the former Zahn’s from Tri City National Bank for $275,000. He continues to have it listed for sale at more than twice that amount: $595,000.

At one time the property was on the market for $2.5 million. But over the years the price tag dropped to $1.99 million, to $1 million, to $850,000 and to $479,000 in fall 2015.

The building is currently listed by Cushman & Wakefield/The Boerke Co. On Wednesday listing agent Kristian Sydow said it’s been under contract to sell at least twice, but those deals never panned out.

“There’s always been interest,” Sydow said, both by “very, very qualified” parties and some that were less than that. Ultimately it should sell for the $15 per square foot that is being asked, he said.

He envisions the most likely fits for the building to be either office or market-rate housing.

“We’re talking to a couple of groups right now,” Sydow said.

Singh said he’s in no hurry to sell and doesn’t plan to reduce the price. “I’m not going down. If anything, I am going up,” said the Indian immigrant who reportedly came to America in 1978 and has since made a fortune operating gas stations and developing real estate.

Singh said he will hold the Downtown Racine building “till I get the right price.”



Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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