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Real estate developer Joey Cacciatore Jr.

Joey Cacciatore Jr.

Joey Cacciatore Jr.

Joey Cacciatore is no stranger to real estate development. In fact, he eats, sleeps and breathes it. Having shadowed his father in the industry as a teenager, he now proudly advances the legacy of Jos. Cacciatore & Co. as the creator of Lacuna Artist Lofts in Pilsen.

“In the dictionary, ‘lacuna’ means ’empty.’ This was my vision,” states Cacciatore, whose father purchased the former macaroni factory in the mid-1980s. In the two years prior to its opening as Lacuna in 2011, Cacciatore Jr. transformed the space into a thriving creative community that allows artists in every medium to rent space to develop their craft while making a living at it. “It mitigates risk because we have hundreds of businesses and not just one single occupant,” states Cacciatore.

Housing 150-plus artistic entrepreneurs, Lacuna Artist Lofts is a 24/7 cutting-edge creative Mecca that many have dubbed the new Merchandise Mart. As they make their way through the building, art aficionados and prospective renters alike feel that they’ve stepped into an artist’s utopia. Artwork is presented in a variety of stimulating settings, with high ceilings and an edgy, modern feel. “The businesses are driven by creative spirits,” Cacciatore explains.

Among the well-known names attracted by Cacciatore’s innovative concept are Andrew Barber, creator of Fake Shore Drive (Fakeshoredrive.com), a popular blog that covers the Midwest’s urban music scene, and artist Hebru Brantley (HebruBrantley.com), who has worked on projects for Barack Obama, Tyra Banks and the 20th anniversary of Lollapalooza. A complete directory of artists can be found on the Lacuna website. (www.Lacuna2150.com)

Lacuna is also a state-of-the-art entertainment venue, with a first-floor event space as well as a rooftop deck with a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline that’s booked into 2013 with weddings, birthdays and assorted fundraisers.

Lacuna tenants make good use of these spaces, too, showcasing their talents during “Second Saturdays,” a monthly open house featuring food, beverages and all the art that Lacuna has to offer. “Promoting Lacuna is very organic for us,” states Cacciatore.

Cacciatore has brilliantly attracted the attention of the international artistic community by hosting a contest whose winner earns six months of free loft space.

A firm believer in giving back, Cacciatore has worked with family and staff to beautify the neighborhood, partnering with Alderman Danny Solis to revitalize Pilsen’s historic Plaza Tenochititlan.

An equally firm believer in moving ahead, Cacciatore is a few months away from the grand opening of his next big project. Called Lacuna Fitness, it operates on a similar model to his artist lofts. “It will be an open space for trainers to train their clients,” he explains. “Same concept as Lacuna, with multiple tenants.” Another artist lofts project is also slated to open in the next few months.

Cacciatore owes a lot to his father, who showed him the “ins and outs” of the real estate business while providing him with support on a variety of levels. But it’s Cacciatore’s down-to-earth approach that allows him to thrive in a struggling economy. “Without the tenant there is no landlord,” he states.

About Alanna Chiefari

Alanna Chiefari is a 2007 graduate of Saint Mary's college-Notre Dame. She has been writing for Fra Noi since the winter of 2011 and is absolutely thrilled to feature young Italian-American adults who are off to a great start. Alanna has been working as a client associate on a wealth management team for Merrill Lynch since May of 2007. In her spare time, she loves exploring Italian culture by reading books, trying new restaurants and meeting Italian Americans who are benefiting the community. Follow her on Twitter at @LannaDionne.