Archive for 2007

340 On The Park Gets A Green Light

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

July 25, 2007 – With the honor of being the very first condominium in Chicago to be given LEED certification for green construction and building features, the final touches were put on 340 On The Park and developers called the project complete this month. With so much recent focus on global warming and environmental issues, 340 On The Park is right in vogue with the concerns of many buyers and satisfies the desire to be a part of something positive.

340 rises up to a towering 64 floors and the condos there have a stunning view of Millennium and Grant Parks and Lake Michigan. All of that fresh green landscape and sky blue water adds to the “green” feel of the building. Developers took the green down to sidewalk level with landscaped planters along Randolph as well as on the roof top. The building also features a beautiful garden on the 25th floor, rain water collection system for the plants installed, and the outside of the building is sheathed in a type of insulated glass to help with temperature control.

340 On The Park shows that developers can successfully combine luxury condo construction with respect to the environment and offer quality homes to buyers in the process. The green building trend is much more popular on the East and West coasts, where trends usually start, but it is gaining momentum here in Chicago as well.

For more information about 340 On The Park or other condo developments, check out Chicago New Construction Condos

[tags]340 On The Park, Chicago Illinois, Chicago Condos for Sale[/tags]

New Chicago Condo Builders Section

Monday, December 24th, 2007

American Invsco and The Belgravia Group are our first featured condo builders in our new Condo Developers section, to be updated daily. Get the lowdown on these companies, and learn more about their Chicago luxury and new construction condominiums, like Ontario Place, 565 Quincy, Union Row townhomes, Millennium Centre, and The River City Private Residences. Stay tuned for more featured builders daily.

[tags]Chicago condos, Chicago condo developers, American Invsco, Belgravia Group[/tags]

Flair Tower Proposed for River North

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

December 22, 2007 – With rents on the rise, there has been more developer interest in apartment buildings lately. More than one condo project has been redesigned and converted to apartment units. According to a recent Sun Times article, an empty parking lot in River North is one of the latest sites where plans for an apartment high-rise are in the works. Developer Dan McCaffery wants to build on a site located on the northeast corner of Erie and Franklin Streets, near the three story Flair House. The new development would be called Flair Tower and consist of a 26 story tower plus a low-rise next to Flair House with a total of 201 units.

McCaffery hired architect Joseph Antunovich to work up the design. The historic Flair House originated in the late 1800s and gets its name from the Flair Communications Incorporated advertising agency that has called the building home for years. Flair executive Lee Flaherty also happens to have founded the Chicago Marathon. The development plans are designed to compliment the existing structure and sport a traditional brick facade on the lower levels. Almost 13,000 square feet of space on the bottom floors would be dedicated to retail.

It will prove interesting to see if the tightening condo market continues in 2008 and supports the construction of more Chicago Apartments.

[tags]Flair Tower, Chicago Condos, Chicago Real Estate[/tags]

Emerald Going Green With Incentives

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

December 21, 2007 – When you think of green this time of year it’s probably in the form of evergreen. But Emerald is offering up some green you can cash in on. If you visit their website, you’ll see a spiffy wrapped package with a big green bow. Click on the Holiday Offer and you’ll get a list of incentives available to buyers until December 31st.

There is one free eco-friendly electric scooter left worth about $2,000. New buyers also get $5,000 in upgrades they can use on flooring, cabinets, plumbing fixtures or a number of other finishes. Another $5,000 can be had if you refer another buyer to the project. Finally, if you use the development’s lender, Providence Funding Group, you can take $1,000 off closing costs on your condo. A low 5% down payment is required.

According to the construction update, the south tower is vertical and the north tower moving up. First occupancy of the 212 units is expected in spring of 2008. Some true green features of the development include recycled construction materials, low VOC paint and recycled interior fabrics. Even the sales brochures were made from recycled paper and printed with soy ink.

The 8,000 foot lobby will showcase a private resident bar dubbed Club Emerald. There will also be a common area off the bar called the Green Room which will feature a flat screen television with surround sound and be fully furnished.

If you don’t want to stuff your stocking with Emerald green and would rather have your own mantle and chimney for the holidays, check out the selection of Townhouses in Chicago with cozy living room fireplaces.

[tags]Emerald, Chicago Condos, Chicago Real Estate[/tags]

New Condominium to Rise in Chinatown

Friday, December 21st, 2007

Chicago-based developers Capri Capital Partners LLC and Judson Investment Co. plan to erect a new 1 million square-foot mixed-use condo/retail building in Bronzeville, which is slated to begin construction in early 2008. The building, called The Metropolis, will feature over 320,000 sq. ft. of retail space along with 102 luxury condominiums, 20 of which are reserved for lower-income buyers and priced very reasonably at around $160,000. A similar condo nearby would probably go for around $350,000. Other condominiums in the complex are planned to sell between $250,000 and $400,000.

[tags]Chicago Condos, The Metropolis, Bronzeville Condos[/tags]

Walton on the Park Sets Date to Break Ground

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

December 20, 2007 – Developers Mesirow Financial Real Estate and Enterprise Co. have announced the groundbreaking date of January 21, 2008 for Walton on the Park. This comes on the heels of closing a $135 million construction loan from Corus Bank to finance the first phase of the two tower project. Besides the loan from Corus, the developers and a group of investors have raised roughly $50 million themselves for the project.

The first tower is set to be 39 stories with 198 condos. Enterprise chairman Ron Shipka was quoted in Crain’s as saying they have sold about 43% of the units in the first building, which will be constructed on the south side. The north tower will house 187 condos and those won’t begin marketing until the south tower sales reach 75%, which is expected to be sometime late next year. The Walton website lists one bedroom units from $450,000, two bedroom from $540,000 and three bedrooms from $1.3 million.

Walton on the Park takes its name in part from Washington Square Park, which is located just across the street and is Chicago’s oldest park. Amenities at this Gold Coast development include a sun deck complete with outdoor fireplace, pool, grilling stations and landscaped garden. The Walton Club is slated to be a top notch fitness center and spa for residents. There will also be a concierge at the ready to handle reservations and all the little details in life.

Gold Coast Chicago Condos like Walton on the Park usually command higher prices, but as with most things, you get what you pay for.

[tags]Walton on the Park, Chicago Condos, Chicago Real Estate[/tags]

2006 Chicago Condo Sales Outperform Nation

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Condo sales in Chicago fell in 2006 compared with 2005, but proved to be one of strongest markets nationwide, compared to the many regions that saw far more extreme drops.

On January 16, The New York Times reported that:

Since the middle of 2006, the frenzied condominium market [in New York] and in several other big cities like Las Vegas, Miami and Boston has collapsed. Once roaring sales have slowed to a trickle, sparse inventory has mushroomed into a glut and soaring prices have flattened out and started falling.

Preliminary year-end figures from the Illinois Association of Realtors show that 2006 condo sales in metropolitan Chicago fell 8.2 percent—50,488 units sold, compared with 54,989 units in 2005. Meanwhile, across the nation, condo sales for 2006 fell 10.4 percent to 803,000 units, after 10 straight years of gains.

Chicago area brokers and real estate developers say that it has become harder to sell condo units, but still characterize the market as “normal”—despite the glut of new condo inventory.

“I think buyers are still cautious,” said Michael Maier, vice president of sales and marketing at Chicago-based MCL Companies, a developer. What was once a three to four-week conversion period on a condo or townhouse takes close to 17 weeks now, he added.

“There are still buyers; there just aren't so many investors,” said Maier. “We don't have investors … making the prices go up.”

A bright spot in the outlook for Chicago condos was that their median price actually went up 0.8 percent year over year—from $245,000 to $247,000. This was less than the increase seen nationally, which was 1.1 percent—from $219,600 to $222,000.

However, these price increases came nowhere near to matching the overall national inflation rate for last year, which was 3.4%.

The majority of sales reported by the Illinois Association of Realtors represent existing condos. The figures released recently are expected to be revised upward.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, senior economist at the National Association of Realtors, said at a January 19 conference of Realtors in Chicago that there was nothing for Illinois to worry about, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors.

“Those [other] markets that took off faster than others are struggling now more than others,” said Yun. “The Midwest is stable and mortgage debt ratio is healthy.”

Many local real estate brokers predict that sales are going to pick up after the glacially slow pace set in the last months of 2006. “I think the indication on the street is that the activity has increased. I had more activity in the first 30 days of the year than I did in the previous two months combined,” said Alex Chaparro, president of the Chicago Association of Realtors.

Chaparro said that sellers must be keenly aware of what customers want in order to attract qualified buyers.

“Where is the person going to eat? Where are they going to sit on the couch?” he said. “If there are properties that have sold out, someone has sat down and thought of these things.”

Chicago Home And Condo Inventory Rising & Fewer Closings…

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

There's a lot of talk about perhaps the Chicago market picking up, But so far, there's no sign of it. Now, I'm looking at actual closing numbers here in Chicago as reported by the Chicago Association of Realtors.

Week of March 7 – March 13th

103 Chicago Single family home closings – down 38% from the same week a year ago when 165 homes closed.

231 Condos and townhomes closed, down 23% from the same week in 2006.

I've been keeping close track of the closing numbers since last April and there have only been two weeks where the numbers weren't down.

The average time homes are sitting on the market has increased from 84 days in March 2006 to an average of 131 days now.

Today there area about 15,175 active listings for homes for sale in Chicago…up from about 12,000 in March 2006.

There are 7,100 active condo and townhome listings for sale…up from just about 5,000 last year.

Looks like we have a pretty big supply-demand imbalance here. What do you think?

Prices haven't tanked… but there are signs that sellers are going to have to start slashing prices to sell.

The Sunday papers are filled with Condo Developers and home builders offering incentives… “Six months free mortgage payments,” “free upgrades,” “plasma TV,” in an effort to spur sales.

The big news in the past couple of weeks has been the sub prime mortgage meltdown. In a nutshell, this means that a lot of potential buyers will now be squeezed out of the market. People who could have bought a home last year cannot today because of stricter mortgage financing terms. Some estimates are that this could knock 20% of the buyers out of the pool.

Now, Chicago is still booming. This is not a gloom and doom situation whatsoever, just as long as you're not looking to buy a condo for investment purposes. Downtown Chicago luxury condos are being built as never before…later this week, probably Thursday, I'll have my special report on pre construction Chicago condos ready…watch for it.

Chicago Spire Wins Popular Science Award

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

December 19, 2007 – The Chicago Spire winter newsletter has several interesting bits of information. It noted that Popular Science magazine’s Engineering Grand Award went to the skyscraper. To quote the write up in the magazine, “The Chicago Spire’s seven-sided corkscrew design will be more than just an audacious architectural whim.” The article goes on to explain that the clockwise rotation of the tower floors is designed to move wind flow upwards instead of down onto street and pedestrian level. It will also reduce building movement in high winds. Another fact not many may be aware of is that at 150 stories, people at the upper levels will actually be able to discern the curve of the Earth.

Green features that got a nod of approval include the cooling system that will utilize water from the Chicago River, special reflective glass intended to reduce the number birds fatalities as well as a rainwater collection system that will meet the landscaping needs.

The newsletter also announced that the spa portion of the high-rise will be managed by La Palestra, “health and well-being experts” who will handle the personal training services, nutrition advice and spa treatments. The spa itself, as well as the services it will provide, plans to focus on natural themes and holistic methods.

The 20,000 square foot sales center comprised of two condo unit models on the 18th floor of the NBC Tower overlooks the Spire construction site. Visitors can also view a sampling of models on display from architect and designer Santiago Calatrava’s other projects.

If lofty living at the Spire isn’t on your agenda, there are plenty of Downtown Chicago Condos that may not confirm the world is round but do showcase some great luxury homes.

[tags]Chicago Spire, Chicago Condos, Chicago Real Estate[/tags]

Potential Lake Shore Drive Development Proposed

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

December 18, 2007 – A new high-rise condominium could be in the works for the northern end of Lake Shore Drive. According to a story in the Sun Times, developer J. Paul Beitler is attempting to put together a deal to build a 45 story tower on the parking lot located adjacent to St. Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Chruch on 5649 North Sheridan. The church actually owns the property and Beitler has been working with St. Andrew’s and neighborhood groups to identify concerns and potential problems that construction of the high-rise could cause.

Besides the inevitable traffic impact, one of the sticking points is the need for parking. General consensus is that additional spaces would need to be included in the development and one possible variation of the project includes a large garage that could accommodate at least 600 spaces. Only 274 of those would be needed for the condo, so the remaining spots could be used by church members and local residents.

The entire development, which is designed by architects Pappageorge Haymes, comes at an estimated cost of $100 million. That sum might require a subsidy via tax increment financing. But that would come with stipulations for making a percentage of the condos available at lower, affordable rates. Most of the Lake Shore Drive developments are higher end luxury condos and the requirement for units priced at rates below market value would have to be worked into the budget somehow.

Beitler is optimistic and plans to keep moving forward with the project and attempt to gain zoning approval this coming spring. If so, there could be a fresh Lake Shore Drive development to join the ranks of Pre Construction Condos in Chicago for 2008.

[tags]Lake Shore Drive, Chicago Condos, Chicago Real Estate[/tags]