Archive for the 'Downtown' Category

Latino Cultural Center Hopes to Build New Tower in River North

Friday, May 1st, 2015

The International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, located at 676 N. LaSalle St. in River North, has long been instrumental in raising awareness of Latino cultures in the Chicago area. Since 1985, this non-profit group has presented a myriad of cultural events to the greater Chicago area, celebrating Latino contributions to music, dance, film, and theater.

As Chicago’s Latino population has grown—there are now more than 775,000 people of Latino or Hispanic origin living in Chicago, according to the US Census Bureau—so too has the importance and vision of the Latino Cultural Center. With a total attendance of just 500 in its first year back in ’85, attendance has skyrocketed to over 700,000 people last year alone.

Now, with the announcement of a planned 150,000 square foot tower to be built somewhere downtown, the Center may finally have a facility to match its vision.

First revealed at the Chicago Latino Film Festival earlier this month, the planned Ibero-American Tower would cost an estimated $50 million and would include a new home for the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, as well as space for a museum, classrooms, retail, theaters, and even a hotel. Fittingly, the announcement of the Juan Gabriel Moreno architects-designed tower coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Center.

Of course, there’s still a long way to go to make this dream a reality. Pepe Vargas, the Executive Director of the Latino Cultural Center, said that the Center still needs to choose a development site before beginning to fundraise for the project. They hope to build near their current location, making the tower yet another project in the long line of River North developments that seem to spring up every day.

Vargas has not yet said whether or not the Latino Cultural Center will be seeking funding from the city, state, or federal government. Regardless, the project will require city approval before moving forward.

Gold Coast Gets a Residential High-Rise

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Chicago’s Gold Coast is synonymous with luxury living. From million dollar walk-ups to awe-inspiring high-rises the area is bursting with top-of-the-line real estate and known as one of the best Chicago neighborhoods.

This is exactly why Don Wilson, a local trader, founder, and CEO of DRW Holdings LLC wants in on the action. According to a zoning application filed on July 24, Mr. Wilson is leading a venture to build a residential high rise at State and Elm Streets. Along with Wilson, the project will also include developers Fred Latsko and Mark Hunt.

Preliminary plans include building a forty-unit luxury residential tower at 1149-67 North State Street featuring 4,200 square feet of ground-floor retail and 80 available parking spaces. The developers plan to keep the existing two-story retail space that currently is located within the drafted plans at 1163-67 N. State. However, a few smaller retail structures are headed for demolition that includes a three-story building at 1149 N. State.

The plans proposed in the zoning application highlight a tower that will rise 335 feet, which is twice the currently permitted height of 155 feet, according to city documentation. Consequently, a zoning reclassification must be approved for Wilson and his development team to move forward with the new construction. Reclassification of the zoning parameters requires both support from the residing neighborhood and backing of Alderman Robert Fioretti (2nd).

Yet, when asked about the new plans by Crain’s, Alderman Fioretti stated, “They have yet to reach out to my office. They haven’t reached out to anyone in the community. To sneak this in is unacceptable.”

Aldermen in Chicago have controlled most zoning decisions in the past, which gives them a significant influence over the shape and evolution of neighborhoods. Thus, with Fioretti’s recent statement it is uncertain if the plan will pass.

Luxury Rental Coming to Near West Side

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

West Loop real estate just got an upgrade with the addition of the luxury rental property The Madison at Racine. Located in the bustling Near West Side area, the development includes nine stories and will sit on the northwest corner of Madison Street and Racine Avenue.

The project is a joint venture with Ascend Real Estate Group, locals at Team4 Development LLC, and Intercontinental Real Estate Corp.

Designed by FitzGerald Associates Architects with a 10,000-square-foot retail space on the ground floor, the building will feature 214 units that include convertible, one, and two-bedroom units, and 227 parking spaces.

Residents, who are scheduled to be moving in fall 2014, will enjoy a convenient location where they can walk to work and be just steps away from Chicago’s popular dining scene on Randolph Street. The long list of amenities includes Wi-Fi throughout the building, a courtyard for grilling, and a café bar in the lobby.

The glass-enclosed club room on the ninth floor allows for gorgeous views of the city and is stacked with lounge areas, televisions, and a bar and kitchen for hosting parties. Outdoors, the building’s landscaped sun deck includes seating, a fire pit, pool, and hot tub.

Besides being a luxury rental, striving for an environmental design also sets the building apart with the aim to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Planet-friendly amenities include Zipcar rental service, charging stations for electric cars, and bike room storage. And of course, the ability to walk to work, shopping, and entertainment as well as a close proximity to public transportation are another bonus. Pet owners can take advantage of washing stations and outdoor areas for their furry friends.

The Madison at Racine will be a great addition to a neighborhood that is “over the critical point of residential expansion,” as Rebenson points out in the Tribune article. “A lot of traditional and converted loft condos have been built, but there are no other luxury rental buildings in this area of the West Loop.”

Failed South Loop Condo Project Loses Appeal

Monday, July 1st, 2013

The site of the Columbian at 1160 South Michigan used to be sacred ground in Chicago.  The South Loop real estate was home to the Avenue Motel for decades, where it was a great example of ‘50s Americana style. There were high hopes for its restoration and potential landmark status, which didn’t follow through.

Then came the rumors that the site was to host a colossal jazz museum with the proximity to the Museum campus.  Yet, with undisclosed details the property was transferred to its current developer, Allison Davis and took off in a different direction.

The site became a 46-story, 220 unit high-rise of Chicago condos on the southwest corner of Michigan and Roosevelt.  Records show that the new construction launched by Mr. Davis in 2005, was financed with a $92 million senior loan from Chicago-based Corus Bank and an $18 million junior loan from Fidelity.

At the beginning of March 2009, the Columbian condo projected went south for Davis.  When the real estate market plummeted, his investment in the South Loop was no exception.

Defaulting on both loans, he eventually paid off the Corus loan and reached a forbearance agreement with Fidelity in July to avert full foreclose.  Reports disclose the agreement allowed Fidelity to repossess unsold units in the building in the case of any further defaults.

Less than six months after entering the agreement, Davis defaulted on numerous accounts and a Fidelity subsidiary promptly took over the unsold units that February.

As many troubled developers, owners, and investors did at the time, Davis took action and prompted suit.  Recently, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled against the Davis’ lawsuit for the defaulted $18 million loan.

The market is now in Fidelity’s favor.  When the Columbian was originally developed, Roosevelt Road lacked the retail development the area has today.

Appraisal Research Vice President Gail Lissner told Crain’s that “although the tower faces competition from buildings in the Central Station development nearby, it also stands to benefit from the prospective buyers those buildings will bring into the market.”

Supersized Condos for the Family

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Chicago condos are replacing the need for residents with kids to move away or search for single-family homes in the city.

Couples who are starting families have been known to abandon the city life for more space in the surrounding suburbs. But now, many parents want their kids to enjoy the urban lifestyle with Chicago’s great restaurants, museums, and parks. The growing popularity of larger, 3 or 4 bedroom condos in Chicago allows them to stay put.

And it isn’t just families that want more space. Others enjoy having more room to entertain and host family and friends. Empty-nesters may want to downgrade the size of their home, but they still have a lifetime worth of possessions to store. What’s more, with an increase in people working from home, a spare bedroom for a home office is important for some buyers.

You can find larger condos in Chicago in some of these places:

The Grant, named for its close proximity to Grant Park, is a 54-story luxury condo complex on South Prairie Avenue. The property has already sold half of the 94 3-bedroom units this year, according to the Chicago Tribune. In addition to the appealing size, the building offers views of Lake Michigan and skyline, a fitness center, dog run, children’s playroom and an indoor pool and hot tub.

Belgravia Group recently sold out the West Loop condo developments CA23 and CA3 that offer 75 3-bedroom units, ranging from 1,900 to 1,985 square feet. CA3 even sold out prior to site clearance, according to YoChicago.

The group recently announced yet another West Loop condo development – CA on Adams – that boasts 50 3-bedroom, 3-bath, single-floor units starting at 2,143 square feet. The boutique building will offer private elevator access to every home, private balconies, and floor to ceiling windows.

Lexington Square’s three-bedroom units are also selling rapidly. These homes range from 2,252 to 2,505 square feet in the Bridgeport neighborhood.

Finally, the famous Aqua building includes spacious 3-bedroom condos as well as apartments. Currently, unit 7005 is available for rent. The apartment has 2,000-square-feet of living space, 3 bedrooms, and 3 bathrooms for $7,500 per month.

Whether you’re planning a family, working from home, or simply want more space without leaving behind all that the city has to offer, contact your Chicago Real Estate Agent to help you find the best Chicago condominium for your needs.

South Loop Tower to Add Smaller Duplicate

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

South Loop real estate continues to show speckles of signs of improvement with the latest proposed development.

You may have already heard about the property at 1333 S. Wabash, which is a 28-story building on the former Glashaus site. It’s not exactly a huge boost for the condo market because the building, owned by CMK Companies, will market it as a rental property. But they do see a possible condo transformation in the future.

The development was designed by architect Brininstool + Lynch and has undergone several changes from when it first came on the scene, which include alterations to the arrangement of balconies and parking and an increased number of units.

The most recent development on the property’s progress is the addition of a smaller duplicate building that will be adjoining 1333 S. Wabash. This new construction in Chicago will be a condominium as opposed to a rental like its sister property.

According to Curbed Chicago, the addition in the South Loop will be a smaller, 15-story version of the same building. The condominium will sit at 1345 S. Wabash and contain retail on the ground floor with two stories of parking on top of it. The remaining 13 stories will be units with balconies facing north.

The South Loop neighborhood was hit especially hard during the housing crash, and the growing new development gives hope for the community’s comeback as well as the general real estate conditions throughout Chicago.

Downtown Rent High, But Things to Change Soon

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Rent in downtown Chicago has hit a new high, with prices causing a domino effect of residents downgrading to lower-end apartments and increasing the demand, and hence cost, for those units. Homeowners are taking this opportunity to rent out their properties to help with mortgage payments. With a construction wave on its way, however, supply is soon to exceed demand.

The first quarter of 2013 witnessed an increase in rents at top-tier (Class A) Chicago apartment buildings, to $2.63 per square foot. This marks a 1.9 percent rise in rent prices from last year and a whopping 5.2 percent year-over-year increase, according to Appraisal Research Counselors, a Chicago-based consulting firm.

Effective rents have been steadily on the rise since they bottomed out back in 2009, driven up in part by Chicagoan’s increasing desire in recent years for rental properties. Discouraged by the state of the housing market, and often unable to afford the higher down payment required to get a mortgage these days, many would-be buyers are foregoing a Chicago home in favor of a less permanent commitment, placing the power in the hands of landlords.

Some Chicago homeowners are even finding ways to capitalize on rising rents by converting their homes into partial rental properties, hoping to make up some or all of their expensive monthly mortgage payments.

But things are about to change. A glut of new construction in Chicago means that supply will soon catch up with—and possibly even exceed—demand for apartments in the years to come. As more and more new buildings go up, rents will start to taper off, and may even go south as competition for tenants heats up.

The recent success of several new Chicago developments has served to encourage a greater number of developers to invest in building again. This year alone, seven new high-rises are slated for completion, adding some 2,895 apartment units to the downtown market, with another 2,330 units expected next year. With such a healthy supply of apartment units, landlords will have a hard time raising rent prices in the years to come.

Rents may be sky-high right now, but before too long, the power dynamic will shift towards tenants again.

Chicago Spire to Make a Comeback

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Once slated to be North America’s tallest building, but stalled in 2008 when the housing bubble burst, the Chicago Spire condominium property is headed back toward social prominence.

The tower’s original developer, Garrett Kelleher, bought the raw land in 2006 for a reported $64 million and then took out a $54 million loan to actually build the condominium. While Kelleher has high hopes of resuming work on the building himself, there are currently several investors bidding on the unfinished project.

According to the original plan, Kelleher and Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava were going to build a drill-bit-shaped tower housing condos that would range in price from $750,000 to $2 million.

Unfortunately, when the Chicago condo market tanked with the rest of national real estate, the project was abandoned. But now with the upswing of condo sales in Chicago, and even a surge in new construction, developers are taking interest in the Chicago Spire again.

According to Wall Street Journal, there have been at least a dozen bids fielded by Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), the entity managing the country’s distressed real estate assets. While Garrett Kelleher still holds the title for this property, he does not have day-to-day control.

Other bidders for the Spire include DeBartolo Development of Tampa and Stephen Ross’ Related Cos. of New York. Both are already active developers throughout downtown Chicago—currently, DeBartolo is working on a 42-story apartment tower near Michigan Avenue.

Despite most of the bids being lower than the actual debt of the property, receiving serious bids at all is “the latest sign that competition for land parcels in downtown Chicago is gaining momentum,” according to Wall Street Journal.

Anyone familiar with Chicago can appreciate a developer’s interest in the property, which is located near the famous Navy Pier, and each of the individual units offer a spectacular view of Lake Michigan.

If this statuesque Chicago condo tower sparks your interest, keep in touch with your Chicago real estate agent to find out which bidder is triumphant and when leasing will begin.

Is the North Pier destined for “loftier” life?

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

For decades, pioneering developers and well-financed designers have been converting Chicago warehouses into swanky, hip and supremely desirable loft homes, particularly in the neighborhoods that surround the Loop.

If you’re struggling to place an example, just check out the Union Square Lofts in River North or the Van Buren Lofts in the West Loop. Buildings now 95-100 years old boast some of the most popular loft-style condos for sale in Chicago.

Chicago condo developers began trending toward warehouse loft conversions in the early 1990s, and their popularity and demand has only continued to grow. Loft condos in Chicago offer a trendy, unique living environment that appeal to those who enjoy being near downtown and prefer open, airy layouts in their home.

Of course it comes as no surprise that these lofts boast an historic feel. The warehouse that is now home to the Union Square Lofts was originally built in 1918, until the empty building was converted to loft condos in the 1990s. In the West Loop, the Van Buren lofts hold a similar story—once an active paper mill, the building now offers units with 10-12-foot concrete ceilings, concrete columns, open bedrooms and 4-inch-wide wood plank floors.

Now, Chicago is looking at its newest loft conversion: the North Pier Terminal in Streeterville. Here stands a 547,200-square foot brick building located along the Ogden slip. It was built in 1905 and originally intended as an exhibition center, and in the late 1980s was converted into an office building. If you’re a Chicago foodie, you may be familiar with this building, as it currently houses the Fox & Obel bistro and grocery store.

Some have questioned the wisdom of adding new lofts to the downtown area right now, when there are already 5,200 new units under contract to be built between now and 2014. In an interview with Chicago Real Estate Daily, the senior vice-president of the Weitzman Group Inc., Peter Bazeli, said the units at the North Pier Terminal would differentiate significantly with their true loft status and lakefront location (just steps from Navy Pier).

Current plans do not reveal how many loft units will be included in the conversion.

Does anyone know what’s happening with Glashaus?

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Here’s what we know: in September 2012, Chicago-based real estate development firm CMK Companies purchased a defaulted loan for the highly coveted lot at 1333 S. Wabash in the South Loop. Earlier this year, CMK announced their intentions to construct a 25-story rental building at the site—obviously looking to capitalize on Chicago’s booming downtown rental market.

But since that time nothing more has been heard.

The Piedmont Group had grand ideas for 1333 S. Wabash in 2007 when it rolled out its plan to construct a modern residential tower that resembled a glass house, homage to the buildings original name Glashaus. However, when the market began to nosedive so did the plans for Glashaus. Money dried up and construction was halted. The site sat empty, a representation of the stalled downtown Chicago condo market.

Flash forward six years and CMK has picked up where Piedmont left off. A zoning application has been submitted to the city detailing CMK’s plans to finish Glashaus and bring the building to market by late 2014. CMK happily acknowledges that the previously stalled project has essentially afforded its firm a three month head start in construction and will help expedite the process.

Despite a number of unsold condos in the South Loop, CMK sees potential in the strong downtown rental market. Plus the location is ideal, as the construction is near a stretch of bars and restaurants in the South Loop and is extremely accessible to CTA.

The building, designed by Brininstool & Lynch LTD., will boast a 200-car parking garage and 3,000 square feet of commercial retail space. The goal is to convert into condos, at a later date, if the market allows. The 25-story building will have roughly 269-rental units and will build off the original renderings for the failed GlasHaus proposal.

As Chicago’s downtown rental market remains red hot, consumers will see a continued increase in inventory.