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Old August 23rd, 2005, 03:24 PM   #221
24gotham
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicago Shawn
The Walgreens at State and Randolph (MoMo site) will close for good on Friday the 26th. It had been in business at that site for 79 years.

September is going to be a great month!
While it is no loss to see that location close, it is Walgreens oldest location still in operation (till Friday that is...)
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 04:48 PM   #222
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Buh-bye, Walgreens!
Hello, MoMo!
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 11:01 PM   #223
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Good ******* riddance!!!
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Old August 24th, 2005, 06:16 AM   #224
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Jefferson Tower is topped out....




Trucking away tower crane sections...




Turned out a little better than I had expected, but still not a great looking building any means. I don't think the baby shit brown paint job will help either, but at least this will be a two-tone job instead of one monolithic color block like Admiral's Pointe, another Low-end-burg masterpiece. I do think though the balconies were executed nicely, they work well in this one and give the facades some depth, rather than completley detract from it IMO. On a positive note, the cannyonization of Lake Street and the Green Line is moving westward, and some much needed density is being added to the West Loop.

One more, a contextual shot from June...

This tower does add a nice little foothill in front of the mountain range.
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Old August 24th, 2005, 02:48 PM   #225
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Central Station Project Gets 260 Condos
By Mark Ruda
Last updated: August 24, 2005 06:39am

CHICAGO-A vacant office building in the 1300 block of S. Michigan Avenue will be replaced by an $80-million condominium tower, the newest piece to the Central Station development. Central Station, LLC president D. Timothy Desmond tells GlobeSt.com his company expects to begin construction of the 32-story, 260-unit tower at 1335-77 S. Michigan Ave. next spring.

Desmond says units, which will average 1,300 sf, will likely sell in the $300 per sf neighborhood. That would be comparable to Museum Park Place, according to Appraisal Research Counselors’ second quarter “Residential Benchmark Report,” which notes second-quarter sales at the building at 1841 S. Calumet Ave. have averaged $323 per sf at 1,266 sf per unit. The Enterprise Cos. is building Museum Park Place.

Designed by Pappageorge/Haymes Ltd., the building will include 9,300 sf of ground-floor retail space as well as a 301-space parking garage in six stories. The retail space will be added to a S. Michigan Avenue inventory already is earmarked for at least three restaurants, according to testimony at a recent plan commission meeting.

After getting a plan commission endorsement, plans for the 350-foot building are expected to be considered next week by the city council’s committee on zoning. Meanwhile, Central Station, LLC must close on its purchase of the 24,207-sf site at the northeast corner of Michigan Avenue and 14th Street.

Another issue to be settled may be access to the parking garage, originally planned for 14th Street. However, the department of planning and development recommended garage access from an alley behind the building, says attorney John George, representing Central Station. Alderman Madeleine Haithcock has since suggested access from 14th Street.

Central Station, being developed by Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises and Fogelson Cos., is in its 11th year of construction. “It gives me great pleasure to see how the development is unfolding,” says plan commission member Doris B. Holleb.
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Old August 24th, 2005, 02:49 PM   #226
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Lincoln Property Adds 278 Rental Units to South Loop
By Mark Ruda
Last updated: August 23, 2005 07:50am

CHICAGO-Rather than another condominium building, a 278-unit multifamily rental building is slated for the southeast corner of 14th and State Street. “There’s a need for it,” Dallas-based Lincoln Property Co. senior vice president Brian Byrne tells GlobeSt.com.

Lincoln Property Co.’s $60-million project was endorsed recently by the plan commission, which also blessed construction of another 260 condominiums in the 1300 block of S. Michigan Avenue. The latter building is the latest addition to the massive Central Station project, which has fueled the South Loop development boom. Most multifamily buildings constructed or under construction are condominiums, however.

The one- and two-bedroom units will range from 790 sf and 1,075 sf, and are expected to command rents ranging from $1,600 a month to $2,000 a month. The two-parcel, 40,323-sf site is under contract, Byrne says, with a closing expected by the end of the year. Financing is in place, he adds, and the 22-month construction job is expected to begin early next year.

The 22-story rental building will have 4,000 sf of ground-floor retail space as well as a three-story, 195-space parking garage. In addition, Lincoln Property Co. is turning an 8,800-sf lot across 14th Street into a gated park for residents of the building, according to the department of planning and development.

“We’ve had a number of occasions to review this project,” says Near South Planning Board president and executive director Bonnie Sanchez-Carlson, voicing support for the building proposed for 1401 S. State St. “We appreciate the developer’s decision to re-evaluate the parking.”

Lincoln Property Co. has nine multifamily projects in the suburbs, including three in Naperville and two in Schaumburg. The company also has holdings in Bolingbrook, Villa Park, Willowbrook and Yorkville. The Villa Park property is the conversion of a former Ovaltine factory into 344 one- and two-bedroom loft apartments.
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Old August 25th, 2005, 06:09 PM   #227
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Chicago's new downtown

August 25, 2005

BY DAVID ROEDER Business Reporter


The heart of Chicago pounds stronger than ever. You can hear it over the daily thrumming of Chicago life, amid the tourists scavenging North Michigan Avenue, through the 24-hour cycle of the Loop, to the new neighborhoods carved from freight yards and warehouses on the Near South Side.

Downtown hasn't had it so good in years, not since the 1920s. There were few cars then and little competition. The transit lines all went to the Loop, so why go anywhere else?

Today, the question for many Chicagoans is the same. Their banks, cleaners, favorite nightspots, college classrooms and dorms and, increasingly, homes, are downtown.

That's a lot to put in a tight space, so the result was inevitable: Downtown has burst its old boundaries.

Going downtown? In the 1960s, that meant the Loop and a few surrounding blocks.

Today, downtown can mean anywhere from Lincoln Park Zoo to McCormick Place. Based on a consensus of what experts say holds together as downtown, let's define it as stretching from Division on the north to Roosevelt on the south, and from the lake west to Halsted.



You can crystallize the changes downtown in the appearance of two works of public art. The first came in 1967, when thousands of government payrollers, art-lovers and the merely curious gathered for what was a shining moment for the first Mayor Daley -- the unveiling of the Picasso sculpture in what was then called the Civic Center Plaza in the heart of the Loop. It was a huge morale boost for a downtown down on its heels.

Back then, jobs were following the migration to the suburbs, where ample cheap land awaited. State Street had lost its luster. Landmark restaurants like Fritzel's and the Blackhawk were still around, but business was sagging. At night, people fled downtown.

Today, the optimism about downtown is epitomized by an artistic coup engineered by the current Mayor Daley. It's The Bean -- formally known as Cloud Gate, but anyone who has seen it knows why its nickname has stuck. Not quite done but set to be unveiled Sunday, its appeal is its seamless refraction, pulling together observer, buildings, sky.

The Bean draws a happy picture of a 21st century city. But it misses a few details. In the expanded downtown, affordable housing is an exile. Jobs are leaving.

Jobs down, housing booming

The central business district -- basically the Loop -- is down toabout 187,000 private-sector jobs from 220,000 in 1991, according to a survey by the Illinois Employment Security Department. What job growth there's been has come in the expanded downtown, which, under the state's definition, reaches roughly to North Avenue, Halsted and Roosevelt. That outer business ring has 294,000 private-sector jobs now vs. 278,000 in 1991, the survey found.

Meanwhile, a hot housing market has developers converting antiquated office buildings into condos. New residential high-rises are planned for the tiniest swatches of open land. Any old factory near downtown seems a quaint survivor.

What got us here? A thousand decisions -- with a big assist from luck, natural forces and cheap money. It's not every city that has one of the world's great freshwater sources lapping at its limits. Also, Chicago has an engaged citizenry that even during the bad years supported museums and other downtown institutions.

Mayor Daley deserves a hand for planting flowers and turning the schools upside-down to win middle-class acceptance. Daley probably has a bigger role in downtown's renaissance than anyone. He's put his political capital into many areas, from aggressive use of city subsidies that spur new construction to long-term public works such as realigning Lake Shore Drive to create a Museum Campus, expanding the city's front yard.

Credit also goes to the late Mayor Harold Washington for bolstering city services. While Washington was mayor, developers expanded downtown office space by 40 percent, proving that business grew quite comfortable with Chicago's first black mayor.

A 'see-through' city?

Much more happened outside city government. Decades ago, risk-takers like Arthur Rubloff, Phil Klutznick and Ferdinand Kramer saw opportunity where others saw only slums. Investors today follow their examples, with low interest rates a wind at their back. The builders and the banks that finance them chase opportunities afforded by a huge market of baby boomers and their children who have decided city living is exciting and fashionable.

Appraisal Research Counselors Ltd. says almost 30,000 multifamily units -- owner-occupied or rental -- have been added to the area since 1990. Most have gone up since 1997, with downtown getting an average of 3,100 new housing units a year the last seven years.

High-rise dwellers downtown often complain about skyscrapers rising next door. A lot of that is over their lost views. But it points up questions about whether too much of a good thing is at hand. And, amid all the new housing -- downtown's population has grown nearly 50 percent since the 1970 census -- hangs the hard question of what kind of community the new downtown is becoming.

Real estate mogul Sam Zell has said Chicago is creating a see-through city. Look at a residential high-rise some weeknight, and see how few lights are on, or notice how the balconies are empty even on the warmest evenings. Many condos being built are unoccupied for long stretches. Market experts estimate that about 20 percent of downtown condo sales are to speculators who don't live in them but plan to "flip" them to another buyer. Others are sold to people who want a part-time city residence -- a place to crash after a night at the orchestra or a long day of billable hours. These buyers pay the same real-estate taxes as full-time residents, but their absence means there's less commerce on the streets below than meets the eye.

A civic group in the West Loop has begun a campaign to encourage residents to patronize local stores -- some of whose owners say sales have barely nudged upward despite massive growth in housing.

'Big boxes' in South Loop

The situation is better in the South Loop, where residents are seeing an explosion of big-box stores on Roosevelt Road, fast becoming the area's discount draw.

The regenerated downtown has had the biggest impact on business on State Street -- Chicago's new college town. A collection of schools in the South Loop brings thousands of students onto State Street, where stores now cater to them.

Nearby, people lounge on the lawn of the Millennium Park's Jay Pritzker Pavilion. From the bandshell there, your eyes wander to the Prudential Building, now overshadowed by its neighbors. In 1967, its height and views up and down the lakefront made it a place to thrill a little kid with its observation deck, now long since closed.

There are things about the old downtown some miss -- the Stop and Shop, Mayor's Row, a funky country bar called the R&R, the newsstand at Randolph and Michigan.

Making it last

Still, the downtown of The Bean has more to offer than what welcomed the Picasso. Start with the Museum Campus. Its creation gave the biggest boost to the lakefront since A. Montgomery Ward took on city fathers 100 years ago and gave us Grant Park.

In 1967, demographics were against downtown. Now, they're with it. More people choose to live near where they work and play. They are suburbanites who got tired of living too far of a commute away from things. Or their children have grown, and now they want to be near downtown's attractions.

No one knows how long downtown's upswing will last. Downtown has secured its appeal as a place to live; now, it will have to work harder on jobs, tricky because the onetime core of the local economy -- manufacturing -- is bleeding away.

It also will have to leave a place for the poor and middle class. The city's center has grown enormously. But will it have room for the oddball places, the bargain basements and the friendly neighbors that made city living attractive in the first place?

DOWNTOWN THEN . . .

Boundaries: Basically the Loop -- Lake to Van Buren, Wabash to Wells
Population (1970 census):
4,953


. . . AND NOW

Boundaries: Division to Roosevelt, Lake Michigan to Halsted
Population (2000 census): 16,388 for Loop; 70,137 for expanded downtown (up from 46,820 in 1970)


Downtown Chicago's Growth Plates

http://www.suntimes.com/special_sect.../downtown.html
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Old August 26th, 2005, 06:41 AM   #228
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This is from McGraw Hill Construction and ENR's weekly analysis of a particular building type. Looks like Chicago is the run-away victor in this week's chart (retail construction).

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Old August 26th, 2005, 06:47 AM   #229
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Damn, clear winner too.
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Old August 26th, 2005, 08:25 PM   #230
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On today's State Street, hip, newer is theme

August 26, 2005

BY SANDRA GUY Staff Reporter


State Street is again a great street, but it's no longer the 1960s-era street for mid-America.

Now, it's dotted with retailers that aim to appeal to college students, office workers and the upscale residents of high-priced Loop condos.

Stores that thrived in the '60s and made it to the new century have changed to keep up, and many are struggling anyway. Marshall Field's now features luxury boutiques run by outside retailers. Carson Pirie Scott, draped in scaffolding, is trying to escape the demise of other mid-tier department stores. Sears struggles to compete with hip, newer neighbors such as H&M, Forever 21 and Nordstrom Rack, as well as State Street staples like Field's, Carson's, Old Navy and Filene's Basement.

The 79-year-old Walgreens drugstore at 151 N. State St. -- the longest continuously operating store in the Deerfield company's chain -- will meet the wrecking ball at the end of this year, disappearing to make way for a luxury high-rise condo tower. Even after the oldest store is demolished, four Walgreen stores will remain on the iconic downtown street.

A Central Loop tax-increment financing district provided the impetus for the student housing, condo buildings and richly renovated theaters downtown that caught retailers' eye.

Gone are all but one wig shop, and several low-priced clothing stores are expected to give way to tenants that can pay higher rents.

A project to paint and dramatically light the L tracks on Wabash Avenue next year should boost retail prospects, too.

In the '60s, North Michigan Avenue -- the Magnificent Mile -- had high-end retail names like Bonwit Teller and I. Magnin's to go with architectural gems such as the Wrigley Building, the Water Tower and Fourth Presbyterian Church, though it wasn't until 1970 that the John Hancock Center opened.

The national chains that are such a part of the fabric of Boul Mich now -- Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Cartier -- to name just a few -- are relatively recent additions. Tourists, shoppers and weekend visitors boosted the city's retail sales to $2.2 billion last year in the Loop and the Magnificent Mile combined. That compares with a mere $817.4 million in 1967 in the greater Loop area stretching south to Roosevelt Road.

Nameplates have come and gone, just as fashions change. But some things keep coming back. Just take a look around: You'll see plenty of hip-huggers, again.

Then, 1969

Pedestrians pass under the large corner clock at State and Madison. (SUN-TIMES LIBRARY)

Now, 2005

Today's northbound view shows the addition of landscaping. (JOHN J. JIM/SUN-TIMES )

Then, 1965

Pawn shops and peep shows lined the 400 block of South State Street in December 1965.

Now, 2005

The '60s stores have made way for the Harold Washington Library of today. (JOHN J. KIM/SUN-TIMES)
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Old August 26th, 2005, 08:26 PM   #231
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DOWNTOWN THEN . . .

August 26, 2005


Some snapshots comparing downtown Chicago by day in the Picasso era and today's age of "The Bean":


THEN:
Tallest building:
Civic Center, known today as the Daley Center (648 feet)
Lunch at the Berghoff (wiener schnitzel): $1.50 (1967)
Beer at the Berghoff: 30 cents a glass of Berghoff beer, 35 cents a stein (1967)
Jobs: 477,499 (1984 -- oldest data available)
Cost of an L ride: 30 cents
Cost per square foot of office space: $5 to $7
Average apartment rent: $400 to $700




. . . AND NOW


Tallest building:
Sears Tower (1,450 feet)
Lunch at the Berghoff (wiener schnitzel): $12.95
Beer at the Berghoff: $3.50 a glass of Berghoff beer, $3.75 a stein
Jobs: 481,875
Cost of an L ride: $1.75
Cost per square foot of office space: $10 to $26
Average apartment rent: $800 to $2,000

Then, 1960s
The Prudential building dominates the scenery in this photo of the pre-Millennium Park area. (CHICAGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY )


Now, 2005


Greenery dots the Millennium Park landscape along Randolph Street. Eight acres are peppered with a variety of trees. (TOM CRUZE/SUN-TIMES)

Then, 1969

The notorious ''Skid Row'' can be seen in this shot looking west down Madison Street. (AP)

Now, 2005


Madison is a commercial corridor today. (TOM CRUZE/SUN-TIMES)
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Old September 1st, 2005, 01:09 AM   #232
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Commercial Real Estate News


Downtown Condo Conversions on Record Pace

By Mark Ruda of GlobeSt.com

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 - CHICAGO-The Downtown multifamily market is seeing a record year for condominium conversions, with the pace triple the level typically seen, according to Appraisal Research Counselors. The firm’s “Residential Benchmark Report” puts the number of converted units so far this year at nearly 3,000, with nearly half of them sold, and projects the total to hit 3,893 by the end of the year.


The Downtown area saw just 652 rental units converted to condominiums last year, according to the firm, with the average being about 1,000 since 1991. The previous high-water mark was the 1,881 units converted in 2001, Appraisal Research Counselors says.


“Interestingly, many of the recent conversions have included the newest, most luxurious and well-located rental buildings, which have been constructed in the past five years,” according to the report, co-authored by vice presidents Gail L. Lissner and Ron DeVries. “With this type of new inventory on the market, the price levels of conversion product are now very close to many of the new construction projects in the market.”


Fitting that profile are the 254-unit 2 E. Erie, the 480-unit Park Millennium, the 283-unit west tower of Grand Plaza and 452-unit 400 N. LaSalle St. Units in the latter two buildings are priced above $400 per sf, according to Appraisal Research Counselors.


Also undergoing conversions are the 505-unit North Pier Tower at 474 N. Lake Shore Dr., 133-unit 2625 N. Clark St., 468-unit 10 E. Ontario St. and 398-unit 1400 N. Lake Shore Dr. Other possibilities, though, are 222 E. Pearson St., 700 S. Federal St. and 1140 N. LaSalle St., which also changed hands this summer, the report notes.
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Old September 4th, 2005, 07:00 PM   #233
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Record price in Buck deal
New office tower at 111 S. Wacker shows market's hot

By Alby Gallun

Developer John Buck is close to selling a recently built Wacker Drive high-rise for more than $400 a square foot, which would set a new price record for downtown office buildings.

An unidentified German investor has agreed to pay about $410 a square foot, or $410 million, for the 1-million-square-foot skyscraper at 111 S. Wacker, according to people familiar with the transaction. The building was completed in June and cost about $280 million to build.

Certain provisions in the contract could shift some leasing costs to Buck, lowering the effective price, but it is still expected to top a record set 15 years ago when a Japanese insurer paid $369 a square foot for the 50-story office tower at 181 W. Madison St.

While occupancy rates are the lowest they've been in more than a decade, office building prices have soared the last few years as investors, unimpressed by low bond yields and a weak stock market, have poured money into real estate.

Landlords are capitalizing on the opportunity to cash out. Prentiss Properties Trust of Dallas recently reached a deal to sell its 30-story building at 123 N. Wacker for about $173 million, or $320 a square foot (Crain's, Aug. 29), and trophy properties including 311 S. Wacker and 181 W. Madison are back on the market after changing hands only three years ago.

German investors have been especially aggressive buyers of Chicago office buildings in recent years. A real estate arm of Deutsche Bank A.G. bought the building at 1 North Wacker in late 2002. Deutsche Bank is not buying 111 S. Wacker, a source says.

Others active in Chicago include Jamestown, a German syndicator, which has been scouting for office acquisitions; Estein & Associates USA Ltd., which represents US Treuhand, a German investment fund that owns a majority stake in two downtown office buildings, and Atlanta-based West Wind Capital Partners, which owns stakes in two downtown high-rises. Representatives of Jamestown and Estein say their firms are not buying the Buck building; a West Wind executive did not return a phone call.

"(German investors) still view Chicago as a tremendous investment opportunity relative to other parts of the world," says John T. Murphy, executive vice-president of Chicago-based MB Real Estate Inc.

Executives at John Buck Co. did not return phone calls.

Launched in 2002 and owned by an investment fund run by John Buck Co., 111 S. Wacker, a 51-story skyscraper, is about 80% leased.

[img]http://***************************/random/og090505e.gif[/img]

http://chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=17674
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Old September 5th, 2005, 08:17 AM   #234
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From the Near West Gazette. I've never heard of the development in bold:


By Marie Balice Ward


(9/2/05) - Three major new developments, literally next door to each other, will irreversibly change the look of State Street in the South Loop area.
Parking lots and unkempt property will be replaced with mid-rise and highrise condominium buildings. Buyers of these new residential units to date are empty nesters relocating from the suburbs, young professional couples, and suburban dwellers seeking city weekend housing.


One Place Condominiums
One Place Condominiums will be a ten-story mid-rise at the corner of 8th and State Streets. Deeded parking will be available for each residential unit along with a public parking garage that will not be visible from State Street. There will be no investment garage space ownership (individuals will not be allowed to buy extra parking spots as an investment), said sales director Judy Walton.
Residential units will be situated on floors three through ten. The other floors will feature retail and commercial space and a 40,000 square foot, 24-hour Xport Fitness club with a three-story climbing wall, among other features.
Groundbreaking is scheduled for this winter, with occupancy anticipated in June or July 2007.
One- and two-bedroom units range from $159,000 to $299,000, with size ranging to slightly more than 1,000 square feet. One-bedroom-plus den penthouse terrace units start at $300,000, and two-bedroom, two-bath penthouse terrace units begin at $334,000. Balconies also are featured, and building amenities besides the health club include a recreation room, bike storage, and storage lockers.
Within the first five weeks of sales, the building was 85% sold. It is a development of One Place Condominiums, LLC, with Caccia-toreHarper as exclusive broker. The architect is FitzGerald Associates Architects.


Astoria Towers Residences and Spa
A 30-story art deco highrise, Astoria Tower will rise at the northeast corner of 9th and State Streets. Development cost is estimated at $80 million for 241 condominiums with a full-time concierge. As with One Place Condominiums, the architect is FitzGerald Associates Architects.
The building will feature a stepped design with curved bay facades on the east and west sides. The units will have floor-to-ceiling windows with nine-foot ceilings.
Prices for the units, which will start at 574 square feet in size, will be about $170,800 for a studio to $899,800 for the largest three-bedroom penthouse. No more than nine units will occupy each floor.
The residents-only spa will be located in 12,261 square feet on the tenth floor and offer a swimming pool, exercise room, herbal therapy room, salon, men’s and women’s changing rooms, and two landscaped terraces.
Other building amenities will occupy nine floors and include a business center and conference room, billiard and recreation room, library, golf simulator, and private viewing movie theater. Parking for 244 cars on levels one through nine also will be included.
The Frankel & Giles sales office at 9th and State Streets will open on Saturday, Sept. 17. A temporary sales office located at 1530 S. State St. already has secured more than 60 sales, said sales manager Jim Psyhogios. Groundbreaking is scheduled for June 2006.


Third development
The developers who created the nearly sold out State Place on the former site of the State and 11th Street Police Headquarters building are creating a mixed use condominium development at the southeast corner of 9th and State Streets. The property had long been owned by the City, which had issued a request for proposals for development.
Yet unnamed, this new structure will contain 230 units. It is a development of Northern Realty, Near North Partners, Magellan Develop-ment, Mesirow Financial, and the Canyon Johnson Urban Fund.
Michael Tobin, managing principal of development for Northern Realty, said the partnership will submit its plans for approval by the City Council sometime this fall and already has shown the plans to several community groups. “We are very excited about this project,” said Tobin, noting it may combine a highrise, a mid-rise, and loft units with about 20,000 square feet of retail space along State Street.
While particulars including floor plans and price ranges are in the planning stages, the developers do plan to feature a landscaped roof garden about one-half acre in size, a business center, a library, and community room and entertainment center.
Groundbreaking is expected to take place in about 12 to 15 months, subsequent to City Council approval. A sales office is likely to open in spring 2006. Northern Realty will be the marketing agent.
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Old September 5th, 2005, 08:49 AM   #235
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Have to keep an eye out for that one.
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Old September 5th, 2005, 05:21 PM   #236
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New look in market for condos
Former rental units are competing with new construction

By John Handley
Tribune staff reporter
Published September 5, 2005


The biggest wave of condominium conversions in 25 years has hit Chicago's already hot downtown residential market.

But its effect on a market with thousands of new-construction condos coming onstream is uncertain. While the role of condo speculators worries market watchers, downtown sales are running at a record pace.

"Condo conversions are way up. We could total more than 4,000 this year," said Gail Lissner, vice president of Appraisal Research Counselors, a Chicago firm that tracks downtown residential sales.

Lissner said the rate of conversion from rental apartments to condos is more than four times the annual average over the last 15 years. "This is the best year for condo conversions since 1979," she added.

As evidence gathers that the nation's housing market may be in line for a change, condo conversions offer advantages: to current tenants, price discounts; to apartment building owners, top dollar for high-quality rental buildings because developers can get in on the currently low interest rates and offer a product that is available now.

Converters can count on 20 percent of their buyers coming from tenants' ranks, according to James Kinney, president of Rubloff Residential Properties in Chicago.

Dennis Flynn has been renting since 1994 at 474 N. Lake Shore Drive, formerly known as North Pier Tower. But now that the 51-story building, constructed in 1990, is going condo, he has decided to buy.

"The price was right compared to other condos in the area," said Flynn, a trader at the Chicago Board of Trade.

"The location is great. We bought two units on the 16th floor and are combining them. My wife is picking out the finishes now," Flynn said.

Rubloff's Kinney says that some conversion tenants who buy "then flip their unit at a profit because of the discount. Investors who buy conversion units may immediately rent them back to the current tenants."

Though conversions are attractive, new construction still dominates, Lissner said, with 2,921 units announced in the first half of this year.

But downtown condo conversion units total 2,105 so far this year, and one developer sees some problems as a result.

"Apartments built in the last five years that are now being converted pose competition for new condos under construction in some parts of downtown," said Alan Lev, president of Belgravia Group, developer of two condo towers planned for 600 N. Lake Shore Drive.

"The conversions have the advantage of delivery time and the ability of buyers to see the units. For apartment building owners, the real bang is to sell or convert themselves," Lev added.

Lissner contends, however, that the surge in conversions will not result in a glut of units downtown. "The current sales rate shows the market is absorbing the units," she said.

Larger, pricier

Conversions are not competing against resale units, she said. "The bulk of condo conversions are in buildings less than 5 years old. This product is larger, pricier and more luxurious than older resale units."

While Lissner maintains that downtown Chicago is headed for a banner year in residential sales, her firm's second-quarter report warns: "Despite the euphoria over the sales results for 2004 and now for 2005, risks remain." These include artificially inflated demand by speculators, increasing construction costs, a lack of sizable job growth in the city and a large number of unit deliveries in a rising interest rate environment, the report said.

The number of downtown apartments converting to condos says a lot about strong demand but also about the market forces that are prompting building owners to take their profits now.

"In today's [national] housing boom or bubble--whatever your take--anything that's not moving is being turned into a condo," said John McIlwain, senior fellow for housing at the Urban Land Institute, a think tank based in Washington, D.C.

"The rental market has been soft and doesn't pay off, so apartment buildings are being sold to condo converters, who have been paying skyrocketing prices. This is happening in strong housing markets, like Chicago," McIlwain said.

But he cautioned that nationally "we may start to see a cooling off in the course of the next year, including an increase in inventory [of homes] and longer times on the market.

"Everyone would pay attention if mortgage interest rates would go way north of 7 percent," he said.

Whatever the short-term outlook, though, he sees the demographics to support a strong condo market in the future. "The move to condos is a long-term trend for the next five to 10 years," McIlwain said. "Boomers and empty-nesters are moving into the city. The pull of city living is very attractive."

So, the conversions continue. "Real estate investment trusts are net sellers of apartment buildings because prices are so high," said Steven Blank, senior fellow for finance at the Urban Land Institute.

"It's definitely a frothy market for buying apartment buildings," he said. "The condo converters believe they can take advantage of today's low interest rates by bringing the product to market quickly. The quickest way is condo conversion."

Exit strategy

As Lissner put it: "Now every developer is building [rental] apartments with the exit strategy of condo conversion."

One reason for apartment building owners to sell now is that "they don't want to miss the market," said John McLinden, partner of Centrum Properties Inc., a Chicago firm active in both condo conversions and new-construction condos.

Centrum and MCZ Development Corp. are converting the 52-story Park Millennium at 222 N. Columbus Drive, and two-thirds of its 480 units were sold in 90 days. "We had expected a three-year sellout, but now we're projecting 12 months," McLinden said.

While some developers are cautious of speculators, McLinden said they serve a useful purpose: "They help seed the project and get developers and bankers comfortable."

He maintains that condo conversions serve a different buyer than new condos.

"Conversions are for buyers with an immediate need, not for people who can wait two years to move in, like empty-nesters," he said.

Though Bob and Trudy Hull chose a conversion, rather than new construction, they are making their condo like new, with new cabinets, plumbing, appliances and wood flooring.

"We wanted to take advantage of Chicago and use it as escape," said Bob Hull, who with his wife bought a two-bedroom at Park Millennium.

He will retire from a foundry business in La Porte, Ind., in December, and the couple will maintain their permanent residence there. They plan to use their Chicago apartment at least twice a month for three or four days at a time, he said.

"We knew what we wanted after looking at eight or 10 existing or under-construction condos," Hull said.

Not all condo conversions are in relatively new apartment buildings. Also adding to the large pool of available conversion units are aging office buildings that are being adapted for residential. These include such prominent structures as the Palmolive Building on North Michigan Avenue and the former Wards headquarters on West Chicago Avenue.

And those numbers may increase, according to Brent Ryan, co-director of the City Design Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"The new Class A offices being built in the west side of the Loop will pull tenants out of other buildings," he said.

"Since the office market already is weak, that will leave old Class C buildings as almost non-starters as offices, but possible for residential conversion," he said.

The converter of the vintage office building at 310 S. Michigan Ave., near Millennium Park, believes the residential market in downtown Chicago has strong legs.

"The debate is between those who believe we're in a boom-bust real estate cycle and the music will stop at some time and those who believe lifestyle choices are creating a back-to-the-city movement," said Louis D'Angelo, president of Metropolitan Properties.

"There's no bubble in Chicago. There's a steady absorption of residential units," D'Angelo said.

He predicted that demand around Millennium Park will outstrip supply in the next three to five years. "This will be the hottest submarket in the city," he said.

"These vintage properties," he said, "are clearly desirable for residential because of the guaranteed views of the park, harbor and the lake."
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Old September 6th, 2005, 02:09 PM   #237
BVictor1
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Attention Shoppers: Field’s A Landmark
By Mark Ruda
Last updated: September 2, 2005 11:12am


(For more retail coverage, click GlobeSt.com/RETAIL.)

CHICAGO-Even though it has changed hands three times in recent years, and the name of the long-time retailer could change as well, the Marshall Field’s store at 111 N. State St. will stay pretty much the same, right down to its signature clock and name. While a city commission Thursday recommended landmark status for the property now owned by Federated Retail Holdings Inc., 42nd Ward Alderman Burton Natarus thinks he has a way to keep the Marshall Field’s name from becoming extinct.

“The name Marshall Field’s is so synonymous with Chicago,” Natatus says. “I hope we put a plaque on all four corners of the building. That should be a message to the corporate hierarchy.” The Marshall Field’s name is in jeopardy as a result of the flurry of retail takeovers.

The nine-story, 1.6-million-sf building takes up an entire city block bounded by State, Washington and Randolph streets as well as Wabash Avenue and the overhead Chicago Transit Authority elevated tracks. The designation, recommended Thursday by the commission on Chicago landmarks, includes restrictions on altering exterior and interior elements such as an iconic clock at State and Washington streets as well as two interior atriums, one of them traditionally used to house a tall tree during the holiday shopping season.

“Chicagoans have been meeting under the clock since 1897,” says Heidi Sperry of the city’s department of planning and development. The clock was memorialized by a Norman Rockwell painting that graced the front of the Saturday Evening Post in 1945.

Attorney Rick Wendy, who has represented Target Corp., May Co. Stores and now Federated Retail Holdings in discussions with the department of planning and development, says the new owners consented to the landmark designation, which restricts changes to the building. The flagship store changed hands in a $39.2-million deal last year, according to property records.

“We have worked with Heidi Sperry and Brian Goeken over a period of many months, and both of them are among the best representatives the city has working with property owners,” Wendy says. “We’ve had our differences, and they stick to their guns, but they know how to deal with property owners.”
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Old September 7th, 2005, 01:40 AM   #238
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what a pretty building, i love it :P
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Old September 7th, 2005, 03:51 AM   #239
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awsome ! whatever helps to keep Marshall Fields ....Marshall Fields!
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Old September 7th, 2005, 04:05 AM   #240
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That's what's so great about this city. They no a good piece of architecture when they see one.
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