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Old September 17th, 2005, 12:16 AM   #261
spyguy
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Rentals look to rebound

September 16, 2005

BY LARRY FINLEY Real Estate Reporter


It only seems like everybody in the suburbs is buying a new home or has moved into one already. Some people do still rent.

Despite all of those new developments and neighborhoods popping up in cornfields and empty lots throughout the area, the suburban rental apartment market is hanging in there and even showing signs of making a comeback, according to Tony Rossi, president of RMK Management Corp., which has about 5,000 suburban apartments.

"Maybe everybody who has been buying a home has bought a home," Rossi said hopefully.

Apartment owners and managers have had tough going since early 2001 when the job market cooled off and interest rates slid to the point that monthly mortgage costs were on a par with rent payments, he said.

The apartment market had been fueled by people who could not afford to buy, or didn't want to buy, or by young people who were just entering the job market, he said.

"We always lost X percentage to home ownership, but you always had that kid graduating from school with a degree who got a job with Lucent Technologies or something," Rossi said. "But, now there's no more Lucent."

The "light at the end of the tunnel" is that "last year we finally stopped losing jobs," Rossi said. "You had a net job growth. It wasn't very much, but at least it was positive."

The renters include people who are moving into the area for a temporary assignment or "just don't want to be bothered with home ownership in a condo or don't want to be mowing grass at a house.

"A function of today is that there are a lot of split families'' he said. "That's a big market. Even though dad may work downtown and the kids are in the suburbs, he might want to get an apartment that's close to the family."

There are some empty-nesters who keep an apartment in the suburbs and either rent or own another place "in Florida or Arizona," Rossi said.

Higher interest rates would be good for the apartment market here, he said. As interest edges up, mortgage rates increase and the rent-vs.-own decision starts to change, he said.

Rents are averaging between the $700s and $1,400s a month for top apartments, he said. Concessions are available, although they have gone down from last year. Instead of 6 or 8 weeks "free," the incentive might be only 2 to 4 weeks, Rossi said.

In the highly competitive suburban market, clubhouses, swimming pools and other amenities are expected for larger rental complexes, just as they might be at a condominium development, Rossi said.

"We have three properties where we actually tore down the clubhouses and built new ones," Rossi said. "At the one at [Versailles on the Lakes in] Oakbrook Terrace we even have a home theater room. We put in the latest exercise equipment and a demonstration kitchen, where we have classes."

The two-story clubhouse also includes a great room, business center, conference room and cyber cafe. There are two swimming pools, a bath house and two tennis courts.

The Versailles has 688 apartments ranging from studios, at $785 a month, to 1,241-square-foot, 3-bedroom plans for $1,630. A 1-bedroom with 1 bath and 692 square feet is about $995. There aren't a lot of 3-bedroom apartments because they would be competing with single-family homes in terms of size, he said.

Versailles on the Lakes is at 17 W. 720 Butterfield Rd., in Oakbrook Terrace. Call (630) 627-8890. All of RMK's properties are listed on their Web site www.rmk.com.

Occupancy rates in the 11 Village Green apartment complexes in the suburbs have increased from about 90 percent a year ago to the mid to high 90 percent levels today, according to Jack Dent, company president.

Village Green has about 2,700 apartments in suburban locations such as the Village Green at Cantera in Warrenville, Village Green at Seven Bridges in Woodridge and Central Park East in Arlington Heights. Other locations include Palatine, Wheeling, Hinsdale and Glen Ellyn. They operate more than 30,000 units throughout the Midwest.

Suburban rents should remain relatively stable this year, with continued improvement in occupancies next year, Dent said. A little inflation would help matters also, he said.

"You get spoiled," he said. "You had an interest rate of 5 percent. Now you are in the high 5s. It would probably have to get close to 7 percent to really help us."

The market for apartments peaked in 2000, and began to slide in 2001, he said. It continued sliding in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

"Now in 2005 we feel we are back close to 2001 levels," Dent said.

"We have 40 to 50 percent turnover a year," Dent said. "Half of them are purchasing homes, and the next big bulk of them are relocating out of the area."

Many of their "confirmed renters" used to be gray-collar workers before mortgage interest rates began to fall, he said.

"The rates dropped, the condos got converted or they got built," he said. "You could get into a condo for similar to a rental amount. There were low-down payment or no-down payment programs. So why not?"

Their typical renters is now part of a "younger crowd," Dent said. "People just out of college want to get their feet wet for a while before they buy and settle down. You might also have some empty-nesters."

Dent said they use concessions selectively to help rent units that "have been sitting for a while."

"We price our units competitively and try to beat the competition with our market price," he said.

Amenities such as clubhouses help attract people and are part of the package, Dent said.

"Our typical property has almost a $1 million clubhouse," he said. "We put in a nice new clubhouse there, which includes an exercise facility, racketball court, business center, swimming pool, club room, pool table and a place to watch TV."

Chicago's downtown rental market has been hard hit by the boom in small condominium sales. Many rental buildings have been converted to ownership, and those that remain are charging premium rents.

This is all an opportunity for Village Green, according to Dent.

"We would like to take over that market down there," Dent said. "We have four downtown buildings that we manage or own and they are all in the mid to high 90 [percentile of occupancy], again without concessions."

Village Green announced in July that it, and a partner, purchased the Randolph Tower office building, at 188 W. Randolph, and plan to convert it to 300 luxury apartments. Their other buildings include Fisher Building City Apartments, 343 S. Dearborn; Medical District City Apartments, 901 S. Ashland; MDA City Apartments (first occupancies very soon), 63 E. Lake St., and Twelve Twelve on South Michigan, 1212 S. Michigan Ave.

"We are the only apartment developer who is doing anything in downtown Chicago," Dent said. "We are taking office buildings and converting to apartments, when everybody else is converting them to condos. We plan to be more and more and more downtown. Let everybody else sell their buildings for condos and we will be very happy."

Village Green's properties are listed on its Web site www.villagegreen.com.

Apartment developments in good job markets can establish a solid base of residents, according to Brian Hoffman, vice president and chief financial officer of Red Seal Development Corp.

Red Seal operates two luxury rental developments in Lake County, Northgate Apartments, in Waukegan, and Mallard Ridge Apartments in Lindenhurst. Northgate has 363 apartments with 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms in three-story buildings. Mallard Ridge has 204 apartments with 1 and 2 bedrooms in 17 buildings on 17 acres. Rents range from the low $700s to $1,575.

There are only 15 three-bedroom apartments at Northgate, he said, but they are always rented, probably because "there aren't many around. They live like a ranch house. They are beautifully appointed and nearly 1,500 square feet."

"We are served by everything from corporate types from Abbott Labs through members of the military service from Great Lakes to school teachers, firemen and police from various municipalities," Hoffman said.

"As a pair of luxury communities, we have been attractive to people who have been more stable in their employment,'' Hoffman said. "Other than job transfers, most of our tenants have no real reason to move."

Some of the residents at Mallard Ridge are seniors who have lived there for 12 years, he said.

Northgate has a newly modeled clubhouse with a fitness center and party rooms. There is also a heated outdoor pool and tennis courts.

"I think the pool and clubhouse at Northgate are important," Hoffman said. "But the units with big bedrooms, a nice kitchen and nice finishes, are far more important. Being in a nice, quiet, safe neighborhood is also important.But certainly it's nice to have a pool in the summer.''

The occupancy rate at Mallard Ridge is about 96 percent filled and it is about 90 percent at Northgate, which is up from this spring and should improve further this fall, Hoffman said.

Mallard Ridge is on Grand Avenue, just east of Munn Road, in Lindenhurst. Call (708) 356-5010. Northgate is at Sunset Avenue and New York Road, west of Lewis Avenue, Waukegan. Call (847) 623-0800.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/busine...i-business-hed
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Old September 17th, 2005, 06:17 AM   #262
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Metra hears plan for upscale station

By Virginia Groark
Tribune staff reporter
Published September 16, 2005, 4:34 PM CDT


Randolph Street Station, long one of the most dismal depots on Metra's system, not only has a new look but could become the commuter rail agency's finest stop, with white-coat clad bathroom attendants, fresh flowers and a new name: Millennium Park Station.

That's the vision of J. Paul Beitler, who heads the Beitler Co.

The Metra board today awarded a 20-year contract to Beitler's firm to manage the station – the downtown terminal of the Metra Electric Line to University Park and South Shore Line to South Bend, Ind. -- and to lease its 16,000 square feet of retail space.

Metra expects to receive $6.9 million over the term of the lease in addition to as much as $1 million from billboard advertising it intends to put in the underground station.

At the rail agency's board meeting, Beitler unveiled grand plans to overhaul the image of the station, which recently underwent a $22 million rehabilitation.

First, shed the Randolph Street moniker, he said. Name it after Chicago's newest tourist draw: Millennium Park, which sits above the station.

Board members praised the idea and will vote on the suggestion next month.

Next, forget about leasing retail space to an odorous chicken shack, Beitler advised. He intends to pursue vendors like a bank, bookstore and coffee shop, and fill at least half the storefronts by December 2006.

Increase awareness about the station's merchants, Beitler said. He envisioned ice cream socials during off-peak hours, and handing out umbrellas advertising the station to commuters during an April shower next spring.

Most important, dress up the bathrooms, he said. Adorn them with fresh flowers, offer mouthwash and staff them with attendants. Create a buzz that would lure people to the station.

"That, they'll talk about," Beitler said.
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Old September 18th, 2005, 02:35 PM   #263
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CITY REPORT
32-story addition to South Loop

By Jeanette Almada

Special to the Tribune
Published September 18, 2005

A 32-story building with 260 condominiums will be added to the Central Station neighborhood, which has been under construction on 80 acres south of Grant Park since the mid-1990s.

The Enterprise Group, a Chicago developer, is partnering with Central Station LLC to build the tower, according to Gerald Fogelson, CEO of Fogelson Properties.

Chicago developer Fogelson and partner Forest City Enterprises, based in Cleveland, formed Central Station LLC as master developer of Central Station, comprising townhouses, apartments and condos between Roosevelt Road and Cullerton Avenue and South Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue.

That company has partnered with several developers in the Central Station project, and Enterprise Group is partnering with the developer to build the portion of Central Station called Museum Park.

To be called 1400 Museum Park, the building will go up on the northeast corner of the 14th Street and South Michigan Avenue and will bear the address 100 E. 14th St., according to David Earnhart, an architect at Chicago-based Pappageorge Haymes, the firm that is designing the tower.

Central Station LLC closed on its purchase of the site from a private developer earlier this month, Fogelson said.

The Chicago Plan Commission last month approved plans for the tower as a planned development.

The building will have 9,600 square feet of ground-floor retail space, parking for 301 cars on the first six levels, an outdoor dog run on the sixth level, and an exercise room and a community room on the 32nd floor, according to Earnhart.

Each residential floor will have two 3-bedroom, 2-bath units; two 1-bedroom, 1-bath units; and six 2-bedroom, 2-bath units, Earnhart said,

Sizes range from 800 to 1,600 square feet and prices, from $300,000 to $600,000, Fogelson said.

Sales are under way. Demolition of four buildings on the site will begin this week, Fogelson said.
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Old September 18th, 2005, 05:29 PM   #264
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Thanks for a great morning read BVictor. BTW in following up the 1400 Museum Park lead, I came across a site that lists nearly every existing and new building on the south side of any interest, including a small map. http://www.thorntonproperties.net/south_loop.php
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Old September 20th, 2005, 05:13 AM   #265
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As the east South Loop comes together, I think we have the potential for a "Manhattan-esque" environment there. The area encompassing the five avenues -- Prairie, Indiana, Michigan, Wabash and State, from around Congress to around McCormick Place is bounded like an island on the east and west. East of course is LSD and the Lake, and on the west, the walled off Dearborn Park. I see this 'island effect' as one potential benefit of the otherwise abysmal Dearborn Park. As development moves south, the beginning of the Stevenson expressway at 22nd street will serve as a boundary on the south. This neighborhood will be visually disconnected from everything but downtown. This bodes well for creating a real neighborhood feel.
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Old September 24th, 2005, 04:36 AM   #266
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Steel - September 2005

550 W. Adams St.


Sleek New Office for USG
(09/01/2005)

By Pamela Dittmer McKuen


Efficiency is the driving force behind the 18-story 550 W. Adams St. office in Chicago's West Loop. The diagonally braced steel core maximizes the amount of rentable space. The price of structural steel, which had been rising when the project started, was locked up early on. The glass and steel provide a sleek look. Building products maker USG Corp. will be the main tenant.

In many respects, the steel and glass structure going up at 550 W. Adams St. in Chicago's West Loop typifies the rectangular office buildings throughout the city.

But there's much more to it. The mid-rise building is a model of energy and space efficiency and the facade is an aesthetic metaphor for its anchor tenant, USG Corp.

The 18-story, $112 million building is being developed by the Fifield Cos. of Chicago and was designed by De Stefano + Partners, another Windy City firm. Serving as general contractor is Schaumburg-based Power Construction Co.

The building boasts about 479,000 rentable sq. ft. of space. It sits on the same block as 555 W. Monroe St., another Fifield project and home to The Quaker Oats Co.

USG, of which U.S. Gypsum Co. is a subsidiary, will occupy floors 8-18. Completion is expected in the spring.

Construction on the building, which is steel-supported with lightweight concrete fill over metal decks on the floors, began in November 2004.

"We excavated only about 12 ft. and that was for the elevator pits and foundation," said Doug Grover, Fifield's vice president of construction and design. "There's no basement. The building sits on caissons that go down about 95 ft., and the drilling for that was done with a gas-powered mobile crane."

An electric-powered tower crane is being used on the rest of the project.

Fortunately, the crews ran into no surprises as they were digging, which could have stalled or stopped their work. But the tight quarters present other challenges. Partial street closures, although costly, have helped, Grover explained.

"The building is at the northwest corner of Adams and Clinton streets, and that's where the staging is being done," he said. "Power took out one lane of traffic from both streets. They're taking most of the steel deliveries off Adams, and the man and material hoist is off Clinton."

"It's always a challenge building in the city, especially in a higher traffic corridor," said Chris Goray, senior project manager for Power.

The Building's Efficiencies

The building is designed with numerous efficiencies. First is the diagonally braced steel core, which is dead center. This positioning maximizes the amount of rentable space, about 27,700 sq. ft. per floor.

"This floor plate is extremely efficient from the standpoint of having a low loss factor," said Tom Saletta, Fifield's senior vice president. "That's a measure of how much common area is spread throughout the building, which is rented by everyone. Our single-tenant loss factor is 7.49 percent."

Loss factors in similar city buildings range between 8 percent and 12 percent, he added.

The design helps Fifield, as an owner, better compete for tenants. USG, for example, is able to take less space, 248,000 sq. ft., than at its current location, 125 S. Franklin St.

"And that includes growth area," Saletta said. "That affects their bottom line. They are able to save millions of dollars on their lease in terms of efficiency."

Scott Sarver, De Stefano architect and president, said the building is a clean, simple box with a core in the middle and the right dimensions from core to glass all the way around the building.

"When you have an atrium on one side and a core on the other side, when you're laying out the spaces, you have to work around these obstacles," he added.

Power was able to lock the price of steel, and the material is used judiciously. The column-to-column span is 20 ft., rather than the more typical 30 ft.

"The steel market was fluctuating greatly at the time, so we knew it had to be a focus," Goray added. "We planned on a requirement of having the steel package expedited so we could purchase it. We had our steel contractor under subcontract in July (2004)."

Sleek and Airy

After steel, the second major component is glass. The building was designed with great input from USG, and is reminiscent of gypsum, the company's legacy to the building-products industry.

USG wanted a headquarters that was sleek, airy and open yet hyper-efficient, Sarver said.

"It's a very Chicago building with a contemporary interpretation," he added. "It's rather Mies-ian in its straight-forwardness but with a twist of lightness. We started with the concept of gypsum crystal, which is a natural material, and the way light bends and moves and reflects through the crystal."

To that end, the exterior walls are clad in a clear, high energy-performing glass. Vertically striping the building at 5-ft. intervals, from the second to 18th floors, are 1-ft. deep glass fins jutting out from the mullions.

"Most of the time the fins are viewed on the oblique up and down Adams," Sarver said. "They bend and reflect light and the crystalline image of gypsum. And with Union Station to the southeast of the site, the building will be relatively preserved with sunlight until someone develops on top of Union Station."

Goray called the glazing system "highly detailed" and added, "We're installing a curtain wall with external aluminum mullions and following that up with the architectural fins. It's an added step."

The fins also serve an energy-efficiency purpose by reflecting a percentage of light and heat gain before it hits the façade, Sarver said.

"When you increase the sense of light in a space, you are sometimes able to decrease the office standards," he said. "It improves the environment for the employees by being brighter, more sunlight and increased energy performance."

The final architectural detail is the crown, which is set back 5 ft. from the main building. It is wrapped with a 20-ft.-tall band of backlighting, which produces a sort of halo or marker amid the city skyline.

Thus far, construction is speeding along. The building was topped out with structural steel at the end of May, and most of the glazing will be in place by the end of summer. The tower crane will probably be gone by early fall. That's a little later than usual for a project of this type and size because a green roof system, yet another efficiency, is being installed there, said Goray.

"It's a real signature building in Chicago," Saletta said.
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Old September 24th, 2005, 11:03 PM   #267
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In Sunday's Tribune they mention that floors 21-28 of 900 N. Michigan will be converted into condos. Too lazy to scan it so you can check it out tomorrow I guess.

Stop this conversion madness!
Convert old warehouses into affordable housing to encourage larger families to move back, but leave the luxury condo market for the big boys
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Old September 25th, 2005, 03:17 AM   #268
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^ I"m not surprised. They have started marketing 900 North Michigan condos online.
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Old September 25th, 2005, 11:33 AM   #269
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What's in there now? I guess I always just assumed that it already was condos?
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Old September 25th, 2005, 02:28 PM   #270
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THE MARKET
900 N. Mich. turning 8 office floors into homes

Wayne Faulkner, Real Estate editor

Published September 25, 2005

The condo boom has made Chicago's obsolete office buildings prime candidates for conversion to residential, especially near the wildly successful Millennium Park.

But what does a 1980s office facility do when a major tenant decides to move? JMB Realty Corp. has decided to turn a 200,000-square-foot vacancy at its 900 N. Michigan Ave. mixed-use building -- "the Bloomingdale's Building" -- into condos, making it the first conversion of modern office space to residential on North Michigan Avenue. (The 1920s Palmolive Building, at 919 N. Michigan, is being converted to condos.)

Floors 21 through 28 of the tower are being vacated by J. Walter Thompson, an original tenant of the 66-story building, which consists of a vertical shopping mall anchored by Bloomingdales, offices, the Four Seasons Hotel and condominiums at the top, according to Pat Meara, senior vice president of JMB, which owns the structure.

Thompson moved to the Merchandise Mart and left eight floors that are a virtual clean slate on which to design condos --no load-bearing walls, no columns in the living space -- Meara said in an interview last week.

And, if someone wants a full floor -- 25,000 square feet -- they can have it, he added.

But the space as planned will be 48 fully built-out condos with 1,678 to 4,790 square feet. Each floor will have six units -- one single-bedroom unit, one two-bedroom and four units with either three bedrooms or two bedrooms and a den. Prices range from $1.2 million to $4.6 million. Delivery is expected in 2007. A marketing center will open next month, and a reservation list will be opened this week, Meara said.

"As we looked at the market, North Michigan Avenue has become more of a small- to medium-sized boutique market," Meara said in explaining the switch to residential condos. "The prospects of filling up that space with small- to medium-size tenants weren't good."

About 300,000 square feet of offices remain on floors 9 through 20.

It's obvious that prospective owners will be affluent, but the condos are aimed at two markets, Meara said -- people already living downtown, perhaps in older buildings, who are seeking larger units (they're an average of 3,200 to 3,300 square feet at 900 Michigan); and empty-nesters moving downtown. He sees the buyers being split evenly between the two segments.

The condos will join existing ones that are on the tower's upper floors and whose lobby entrance is on Delaware Place. But the new ones will be in a separate condo association with a lobby entrance formed from the redesign of the office lobby on Walton Street.

Parking will be rental and plentiful, Meara said, because the occupants of the 48 units will replace hundreds of office workers.

Booth Hansen is the architect for the condo redesign. The building was designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates.
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Old September 26th, 2005, 05:12 PM   #271
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Sigh....

Theater District Getting More Parking
By Mark Ruda
Last updated: September 26, 2005 08:50am

CHICAGO-The city is selling a five-story building at 174 W. Randolph St. to Clovis Investments, LLC, which will demolish the building and use the 14,578 sf as a parking lot for up to five years. However, the developer is expected to begin work before then on a mixed-use project involving that property as well as two neighboring sites it already owns.


The community development commission recently endorsed the $1.2-million land sale, $290,000 more than the city’s cost to acquire the property, but the most recent appraised value. While Clovis Investments plans to build the first Downtown parking lot with permeable asphalt and shield it with theater-themed panels, a restaurant is likely to be among the retail tenants.


“I’ve been keeping my eye on this area for a long time,” says Joseph F. Zosky, managing member of Romeoville-based Clovis Investments. His group will spend nearly $6 million to create a 61-space parking lot--nearly $100,000 per space.


If Clovis Investments is unable to launch its mixed-use project, the city has the right to reacquire the site. However, department of planning and development officials will work out an arrangement with the developer protecting the city from a run-up in land prices.


The city council will require that, says 50th Ward Alderman Bernard Stone. “They’ll have to sell it back at the same price they’re buying it at.”


Clovis Investments’ development site will be east of 188 W. Randolph St., an office building that will be redeveloped as a multifamily rental property. Farmington Hills, MI-based Village Green Cos. and Everhardt & Nesis Co. bought the 76-year-old building, which has undergone repairs to its exterior since 2001, when terra cotta from the 43-story building fell along Randolph and Wells streets, as well as the Chicago Transit Authority’s elevated line.
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Old September 26th, 2005, 07:05 PM   #272
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uhh..... Is it even worth it to spend $100,000 dollars per spot?? It seems there are more profitable ways of doing something like this.
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Old September 27th, 2005, 12:02 AM   #273
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Illinois Aug. home sales rise 8.6%; prices up 11%

By Julie Jargon

Sales of new and existing homes in Illinois rose 8.6% last month while the median home price jumped 11% to $215,000.

Almost 20,000 single-family homes and condos were sold in the state last month, compared to 18,384 in August 2004, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors.

“Demand for housing is as strong as ever largely due to continued attractive interest rates, strong demand for second homes and investment homes from the baby boomers, plus an improving jobs picture in Illinois,” Illinois Association of Realtors president Stan Sieron said in a statement. “Prices are rising at a healthy rate because demand is still stronger than supply at this point. As the supply of homes rises, it should take some of the pressure off prices. Even so, we expect home price appreciation to remain historically strong through the end of the year.”

The average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage in Illinois last month was 5.92%, compared to 5.97% in August 2004.

In the Chicago metropolitan area, single-family home sales were up 5.6% to 8,811 last month and condo sales were up 13.3% to 5,870.

The median sale price of a single-family home in the Chicago area rose 10.4% to $279,900 compared to August 2004 while the median sale price of a condo jumped 10.3% to $215,000.

“Statewide, August was the strongest month so far in 2005 for condo sales and in the Chicago area we’re about even with June’s record number of condo sales,” Mr. Sieron stated. “Chicago remains one of the lower priced big U.S. cities and is one of the most affordably priced metro areas of the country.”

The median price of existing homes nationwide rose 15.8% to $220,000, according to the National Association of Realtors, which today released sales figures just for existing homes. The Illinois Association of Realtors did not break out the number of existing- versus new-home sales in today’s report.

Nationally, the sale of existing homes rose 2% in August to 7.29 million units, marking the second-highest level on record, after a high of 7.35 million homes sold in June.
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Old September 27th, 2005, 12:19 AM   #274
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New Construction

Chicago--Block 37 mixed-use, State and Randolph Streets, 300-unit mixed-use development, November, $100 million.

Chicago--Prairie Station mixed-use, Calumet Avenue and 21st Street, 265-unit mixed-use development, May, $21 million.
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Old September 27th, 2005, 12:21 AM   #275
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spyguy999
New Construction

Chicago--Block 37 mixed-use, State and Randolph Streets, 300-unit mixed-use development, November, $100 million.

Chicago--Prairie Station mixed-use, Calumet Avenue and 21st Street, 265-unit mixed-use development, May, $21 million.
Wait. Is that for hotel or condo? It can't be a new HQ bldg for Morningstar.
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Old September 27th, 2005, 08:26 AM   #276
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About time!

$15 Million Rehab Spruces Up Downtown Subway Stop
CTA Opens New Red Line Station

POSTED: 3:45 pm CDT September 26, 2005
UPDATED: 4:31 pm CDT September 26, 2005

CHICAGO -- City and CTA officials on Monday cut the ribbon on a new Red Line subway station at Lake Street, presenting riders with granite floors, glazed ceramic wall tiles and improved lighting.

The station, located under State Street between Lake and Randolph Streets, had previously been unchanged since it was built in the 1940s, except for tactile edging along the platform and new turnstiles, according to Chicago Transit Authority President Frank Kruesi.

The $15 million renovation also expanded the station's mezzanine level by 1,500 feet and replaced three escalators with new ones that operate 25 percent faster, Kruesi said at a news conference at the station. Two escalators between street and mezzanine level and one between mezzanine and platform level were replaced.

Kruesi said part of the goal of renovating the station, which matches renovations already made at the Red Line's Roosevelt, Jackson, Washington and Chicago stations, was to increase the sense of security for CTA customers.

"These stations 10 years ago were dark, were scary places to go to. Now they are wide open, they are bright, they are well-lit and customers are using them and we're seeing more ridership because people feel safer on the system," Kruesi said. "They are welcoming instead of dismal."

The new tiles include improved signs directing riders to exits, including which direction each exit is facing.

The mezzanine and platforms at Lake Street stayed open during the renovations, but only for customers exiting the station, according to Kruesi.

The Lake Street station also features 20 new security cameras along the platform and nine new cameras on the mezzanine level, Kruesi said. Fiber optic cables link the cameras to the CTA's control center at 120 N. Racine Ave., and will eventually also link the cameras to the city's 911 Center at 1411 W. Madison St., Kruesi added.

Next month, the CTA will begin installing electronic kiosks to display information on CTA operations and local news, according to Cheri Heramb, Acting Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Kruesi said the CTA is also working on installing signs at all CTA train stations to provide riders with the estimated time until the next train arrives at that station.


Alderman Burton Natarus (42nd Ward) praised the new station, calling it a vital part of getting people to and from downtown. Natarus said more and more people are visiting downtown every year to visit the Theater District, Millennium Park, Grant Park and other attractions.

"For this city to survive, in light of the fact that everybody wants to move near it or into it because of its beauty and its facilities and its ability to run service, we're going to really have to do everything we can to enhance rapid transit in this city. And the rehabilitation of this station is one of the steps toward that," Natarus said.
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Old September 28th, 2005, 02:15 PM   #277
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The Rookery lands on the market
12-story landmark is 3rd Chicago icon up for sale this year

By Thomas A. Corfman
Tribune staff reporter
Published September 28, 2005

The Rookery is up for sale, the third icon of Chicago skyscraper history to go on the market this year.

The landmark, 12-story structure at 209 S. LaSalle St., designed by Daniel Burnham and John W. Root and built in 1888, is regarded as a key example of early "tall" building design.

Reinforcing the building's place in history, Frank Lloyd Wright in 1905 supervised an interior renovation, redesigning the lobby and light court.

"When you walk in, you have a whole sense of brightness and openness," said Joseph Caprile, a principal with Chicago-based Lohan Caprile Goettsch Architects.

The Rookery is owned by a venture that includes Netherlands-based ING Bank, which gained control after a 1998 bankruptcy.

New York-based ING Clarion Partners, which manages the asset for the bank, has hired CB Richard Ellis Inc. to market the property, confirmed Michael Vesper, a senior vice president in the real estate firm's Chicago office.

"The Rookery combines classic architecture with a strong, secure investment," he said

The 285,000-square-foot building is said to be a solid financial performer that is 88 percent leased.

The largest tenants are U.S. Bank, with about 48,000 square feet, and the U.S. Justice Department and National Labor Relations Board, which combined have about 43,000 square feet.

The sale price could reach $70 million, or about $245 a square foot, some sources said.

Other historic Chicago skyscrapers that have changed hands or are expected to change hands this year include:

- The Railway Exchange Building, 224 S. Michigan Ave., designed by Burnham and built in 1904.

- The former Inland Steel Building, 30 W. Monroe St., designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and completed in 1958.

The small trend has more to do with the hot market for commercial real estate investments and less to do with any fad favoring the landmark structures, said Harvey Camins, who is part of the venture that in August bought the former Inland Steel building, along with celebrity architect Frank Gehry.

But in the current slow leasing market, architectural landmarks can gain an economic edge, said Camins, chief executive of Chicago real estate brokerage Camins Tomasz Kritt LLC.

"It's about the only kind of building where you can differentiate yourself, other than a brand-new, state-of-the-art high-rise," he said.

In 1992, the Rookery received a painstaking renovation by a partnership led by well-known bond trader Thomas Baldwin.

But six years later, the partnership filed for bankruptcy, a delayed result of the slump of the downtown office market in the early 1990s. ING Bank and another lender held unpaid mortgages of about $130 million, bankruptcy records show.

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Old September 28th, 2005, 05:25 PM   #278
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U.S. sues to acquire buildings on State Street for buffer zone

September 28, 2005

BY DAVID ROEDER AND ABDON M. PALLASCH Staff Reporters


The federal government filed suit Tuesday to forcibly acquire buildings on a decayed stretch of State Street between Adams and Jackson.

The parcels are immediately east of the Dirksen Federal Building, 219 S. Dearborn. Federal officials have been worried about creating a security "buffer zone'' around their Loop offices and courthouses.

A plan that could take years to be realized calls for the buildings to be replaced with new federal offices, said David Wilkinson, a spokesman for the General Services Administration. The GSA is the federal government's property manager.

In the meantime, the government hopes to spruce up the buildings to improve that section of State, he said.

"The idea is to provide basically a buffer to improve security and to control future development along the west side of State between Adams and Jackson,'' Wilkinson said. He said money has been appropriated to buy the buildings but not to demolish them.

The buildings include 10 W. Jackson, currently home to the government's Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau. Wilkinson said the agency will move to another federal property at 536 S. Clark.

Another site is 216 S. State, whose ownership Wilkinson said is unclear.

$30 million?

Not included in the condemnation suits are the Berghoff Restaurant at 17 W. Adams and a building at the southwest corner of State and Adams being converted to a hotel.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald filed the suits, citing federal law that empowers government to buy property by eminent domain for public use. The law requires that the property owners get a fair market value.

Real estate brokers have estimated the properties' value could exceed $30 million.
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Old September 30th, 2005, 06:21 AM   #279
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I went to the sales center opening of Vetro tonight(www.vetrochicago.com). There were quite a few people there, between 75-100. I was able to talk with the architect for a couple of minutes and I got his card, so I will try to get some better renderings and height information on tis one. I was able to take a few pics of the building model though. The building will have those interesting blue bands of glass and the base and top will be illuminated at night. I'll be going to the sales center for 600 North Fairbanks tomorrow, and whatever I find, I will report back here.

The West Face


The North Face


The East Face


The base along Wells


The Outdoor Terrace on the 7th Level
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Old September 30th, 2005, 06:24 AM   #280
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Not that bad. Good work. I'm surprised so many people showed up for this project.
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