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Another Big Condo Project Planned for Chicago

Rendering via Chicago Tribune

Rendering via Chicago Tribune

How hot is Chicago’s downtown condominium market becoming? Check out this story by the Chicago Tribune. Real estate reporter Mary Ellen Podmolik writes that another towering condominium development is planned for the area.

According to the Tribune story, Related Midwest is planning a 67-story, 500-unit condo/apartment tower for the southwest corner of Grand and Peshtigo in Chicago.

You might remember that a former condo project was once planned for this same site. Developer Dan McLean wanted to build a 232-unit condominium tower for the corner. But McLean lost the land in a foreclosure suit. Related Midwest purchased this land in August of last year, spending $24.6 million for the property, according to the Tribune story.

The fact that a new tower is now planned for the same site is yet another sign that Chicago’s downtown condo market is still on the rise.

The new tower still has a long way to go before becoming a reality. The city of Chicago still has to approve Related Midwest’s plans. But the project seems to make financial sense. Demand for luxury apartments is high in the area. At the same time, there is plenty of demand for luxury condo units here, too. The Tribune says that there is currently a lack of luxury condo units in the downtown Chicago market.

The new project would rise across the street from another Related Midwest project, 500 Lake Shore Drive. That is a luxury apartment high-rise that the Tribune reports is 99% leased.

The new building would boast 400 apartments and 100 condominium units. As part of the project, Related Midwest would also redevelop a 70,000-square-foot public park that it owns.

The project would join the only other large-scale apartment/condo project already existing in the downtown Chicago area. That project is the 82-story Aqua Tower, a project that includes apartments, a hotel and condo units. In 2015, Loews Hotels & Resorts is scheduled to open a 52-story hotel and high-end apartment tower in the city, too.

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Millennium Park Still Making an Impact on Chicago’s Condo Market

Millennium Park Still Making an Impact on Chicago’s Condo Market

Millennium Park Still Making an Impact on Chicago’s Condo Market

It’s hard to believe but Chicago’s Millennium Park turns 10 years old this July. And Crain’s Chicago Business paid tribute to the now iconic park with a look at how Millennium Park has given condo development in downtown Chicago a boost.

You probably remember that it cost a whopping $475 million to build Millennium Park. That was three times its original budget.

But the park has made a dramatic impact on downtown Chicago, becoming one of the most-visited spots in the city. It has also fueled a steady rise in condominium development in the area surrounding the park. Consider the example of the Heritage at Millennium Park. As Crain’s reports, by the time this condo development sold out in 2005, units with views of the park were fetching prices that were 25 to 30% higher than were condos that had a view looking west.

The message? People wanted that view of Millennium Park and they were willing to pay a premium to get it.

The park, of course, replaced what was once railroad tracks. Now, from a once rather ugly site, there are gardens, an outdoor concert stage, sculptures, and of course the famed Cloud Gate – better known as the Bean.

Crain’s reports that since 2005, 1,391 new condos have been created adjacent to the park on either Randolph Street or Michigan Avenue. Crain’s quotes Appraisal Research’s Gail Lissner as saying that buildings not immediately adjacent to Millennium Park have benefited from the site, too. She pointed specifically to the nearby Aqua development and other properties in the Lakeshore East development as examples.

So as Millennium Park ends its first decade, be sure to spare a moment to give thanks for this green spot in the center of the city. Its impact on the area’s housing market has been significant.

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International Investors Still Interested in U.S. Housing

International Investors Still Interested in U.S. Housing

International Investors Still Interested in U.S. Housing

How strong is the U.S. housing market today? Strong enough to continue to attract the dollars of buyers from across the globe.

The National Association of REALTORS® 2014 Profile of International Home Buying Activity shows that international buyers are spending more money on U.S. housing. And that’s good news for anyone considering selling a home; it shows that the U.S. housing market, while still recovering from its Great Recession-era slump, is viewed as an attractive investment by investors across the globe.

According to NAR’s numbers, from April 2013 through March 2014, total international home sales hit an estimated $92.2 billion. That’s a sizable increase from the $68.2 billion international buyers spent on U.S. housing from April 2012 through March 2013.

“We live in an international marketplace; so while all real estate is local, that does not mean that all property buyers are,” said Steve Brown, president of NAR, in a written statement.

Brown said that international buyers are interested in U.S. real estate because of the still-affordable prices of homes here, the economic stability of the United States and the high possibility that their investments will increase in value over the years.

NAR said that international buyers consider a host of factors when deciding where to invest their dollars. Some want U.S. homes that are relatively close to their home countries. Others want to purchase U.S. homes close to where relatives and family members are living in the United States.

Still others are interested in a temperate climate, while others prefer markets that are home to large IT companies.

The good news for Chicago homeowners? While our city doesn’t rank at the top of international investment, it is a world-class city that is home to several Fortune 500 companies. This means that it is also an attractive market for investors from across the globe.

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Chinese Investor’s Plans another Sign That Downtown Chicago Real Estate is Hot

Sign That Downtown Chicago Real Estate is Hot

I’ve long written that Chicago is a world-class city, one that attracts investors from around the globe. And recent reports — such as this one in Crain’s Chicago Business — that a Chinese real estate firm is planning to spend $900 million to build an 89-story tower on the Chicago River is just more evidence of our city’s pull around the world.

According to Crain’s, Wanda Group, based in Beijing, plans to build its new hotel-and-apartment tower on Wacker Drive in the Lakeshore East Development. The tower, if all goes according to plan, would be the third-tallest building in Chicago, hitting a height of about 1,150 feet. It would include a five-star hotel with 240 rooms.

The plans have created plenty of excitement, especially when Wanda Group released images that show a truly stunning building.

People, though, should not be surprised that the Wanda Group is interested in building in this slice of Chicago. The city’s downtown area is a hot one today, both for residential and commercial development. And why not? Downtown neighborhoods have become 24/7 communities, with restaurants, bars, green spaces, theaters and boutique shops dotting them.

If you own property in this part of Chicago, you should welcome the news that Wanda Group is interested in investing so heavily in the city. It’s just another sign that real estate here is valuable, and that the heart of the city remains attractive to big-money investors.

No one can argue that the city’s housing market didn’t suffer during the days of the Great Recession. And no one can argue that housing here has fully recovered from the housing crash that followed. But when you read about companies like the Wanda Group sinking big money into the city, you should feel hope: The city’s residential real estate rebound is continuing. And it looks like the rebound isn’t about to slow any time soon.

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Condo Construction is on the Rise Again in Chicago

Condo Construction on the Rise in Chicago

Condo Construction on the Rise in Chicago

Need more proof that Chicago’s housing market is firmly in recovery mode? Took a look in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood at 1345 S. Wabash Ave. That site will soon be the home to a new high-rise condominium project.

That’s right, as a recent story by Chicago Magazine says, developers are once again building new condominiums in downtown Chicago.

That’s significant. Following the real estate crash, condominium construction basically came to a halt in downtown Chicago and throughout much of the city. Several projects under construction fell through, and the half-completed projects in downtown Chicago stood as a reminder of just how bad the real estate market here had become.

That’s changed now, though. Chicago real estate analysts are predicting that developers will soon be building more condo buildings not only in the South Loop but throughout downtown Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Chicago Magazine’s story highlights the new condo project now under construction at 13th Street and Wabash Avenue in the city’s South Loop neighborhood. This project, the early stages of a 15-story 144-unit glass condominium tower by CMK Companies, will be the first new condominium high-rise building to be built in downtown Chicago since the nation’s recession began in 2007. This milestone building should be completed by next spring. If you’re eager to live here you can already buy a unit.

The Chicago Magazine story says that this project is just the first of what will hopefully be many new condominium buildings rising in downtown Chicago. The story quotes Gail Lissner, a vice president at Appraisal Research Counselors, saying that the downtown area today has fewer than 500 units of unsold high-rise condo properties available. That’s down from more than 3,600 in 2009, according to Lissner.

The message from that is clear: Demand is high for new condo units in downtown Chicago, and no one will be surprised once developers start rushing to fill that demand.


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