Archive for December, 2009

Happy New Year from ChicagoismynewBlog!

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on December 31, 2009

Hey everyone!  I hope you all have a very happy, healthy, successful, and safe 2010!  Have fun tonight and stay safe.  I’m for sure going to one of my favorite Thai restaurants, the Silver Spoon, and of course a bit of champagne…all night!

Also, the real estate market always starts to pick up after the new year because the holidays are winding down and everyone’s always more optimistic and ready to get out there.  So when you’re ready to buy, sell, or even find an apartment in Chicago, don’t hesitate to contact me or your favorite @properties agent.  I would love to help out!

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Big court victory for Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport expansion.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on December 30, 2009

Big court victory for O’Hare expansion

DuPage County judge says Chicago can go ahead with cemetery condemnation.

December 19, 2009

By MARY WISNIEWSKI Transportation Reporter /

In a major victory for the city of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport expansion plans, a DuPage County judge ruled Friday that the city can proceed with condemnation proceedings to acquire St. Johannes Cemetery, which stands in the way of the completion of a new runway.

St. John’s United Church of Christ in Bensenville — which owns the 1,100-grave burial ground — had fought the acquisition, arguing it would cause great grief for families of those buried there. Joseph Karaganis, an attorney for the church, said he plans to challenge the court ruling.

The cemetery issue is the last major obstacle to the city’s expansion of O’Hare.

Last month, the village of Bensenville settled with the city, getting $16 million and agreeing to allow the demolition of over 500 abandoned homes and businesses….

Check out the full Chicago Sun Times article by clicking HERE!

 A DuPage County judge ruled today that the city of Chicago can proceed with condemnation proceedings to acquire St. Johannes Cemetery in order to expand O’Hare airport.
 (Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times)

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Union funds meant to finance The Chicago Spire construction now kaput.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on December 29, 2009

From this week’s In Other News

Chicago Spire twists in wind as union funds pass on bailout loan

By: Eddie Baeb December 21, 2009

Officials at four big investment funds affiliated with labor unions say they’re not interested in rescuing the stalled Chicago Spire project.

Recent reports that Spire developer Garrett Kelleher and union officials are discussing a possible loan rekindled hope that work would resume on the twisting tower, which at 150 stories would be North America’s tallest building.

But two union funds identified by a local labor leader and a Spire spokeswoman as having expressed interest, the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust and the union-backed life insurer ULLICO Inc., are taking a pass, according to top executives there. Representatives of two others, the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust and the Multi-Employer Property Trust, say the Spire isn’t a suitable investment for them.

“It’s not something we’re able to do,” says Edward Smith, president of ULLICO. “Unfortunately, these are just very difficult markets.”

Another union fund or group of funds still could step forward with a loan for the project. Mr. Kelleher also could secure funding from other sources. But the lack of interest from the four big funds narrows the Irish developer’s options as he seeks a financial lifeline for the Spire.

They’re among the largest funds of their kind, controlling about $13 billion in union pension funds and other assets. They also have a history of commercial real estate investing here and around the country, and an interest in backing projects that create jobs for union workers.

Worries about the prospects of the Spire in a moribund real estate market appear to have trumped their desire to help put union members back to work. The funds are no more eager than other real estate investors to risk money on a highly speculative project in the worst downturn in recent memory.

Mr. Kelleher seeks about $170 million in short-term financing to pay off existing debt and move the project forward. It would be a particularly risky loan because the most likely source of funds for repayment would be a construction loan for the $1-billion-plus project. Construction lenders typically advance funds only after a developer sells 50% of the units in a condominium project. After two years of worldwide marketing efforts, Mr. Kelleher has sold about 30% of the Spire’s 1,194 units.

In essence, Mr. Kelleher is asking the union funds to bet on his ability to sell condos in a stagnant downtown housing market, where mortgage and construction financing is hard to come by.

Michael Arnold, head of investor relations for the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust, says his fund can’t take that risk. “We would obviously like to be helpful,” he says. “We understand the interest, but we’re not any different than other real estate lenders today.”

Thomas Villanova, president of the Chicago & Cook County Building & Construction Trades Council, hopes union fund managers will consider not only financial risk but also the job-creating benefits of the project.

“This just can’t be looked at in a straight investment-type view. You’ve got to add into the equation this would be 7.5 million man-hours for my members,” Mr. Villanova says. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen times as bad as they are now.”

Mr. Villanova organized a meeting in the spring between Mr. Kelleher’s company, Shelbourne Development Group Inc., and representatives of the 24 local unions that comprise his group. He says some local union officials met with Shelbourne again, but he can’t recall which ones.

More recently, Mr. Villanova arranged a meeting on Nov. 30 between Shelbourne and Mark Ayers, a Washington, D.C.-based union leader who’s a board member with ULLICO and the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust. Mr. Ayers didn’t return calls….

Check out the full Crain’s Chicago Business article by clicking HERE!

Photo courtesy of Crain’s Chicago Business

Posted in Buildings, Chicago Spire, Construction, News Articles, Streeterville | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

MERRY CHRISTMAS from ChicagoismynewBlog!

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on December 25, 2009

Hi there everyone!  For all of you celebrating Christmas, I wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!  Have a great time and hopefully you can take this time to relax a bit.  That’s all you’re getting from me today!

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Story of the 2009 Market. Lincoln Park 2520 Scaled Down by a Third.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on December 24, 2009

Proposed Lincoln Park condo project scaled down

By Thomas A. Corfman, July 22, 2009

(Crain’s) — Developers of a proposed luxury condominium complex overlooking Lincoln Park are slashing the number of units by nearly a third in a bid to break through the locked-up market for large construction loans.

Ricker-Murphy Development LLC told buyers last week that the number of units would be cut by a nearly a third, to 198 from the 292 previously proposed, in Lincoln Park 2520, a three-building complex proposed for the site of the demolished Columbus Hospital, 2520 N. Lakeview Ave.

As a result, developers plan to lop off eight stories from the tallest building, reducing the height to 33 stories from the 41 stories previously proposed.

“Our opportunity to reduce the scale we believe will actually make us more attractive for not only construction financing, but also more attractive for the buyers” who want a smaller project, says John Murphy, a co-principal in Ricker-Murphy, whose joint-venture partner is the General Electric Co. pension fund.

Although the building will be shorter, the changes would not affect the design by Chicago architect Lucien Lagrange.

But even at a reduced size, the project would likely require a construction loan of more than $200 million to complete. As a result, the venture plans to start work without a loan on the foundation, which alone could take 12 months to finish. A smaller building still could be completed by late 2011, as required by the current contracts with homebuyers.

The shift in strategy comes as Ricker-Murphy faces an Aug. 15 maturity date on a $28.75-million loan on the site held by Bank of America, property records show. Mr. Murphy says talks are already under way for an extension of the loan.

B of A executives could not immediately be reached for comment, a spokeswoman says.

Ricker-Murphy and the GE pension fund are taking an aggressive approach to challenges facing many residential developers, who have instead opted to put their projects on hold.

“The cheapest thing to do is to sit and wait it out,” says developer Harry Huzenis, a principal in Chicago-based Jameson Development LLC. “The type of buyer they have will be there when the market is better.”

With asking prices of $885 a square foot, the project has not been immune from the broad downturn in the condo market, despite its premium location. Sales have stalled at about 50% of the units, a level that was once more than enough to obtain a construction loan. But lenders have become fearful of new condo projects because of deep concerns about weak demand and the glut of units already being built.

By reducing the number of units, the percentage of condos under contract would increase to 74%, from about 50%, assuming the number of buyers does not change, Mr. Murphy says. Reducing the number of units eliminates 29 condos that are already under contract, giving those buyers the chance to walk away and possibly washing out any advantage to the developers….

Check out the full article by clicking HERE!

Old Lincoln Park 2520 Rendering.

Posted in Construction, Lincoln Park, News Articles, Proposed Developments | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Chicago-area home sales jump 72% in November. That’s Awesome!

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on December 23, 2009

Chicago-area home sales jump 72% in November

By: Eddie Baeb Dec. 22, 2009

(Crain’s) — Chicago-area home sales soared 71.6% in November compared with the same month last year, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors.

Below is a monthly year-over-year comparison of home sales (single-family and condo) in the nine-county Chicago area.
Month 2009 2008 Change
January 2,965 3,927 -24.5%
February 3,082 4,326 -28.8%
March 4,260 5,759 -26.0%
April 4,747 6,094 -22.1%
May 5,634 6,927 -18.7%
June 7,140 7,806 -8.5%
July 7,427 7,408 0.3%
August 7,009 6,917 1.3%
September 6,862 6,477 5.9%
October 7,286 5,467 33.3%
November 6,826 3,978 71.6%
Source: Illinois Assn. of Realtors


The group cited pent-up demand from buyers, low interest rates and the federal tax credit for first-time home buyers as the reason for the fifth straight monthly year-over-year improvement for the Chicago metro area.

Home sales in November and October of 2008 were extremely low as the worst of the nation’s financial crisis was hitting.

“November’s sales surge reflects the rush to beat the tax-credit deadline,” Mike Onorato, the association’s president, said in a press release. The tax-credit deadline was extended from November through April 30, 2010.

Median prices in the Chicago area, however, continued to fall.

In November, the region’s median price – where half the homes sold for more and half sold for less – was $189,000, down 9.1% from $207,995 in November 2008.

Total sales in the region, including single-family homes and condominiums, were 6,826 compared with 3,978 in November 2008.

In the city of Chicago, November sales were up 69.9% to 1,859 compared with 1,094 homes sold in November 2008. The median price in the city was $215,000, down 3.4% from November 2008.

Statewide, home sales totaled 10,361 in November, up 64% from the same month last year. The statewide median price was $155,000, down 4.3% from November 2008.

Check out the full Crain’s Chicago Business article by clicking HERE!

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Adler School of Professional Psychology’s major move and expansion in the Loop.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on December 22, 2009

North Loop school moving to 1 N. Dearborn

By: Eddie Baeb Dec. 02, 2009

(Crain’s) — The Adler School of Professional Psychology is moving to the vintage office building at 1 N. Dearborn Street, a deal that doubles the school’s current space and is one of the biggest new leases downtown this year.

The Adler School will occupy two full levels at 1 N. Dearborn and is to move in January 2011 from its home of almost 20 years at 65 E. Wacker Place, a skinny building where the school is spread over seven floors.

At 1 N. Dearborn, a 17-story tower built in 1905 that includes Sears’ State Street department store, the school has leased 100,796 square feet that includes a designated first-level entrance and lobby. The school also will have a rooftop deck and has expansion options for the currently vacant 17th floor.

Adler President Raymond Crossman says the move will be “transformational” for the little-known school, which offers graduate-level courses in psychology and group counseling as well as social justice programs inspired by Alfred Adler, an Austrian psychiatrist who died in 1937 and is credited with coining the term “inferiority complex.”

Mr. Crossman says the move will accommodate the school’s recent growth, to 712 students this fall from 366 five years ago, and also help raise Adler’s profile.

“Right now, you can walk by the school and not really notice it. That won’t be possible at the new location,” says Mr. Crossman, adding that the new classroom space also will be a big improvement for students and staff. “It’s going to be hard to walk into that space and think inside the box. The space is going to be so innovative.”

While the recession has ravaged the office leasing market and burst the construction boom downtown, universities have been a bright spot for the Loop. Roosevelt University recently sold bonds to finance a new 32-story tower, which will be the second-tallest college building in the U.S. when completed in 2011, while Robert Morris University is also expanding….

Check out the full Crain’s Chicago Business article by clicking HERE!

1 N. Dearborn St. Photo from CoStar Group Inc.

Posted in Education, Leases, News Articles, The Loop | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Old West Loop proposed mixed use development makes me miss the Boom years.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on December 21, 2009

IBT Group Announces Partnership with Blackrock to Build Project in Chicago’s West Loop

August 7, 2007

IBT Group LLC, a real estate and asset management firm and advisory client of BlackRock Inc., one of the world’s largest investment management firms, have announced a partnership that will provide capital for a new mixed-use development in Chicago’s West Loop.

“Our partnership with BlackRock represents a significant step forward in our growth,” said IBT Group President Gary Pachucki, who founded the company in 1999. “It not only secures capital for West Loop Promenade, but also provides access to Wall Street, and the capital that will allow us to pursue larger, more complex transactions.”

“We are pleased to become a capital partner to IBT Group and its West Loop Promenade development, which has already secured a lease with Robert Redford’s Sundance Cinemas,” said Erik Grabowski, BlackRock Vice President. “We view the West Loop as one of the fastest-growing areas of Chicago and are excited about the opportunity to bring a high quality retail/entertainment project to the neighborhood.”

West Loop Promenade is a $240 million retail and residential project being developed by IBT Group on Chicago’s Near West Side. Scheduled for a spring 2009 opening, it will include 285,000 square feet of retail space on three levels, including the eight-screen Sundance Cinemas theaters.

Posted in Mixed Use, News Articles, Proposed Developments, West Loop | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

15 Year Loans Gaining Popularity Because of Record Low Interest Rates.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on December 20, 2009

15-Year Loans Gain Fans

Home buyers and home owners who are refinancing are increasingly enthusiastic about 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages.

Originations of 15-year mortgages at Wells Fargo & Co. are up 55 percent through November compared to a year ago. At J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., 20 percent of refinances are 15-year loans, up 10 percent in 2008.

One reason is that rates on 15-year fixed-rate conforming mortgages averaged 4.46 percent in early December, according to HSH Associates in Pompton Plains, N.J….

Check out the REALTOR® Magazine website for the article HERE!

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ChicagoismynewBlog! now past the 40,000 visitor mark!

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on December 9, 2009

When I got back home from being on vacation, I got the nice surprise that ChicagoismynewBlog! had surpassed the 40,000 hits mark…awesome!  Keep on visiting and keep telling your friends and colleagues about ChicagoismynewBlog! 


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