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Three years behind schedule, Green Exchange close to signing a major tenant.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on July 30, 2010

Have you noticed that hulking, huge, vacant, massive, old, other adjective warehouse that backs against the Metra tracks, I90, and Diversey?  Well that’s the Green Exchange, located at 2545 W. Diversey Pkwy.

Originally planned as loft condos, the neighborhood had major issues with the plans so the development was halted.  Does anyone know why there was an issue with an old delapidated lamp factory being turned into nice, new condos?  Now being advertised as the nation’s biggest showcase for environmentally friendly businesses, it’s been quite the elephant in the room for the neighborhood because the Green Exchange is three years behind schedule.

The developers are currently in talks to land a major lease with Coyote Logistics LLC which will take 18-31% of the 227,450 square feet of available space making the building over 70% leased.  Some would say Coyote Logistics isn’t much of a green buiness but Coyote is a trucking company that works to minimize the number of trucks traveling empty, which in turn reduces energy consumption and emissions.

Check out the full Crain’s Chicago Business article AND video HERE!

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New 427-Unit Apartment Tower Set for River North

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on July 28, 2010

According to this ChicagoRealEstateDaily article, AMLI Residential is partnering up with developer Friedman Properties to build a 49 story apartment building in the Southeast corner of Clark and Hubbard.  The building isn’t slated to begin until spring of 2011 at the very earliest but a completion date of 2013 seems to be a good bet.

Taking advantage of having the Greenway Self Park right next door, the AMLI building’s residents will enjoy a large landscaped roof deck on top of the garage. Amenities will include a swimming pool, a jogging path and dog runs.  Pretty cool!

As long as they keep saving the old three story buildings in River North and keep building on surface parking lots, I’ll be a happy camper.

Check out the full ChicagoRealEstateDaily article by clicking HERE!

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River North’s Staybridge Suites in another legal battle as foreclosure looms.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on May 24, 2010

Take a look at Crain’s Chicago Business’ article about our poor Staybridge Suites hotel that has sat as an empty 16 story shell for nearly two years.  Wow, time flies.

Investors battle lender on stalled Miglin hotel

127 W. Huron. Photo from CoStar Group Inc.
By: Alby Gallun May 19, 2010

(Crain’s) — Chicago developer Duke Miglin and an Irish group he recruited to invest in his stalled River North hotel project are striking back at the lender trying to foreclose on the property, now just a 16-story concrete shell draped in canvas.

Mr. Miglin and his prospective partner allege that the lender, CapitalSource Finance LLC, reneged on an agreement to recapitalize and restart the planned Staybridge Suites hotel at 127 W. Huron St., which has been idle for nearly two years.

A venture financed by the Irish investors filed a federal lawsuit earlier this month to force CapitalSource to return a $1-million deposit from the venture that would have gone toward the aborted recapitalization.

It is the latest salvo in the dispute over the failed 216-room hotel development, which was launched at the peak of the hotel boom but is now just another symbol of the bust. CapitalSource, which provided a $43.1-million construction loan for the project, filed a foreclosure suit in October 2008 alleging that a venture led by Mr. Miglin failed to put up an additional $5.9 million to finance the hotel as required under the loan agreement….

Click HERE to look at the full Crain’s Chicago Business article.

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Shelbourn Development scales back its Chicago Spire sales center.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on May 19, 2010

Not too exciting or surprising news coming from Chicago Breaking News but at least Shelbourne’s doing the smart thing by downsizing their sales center operation to the Shelbourne Development offices at 111 S. Wacker Drive.  During the Spire’s peak in sales, their lease took up the entire 18th floor at NBC tower but for the past nine months, we have seen some legal drama going on when NBC Tower sued Shelbourne in order to evict them from the building.  I’m really curious to find out if anyone is buying in the building still.

Chicago Spire developer scales back on sales office

Published on May 17, 2010 9:52 AM | Submit a comment

Spire-Two-Web.jpg
The developer behind the Chicago Spire closed its posh sales office over the weekend, relocating the marketing arm for the long-stalled project to a much less grand office space nearby.

Shelbourne Development Group, which has been battling the owner of the NBC Tower for nine months, consolidated the sales function into its own office space at 111 S. Wacker. A spokeswoman for Spire developer Garrett Kelleher denied that the move signaled that the project was dead.

“He’s being smart,” the spokeswoman said. “If you’re in a situation where things are slowing down, you need to consolidate and you need to be smart. Clearly the economy has been tough and he’s had to focus on areas of his portfolio that are doing well.”

The sales office in the NBC building, which occupied the entire 18th floor, opened in early 2008 and included touches designed by Spire architect Santiago Calatrava and a built-out model of a Spire condominium.

The owner of the NBC Tower sued Shelbourne to evict the developer last August, charging that the company had not made a rent payment since April. In March, the case was dismissed by agreement, and a $55,082.06 judgment for NBC Tower was voided.

Instead of touring a model unit, potential buyers will see samples of materials and three-dimensional computer models, the spokeswoman said.

The sales office’s closing is likely to cast more doubt on whether the twisting, 2,000-foot-tall skyscraper will ever rise from the circular hole in the ground that now exists alongside 400 N. Lake Shore Drive. Shelbourne has been beset by financial problems since starting the skyline-defining project just as the financial and real estate markets were seizing up.

Shelbourne and Kelleher remain in litigation with Bank of America Corp., which filed suit last August, charging the developer with defaulting on a loan and said it was due $4.9 million. Bank of America said Kelleher personally guaranteed the loan. Kelleher and his company fired back in a countersuit, claiming the lender committed fraud and deception in arranging a loan used to start the building…

Check out the full article by clicking HERE!

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New construction slated for the Poetry Foundation in River North.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on April 25, 2010

The Poetry Foundation, designed by Chicago’s John Ronan Architects, is slated to begin construction sometime soon at its new location on the Southwest corner of Dearborn and Superior Streets.  The Foundation’s new office is slated to open in June 2011 and will be one of a few actual places devoted to the advancement of poetry in the United States.

You go…Poetry Foundation!  I suppose I never would have thought poetry needed a building to advance itself but if the building turns out like these photos, advance away.  I love the contrast of the black, sleek, modern look next to the older buildings that are made from stone and concrete. 

Check out a nice article from the Poetry Foundation’s website by clicking HERE!

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@properties opening a new office in Winnetka with 50 agents!

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on April 24, 2010

@Properties follows customers as they head north

Mary Ellen Podmolik Local SceneApril 23, 2010

Ten years after co-founding @Properties in Chicago, Michael Golden and Thaddeus Wong are firming their commitment to the North Shore with a second office.

Last week, the duo bought a building along Green Bay Road in Winnetka near the Indian Hill Metra station and they plan to open an office there in August with 50 agents. That follows @Properties’ first step in suburbia last summer when it opened an Evanston office now staffed by 75 agents. And if all goes according to plan, they want a Highland Park office in 2011.

Moving into a north suburban market that is largely dominated by Coldwell Banker Residential is a challenge they say they’re up to, particularly because the Evanston office has done better than expected.

In one respect, @Properties is growing up with its client base. The firm made its mark selling condos and new developments within the city and a decade later, some of those clients have married, started families and begun moving to the suburbs.

Following customers as they move north, rather than in another direction, is a bit easier because of the consistent demographics of the North Shore. “We felt like we can get a lot of traction here quickly,” Golden said, with Wong adding “This is the most natural progression for us. It’s growth during a period of time when everyone tells you you shouldn’t be growing. There’s nothing that can be forced right now.”

Growing organically, rather than through acquisition in an industry where consolidation continues, will remain @Properties’ strategy, the pair agree. “When you buy a company, the agents that come with that company don’t have a choice. [Then] you’ve got agents who have changed their business card and the agents don’t love that,” Wong noted.

Last year, @Properties’ sales volume totaled $1.78 billion with 859 agents, compared with $1.88 billion and 738 agents at year-end 2008. Based on data reported to Midwest Real Estate Data LLC, Broker Metrics gave @Properties a leading 12.48 percent market share within Chicago last year….

Check out the full Chicago Tribune article by clicking HERE!  Feels good to be #1!  Feel free to contact me with any of your real estate needs:  jeffstewart@atproperties.com.

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Chicago’s Downtown Office Vacancies Have Reached a New 4 Year High.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on April 3, 2010

Downtown office vacancy highest in 4 years

By: Thomas A. Corfman March 29, 2010

(Crain’s) — The downtown vacancy rate has made its biggest leap in seven years, as a sharp drop in demand was compounded by the completion of yet another office project.

The vacancy rate spiked to 14.9% during the first quarter, compared to 13.8% during the fourth quarter and 11.5% during the first quarter of 2009, according to a report by the Chicago office of real estate firm CB Richard Ellis Inc.The jump of 1.1 percentage points is the largest single-quarter increase since the fourth quarter of 2002, when the vacancy rate climbed 2.1 percentage points, to 12.9%, in the wake of another recession.

The vacancy rate has climbed for six consecutive quarters and now stands at the highest level since first-quarter 2006, when the vacancy was 15.1%. During the last decade, the vacancy rate peaked at 16.0% at the end of 2005.

Yet in a hopeful sign, the amount of sublease space fell during the first quarter, the first decline in two years, prompting some landlord representatives to think the worst may be over.

“I think we have nudged off the bottom,” says landlord rep Robert Gillespie, a senior vice-president with CB Richard Ellis. “I am not suggesting that we are on a sharp V-type of recovery, but we are on an upward trajectory.”

Including sublease space, the overall vacancy rate shot up to 17.1% during the first quarter, compared to 16.2% during the fourth quarter and 13.3% during the first quarter of 2009, CB Richard Ellis says.

The increase in overall vacancy is the largest single-quarter jump in five years.

Demand for downtown office space plunged by more than 700,000 square feet during the first quarter, the fourth time during the past six quarters that demand has fallen. The drop in demand is the biggest single-quarter decline since the fourth quarter of 2002.

Demand is measured by net absorption, the change in the amount of leased and occupied space, compared to the previous quarter.

Mr. Gillespie says that first-quarter demand reduction is the result of corporate decisions made six to nine months ago.

But tenant representative Daniel Arends says he expects the vacancy rate to rise another full percentage point this year, adding, “There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of demand.”

More than half of tenants with leases coming due are renewing, compared with just 30% to 35% in 2008, says Mr. Arends, a principal in Rosemont-based Colliers Bennett & Kahnweiler Inc.

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

Photo brought to you by delobbo.com

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Big losses for those involved with The Chicago Spire…no surprises here.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on February 23, 2010

Spire affiliate reports big loss linked to stalled tower

By Eddie Baeb and Thomas A. Corfman, Feb. 03, 2010

(Crain’s) — A Dublin-based affiliate of Chicago Spire developer Garrett Kelleher reported a $207.6-million annual loss, much of which is attributed to the stalled Spire project.

Clarinabbey Ltd. says in an annual financial report filed last week in Ireland that the company took a loss provision against loans made to other companies led by Mr. Kelleher – including one that’s been a major financing vehicle for the Spire. Clarinabbey says the provision stems from “uncertainty associated with the recoverability of amounts owed by group companies.”

Financial results were reported in Euros and converted to U.S. dollars.

The Spire project, a twisting, 1,194-unit condominium tower at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive that would have been the tallest building in the United States, may account for at least $135 million of the $197.7-million loss provision, based on a previous filing by Shelbourne Finance Ltd., which is the entity pegged to the provision in Clarinabbey’s filing.

Shelbourne Finance has previously said the firm provided an interest-free loan of $38.2 million to a Spire-related entity and separately advanced the project $96.8 million, according to its 2008 annual report, the most recent available.

Clarinabbey, whose majority owner is Mr. Kelleher, reported last week that it is “technically in breach” on loan-to-value and interest-coverage covenants with its lenders, a group that includes the now-nationalized Anglo Irish Bank Corp., along with Royal Bank of Scotland Plc and Bank of Scotland (Ireland) Ltd.

Clarinabbey says it’s working to negotiate a standstill agreement with the banks or a restructuring of its loans, but that “there exists a fundamental uncertainty over the company’s ability to meet its obligations as and when they fall due.”

The financial reports were filed with the Companies Registration Office in Ireland.

Calls to spokeswomen for Shelbourne and a voicemail left at the firm’s Chicago office on Wacker Drive weren’t returned.

Clarinabbey reported the $207.6-million loss for the period ended March 31, 2009.

Wow.  To read the full ChicagoRealEstateDaily.com article, click HERE!

Photo courtesy of Tropolism.com

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New restaurants, including Bull & Bear, to open around River North.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on February 19, 2010

Bull & Bear owners, diner to open River North locations

By: Todd J. Behme Feb. 05, 2010

(Crain’s) — The owners of the popular Bull & Bear pub and a local diner plan to open new locations this year in River North.

The firm that owns the Bull & Bear and Stone Lotus, Twilight Traffic Control LLC, leased 12,000 square feet on the ground level and basement at 400 N. State St. for an upscale, “beer-centric” pub that’s to open in September, says Luke Stoioff, a partner with Twilight Traffic.

The new pub will have a different concept than Bull & Bear, a sports bar, and Stone Lotus, a nightclub.

The 10-year lease has several five-year extension options, Mr. Stoioff says. The location will be twice as large as the firm’s two other River North spots and have a little more expansive menu than Bull & Bear, 431 N. Wells St., serving contemporary American comfort food, he says. It also will have beer taps at the tables.

The 400 N. State building is now 80% leased, says Marc Bushala, the majority owner and managing partner of the group that bought it in 2008.

News of Twilight Traffic’s plans was reported last week by newsletter Marina City Online, which says Redfish closed in July 2008.

Separately, Clarke’s Restaurant signed a 15-year lease this week for 6,650 square feet at 343 W. Erie St., says Arthur Holmer, a managing principal of the building owner, Chicago-based real estate investment firm Wells Street Cos.

Clarke’s, whose “Oh my. You should eat” sign at the 930 W. Belmont Ave. location is well-known to CTA riders, is to occupy space vacated about a year and half ago by residential real estate brokerage Keller Williams Realty, Mr. Holmer says.

The new location will be the biggest for Clarke’s, whose three others are about 4,000 square feet, says Dan Moon of Moon LLC, who represented both sides in the lease. The River North site is targeted to open in mid-April, he says.

Both Clarke’s and Twilight Traffic’s have proven concepts, which should help them succeed even in today’s economy, says Jeremy Kudan, principal at Chicago-based brokerage Kudan Group Inc., which specializes in restaurants and was not involved in either deal.

High traffic and River North’s affluent demographics also give both “a huge chance at long-term success,” Mr. Kudan says in an e-mail.

In an e-mail statement, Clarke’s owner Tom Tsatas says River North “is a perfect location for our clientele and we are looking forward to becoming the local neighborhood restaurant for quality, inexpensive American fare.”

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

Photo courtesy of Time Out Chicago

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How to live big in a small home. Average home size on the decline.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on February 18, 2010

Living Big in a Small Home

 

After years of upsizing, Americans are enjoying the benefits of more modest living spaces.

By Maggie Sieger | February 2010

With the average home size declining, owners are cleverly doing more with the square footage they have.

Years before house staging came into vogue as a sales tool, Howard Hoffman was helping sellers rearrange their furniture to maximize floor space and enhance a home’s beauty. Hoffman, GRI, SRES®, now owns Stage & $ell, a home staging and redesign company in Indianapolis.

Chances are he’ll have a lot more business in the years ahead from people needing to resize their lives. With baby boomers entering retirement, young adults delaying marriage, and the economy improving by fits and starts, Americans are starting to embrace the idea that less is more when it comes to their square footage. The average size of a new house decreased last year for the first time in nearly three decades. 

“Home buyers have been changing,” says Fran Litton, a planner with Evans Group, an architectural firm in Orlando, Fla. “They still want the luxury and toys, but they’re putting them into a smaller space.”

Although the average square footage of a new house is still double what it was in 1960, in the last year, it decreased slightly to 2,215 square feet from a high of 2,277 square feet in 2008, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. While the decrease doesn’t approach mid-20th century levels, it is the first drop in house size since the recession of the early 1980s.

Smaller houses can mean bigger challenges for real estate professionals. “Eighty percent of people appreciate only what they can see,” says Hoffman, who also works as a sales associate with F.C. Tucker Co. in Indianapolis. “You have to make sure you’re showing them what you’ve got.” That means making sure each room is easily identified. “Get rid of that desk and computer in the dining room,” he says. “Make sure buyers can see it’s a dining room.”

Hoffman also advises clients to remove rugs to show off hardwood floors and take pictures off the walls. “The less the eye has to distract it, the bigger a room feels,” says Hoffman. “People buy what they see. If they can’t see the floors or the walls, they won’t buy the house.”

Interior designer Roberta Lathrop agrees. She tells her clients with smaller kitchens to clear the counters. “You can’t have all the small appliances sitting on the counter,” says Lathrop, who runs Designs by Roberta in Belmont, Mich. “It will start looking very cluttered very fast.” 

Smaller houses require owners to rethink what they have and how they use things. “If you have a smaller house, maybe you don’t need half a dozen different pans,” she explains. “Maybe a single flat griddle that you can put over a couple of burners will do.”

One of the first tasks she assigns clients is to go through their stuff—ruthlessly. “We all have too much stuff,” she says. “Get rid of it. If you’re attached to an item, or think maybe you’ll need it, put it in a box and store it somewhere for six months. Then go back through it. 

Have you used it? Have you even missed it? If not, donate it. Get it out of the house.” That goes for clothes as well, she says.

Go ahead and read the full REALTOR® Magazine article and check out the tips that are included in the article.  Click HERE!

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