South Loop Still on the Rise
by stephanie sims
It was only a few years ago that the South Loop was an emerging neighborhood, bustling with new construction and boasting a community feel similar to downtown Chicago and the lakefront. With the recession came partially sold buildings and developers in financial jams, but today, as the market gradually recovers, one developer in particular is looking to “rebuild” the South Loop to its full potential.
Related Midwest has taken over three towers in the Museum Campus neighborhood—1201 South Prairie Avenue, 1901 South Calumet Avenue, and 1629 South Prairie Avenue—and has renamed them The Grant, Harbor View, and Adler Place, respectively. Curt Bailey, president of Related Midwest, says he couldn’t turn down such a tremendous opportunity. “With as much depreciation as the South Loop has experienced, it’s still a great place to live,” he enthuses. “We began working with partners on this acquisition over a year and a half ago. We looked at the numbers, and we are real believers in the South Loop market. The access to the city, parks, the waterfront, transportation, schools, and medical centers is unmatched in Chicago.”
Indeed, the South Loop has always been unique in Chicago because of its proximity to the lakefront and lush, green parks, as well as the bustling downtown and highways, offering the best of both worlds. Bailey hopes the close-knit-neighborhood feel and access to city amenities will attract even more home buyers to the area. His aim is for these three redeveloped buildings to help reestablish the area as a great home for upwardly mobile professionals and young families.
Anyone who pays attention to the monthly S&P/Case-Shiller report can’t deny that the data is showing a gradual return to normalcy. But while the market is starting to gain ground once again, prices in this tender sector of it are critical—if units are priced too high, they go untouched for months. Still, Bailey and his president of sales, David Wolf, are confident the price range ($200,000 to $2 million) for their new brand of “South Loop Luxury,” as they call it, will be appropriate. “We’re seeing rents rise so high that now, for many people, it makes more sense to buy, and that’s the case in the South Loop, especially for buyers looking for luxury,” says Wolf.
Related Midwest is focused on making sure each building matches its new vision of revamped luxury. Harbor View, a 30-story tower, has had an exterior paint job, and its 296 units, which range from 735- to 1,625-square-foot condos and 2,425- to 2,855-square-foot townhomes, will have appliances and interior looks similar to Adler Place, a 32-story, 275-unit building with 900- to 1,571-square-foot units: engineered hardwood floors, Bosch built-in appliances, stainless-steel fridges, custom Snaidero cabinetry, natural stone in the master bath, and custom Symmons faucets for the kitchen and bathroom sinks. For The Grant—a 54-story, 298-unit tower that will be the most luxurious building of the three—Related Midwest is taking the same strategy of leveraging the company’s national buying power for quality brands. The Grant’s units, which range from 787 to 3,000 square feet, will feature Snaidero cabinetry with high-gloss lacquer upper finishes, quartz countertops, Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances, and Balitero wide-plank floors. New furniture will be added to public spaces like the rooftop deck, and the lobbies will be redone in a more sophisticated palette. “We look at what the finished package will be and how each detail can complete the full design,” says Ann Thompson, senior vice president of architecture and design at Related Midwest. “We are being thoughtful about what we choose and how it’s appropriate in terms of design, quality level, sustainability, and functionality for the short term and long term.”
The Grant is also being equipped with updated building amenities in addition to the existing pool and workout room. The media room and business centers are being redesigned, and there was so much extra space in the building, Related Midwest was able to add a bike room, a concierge room with dry cleaning service and package delivery, a playroom, and even a dog spa.
More than anything, Bailey is excited to help the South Loop make its long-awaited comeback. While the company can’t rename the area, it is still using “South Loop Luxury” as a mantra. “It gets to the core of the neighborhood,” Bailey says. “It’s a great area, and we’re confident our time and effort spent on redeveloping these buildings will really benefit the market.”
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