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By Kipp Blackburn | Broker in Chicago, IL
  • The Latest Trend in Chicago Real Estate: Apartment Galleries

    Posted Under: Entertainment & Nightlife, Shopping & Local Amenities, Property Q&A  |  May 28, 2011 12:01 PM  |  589 views  |  No comments
    Contemporary art galleries are often cold, cavernous, and antiseptic. But they don't have to be!

    Many gallery owners frequently paint and repaint the walls of their exhibition spaces, attempting to complement the colors of their paintings and sculptures. Many gallery owners also bring food, drinks, and live music to their openings, hoping to engage and entertain their visitors.

    And some gallery owners abandon the idea of a rarefied gallery space altogether, choosing instead to display artwork amidst the chaos and clutter of their own homes. These gallery owners open up apartment galleries, and they revel in the idiosyncrasies and imperfections of the domestic space.

    An apartment gallery is just what you might imagine it to be—an exhibition space located in a gallery owner’s apartment. The gallery owner lives, literally lives, with the artwork he or she chooses to display. And visitors who step inside these galleries are not only visiting a commercial exhibition space—they are also visiting someone’s home.

    Last week, I spoke with Caroline Picard, the owner of Green Lantern Gallery, a one-time apartment gallery.

    Caroline was kind enough to share her experiences as the owner of an apartment gallery with us here:

    Why did you choose to open Green Lantern as an apartment gallery, rather than a storefront gallery?


    I actually just sort of stumbled into the space. I had been house-sitting for a year and had just decided that I was going to stay in Chicago, so I thought I could look for a more permanent living situation. At first I was looking for studio apartments, but then—as I factored in the cost of that place and a separate studio to work in—I got a little overwhelmed by the cost. I happened to be walking down Milwaukee Avenue and saw a "for rent" sign in what would become the gallery. I decided to go and take a look at it; actually the cost was comparable to what I would have paid for the apartment and the studio. I had always wanted to run an apartment gallery/press and, looking at this empty space, I suddenly felt like I had that chance.

    What unique challenges did owning and operating an apartment gallery present?


    I realized that my space was ineligible for a business license, so I bumped up against some interesting aspects of civil bureaucracy. On the one hand, people I talked to in the city wanted me to stay open and tried to be really helpful. On the other hand, they couldn't help and we all agreed, in this case, the rules were stupid. That was pretty interesting. 


    What did you find most rewarding about owning an apartment gallery?


    It was a great way to be part of and learn from the Chicago contemporary art world. I met some really amazing friends and inspiring artists that way.


  • Chicagoans 'In the Loop' Shop in the Loop

    Posted Under: General Area, Shopping & Local Amenities, Market Conditions  |  May 28, 2011 11:46 AM  |  447 views  |  No comments
    For years, Chicagoans have spent their days working in the sky scrapers and mid rises of the Loop, and their nights....elsewhere.

    The Loop has long suffered the stigma of being branded as a business center only. Dozens of major corporations, including up-and-coming Chicago-based businesses like Groupon and Grub Hub, have made their homes in the Loop. But relatively few retail centers and apartment complexes have followed suit.

    But real estate experts suggest that that may be about to change. Several new retail centers have chosen to set up shop within the limits of the Loop, and most of them seem to be doing quite well for themselves.

    Retail giants like Target and Walmart were undoubtedly encouraged to purchase property in the Loop after learning that no less than 72 new leases were signed in the Loop on 2010, and it stands to reason that even more leases will be signed in 2011.

    If these housing trends continue, the retail centers building in the Loop are likely to make quite a profit on their investments.

  • DSW in Downtown Chicago

    Posted Under: General Area, Shopping & Local Amenities, Market Conditions  |  May 28, 2011 11:44 AM  |  790 views  |  1 comment
    The real estate developer Joseph Freed and Associates LLC announced recently that DSW Shoe Warehouse, Inc., will be moving into a 26,000-square-foot retail space in downtown Chicago. According to Joseph Freed, DSW has already signed a lease for a two floors in The Sullivan Center on State Street.

    DSW intends to occupy roughly 5,000 square feet on the first floor of the Sullivan Center, and an additional 21,000 square feet in the Center's lower level.

    This new retail branch will be directly across from a Target store—to be completed later this year. It will also be close to a Walgreens, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

    This DSW will take up approximately 75% of the retail space available in the Sullivan Center, and will offer Chicago shoppers a "big box" shopping experience in the heart of the loop.

    If construction goes as planned, DSW will open this Chicago super-store sometime in the spring of 2012.

    For more information on this construction project, keep checking the CondoDomain blog!

  • Walmart Slated to Set up Shop in Lakeview and Logan Square

    Posted Under: Quality of Life, Shopping & Local Amenities, In My Neighborhood  |  May 27, 2011 11:09 AM  |  709 views  |  No comments
    Many residents of Lakeview were disappointed to learn that the retail giant Walmart intends to set up shop in their neighborhood later this year. For months, concerned citizens and neighborhood activists protested the construction of a Lakeview Walmart.

    Even now, hundreds of Lakeview residents continue to bemoan the addition of another Walmart to the cityscape of Chicago, even as Walmart moves forward with its plans to build in Lakeview.

    And, even though these plans for a Lakeview Walmart seem to have been finalized, many Chicagoans remain undeterred. In fact, neighborhood activists have chosen to look upon this temporary setback as an incentive to redouble their efforts to prevent Walmart from embarking on any more construction projects in Chicago.

    Facebook groups like this one have sprung up in recent weeks, and the residents of Logan Square—working in tandem with the residents of several other Chicago neighborhoods—have been working tirelessly to see to it that Walmart's next construction project in The Windy City meets with more resistance.

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