CHICAGO-Some say thatÂ Related Midwestâ€™sÂ new partnership to improve three failed South Loop condo projects are a gamble â€“ but presidentÂ Curt BaileyÂ says he believes the playing field is starting to level off. He announced Monday that he plans to renovate and sell about 500 condominium units in the buildings atÂ 1201 S. Prairie Ave., 1629 S. Prairie Ave. and 1901 S. Calumet Ave.
The properties are adjacent to Grant Park and the Museum Campus, not far from Lake Michigan. In the latter part of the last decade, a development group that included Cleveland-basedÂ Forest City Enterprises Inc.Â tried to build the condo buildings. However, as the bottom dropped out of the condo market, the group defaulted on the construction loans and a lender group took over. The lenders have now partnered with Related to finish the condos, which include One Museum Park West (1201 S. Prairie), a 54-story tower.
â€œThe word gamble comes up, and I agree that doing condos today is counter-intuitive to general perception,â€ Bailey says. â€œBut I donâ€™t see it as a gamble. If you spend time in the numbers, you see the historical rates of absorption and the population growth into the downtown, added to the complete dearth of new condo construction, itâ€™s clear itâ€™s not a gamble.â€
He says his company plans on spending more than $2 million to renovate the properties, including about 300 â€œrawâ€ units. â€œWeâ€™re going to make them look different than anything else in the South Loop,â€ Bailey says. â€œIâ€™m a big believer in this submarket.â€
His firm also has some significant projects as backup. Related is working on two luxury high-rise apartment complexes, more than 1,000 units,Â at 500 N. Lake Shore Dr.Â andÂ 111 W. Wacker Dr., as well asÂ One EvanstonÂ and the $100 million redevelopment ofÂ Parkway Gardens.
Bailey wouldnâ€™t talk condo prices, saying that, of course, his firm will do everything possible to get the best price for each unit. As the buildings were luxury to begin with, popular amenities already exist, but that his firm will be evaluating â€œwhat works and what isnâ€™t workingâ€ at each property. â€œIf something isnâ€™t working, we can go and make changes,â€ he says. â€œThis is a collaborative effort with the current homeowners.â€