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Spencer Hayes' Blog

By Spencer Hayes | Agent in 36117

Related, Lenders to Bring Back South Loop Condos

CHICAGO-Some say that Related Midwest’s new partnership to improve three failed South Loop condo projects are a gamble – but president Curt Bailey 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 at 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-based Forest City Enterprises Inc. 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.

“The word gamble comes up, and I agree that doing condos today is counter-intuitive to general perception,” Bailey says. “But I don’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, it’s clear it’s not a gamble.”

He says his company plans on spending more than $2 million to renovate the properties, including about 300 “raw” units. “We’re going to make them look different than anything else in the South Loop,” Bailey says. “I’m a big believer in this submarket.”

His firm also has some significant projects as backup. Related is working on two luxury high-rise apartment complexes, more than 1,000 units, at 500 N. Lake Shore Dr. and 111 W. Wacker Dr., as well as One Evanston and the $100 million redevelopment of Parkway Gardens.

Bailey wouldn’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 “what works and what isn’t working” at each property. “If something isn’t working, we can go and make changes,” he says. “This is a collaborative effort with the current homeowners.”

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