Chicago Condo Developers

by : Keith Frank

From the time Chicago was incorporated on August 12, 1833 with a scant population of 350, the city has experienced continual growth well beyond the dreams and expectations of those original planners. With it's prime location along the two major waterways of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, it is a magnet for businesses and individuals drawn to the city's diversity and resources. Those factors, among others, are fueling the record number of new condominium project developments in the construction or planning phase between now and 2009.

Sales of new Chicago condos and townhomes have declined over the past few quarters, but that hasn't slowed the pace of builders eager to market new housing projects. According to statistics gathered by Appraisal Research Counselors of Chicago, sales of new construction condos decreased every quarter of 2006, averaging a drop of 16% from the previous year. But despite those figures, over 30 new buildings or conversions are in either the marketing or construction phase, particularly in the highly sought-after Millennium Park, Museum Park and South Loop areas.

This supply versus demand ratio has fostered serious competition among Chicago real estate developers. Generally, financers of construction loans such as LaSalle Bank or Lehman Brothers require that at least 50% of the units in a condominium be sold before financing is provided. Developers have become aware of the need to offer potential home buyers a product that is appealing not only in price, quality craftsmanship and location, but caters to the changing lifestyles of residents. Without strong pre-sales, a large percentage of planned town homes and condos will never rise any higher than the draft board.

Marketing techniques have become a vital tool for obtaining these pre-construction sakes numbers needed by Chicago Developers. The Internet has become the world's largest real estate agent, allowing builders to reach out with floor plans, photo shows, and pricing deals with pre-registration. On-site interior decorators are even offered to those who buy early. This has proven to be a boon to sales, with only the state of New York requiring builders to register their plans before offering any information publicly and pre-selling units. The Chicago townhomes and condos can be marketed to a much larger section of the population and the ease of home shopping without having to drive any distance is an added convenience for many of today's technology bent new buyers.

Large development companies are tapping into the more specialized wants and needs of buyers by providing services usually associated with accommodations in a five star hotel. American Invesco, DK Equity, Davis Group and Lennar Homes are a few of the mega builders experiencing success with this strategy.

Successful builder Centrum Properties most recent projects in Chicago are the Lofts at Roosevelt and Fairbanks at CityFront. Terrapin Properties, headquartered in the city, specializes in mixed use developments, including Burnham Point at 710 S. Clark. Smithfield Properties last two projects, Eric on the Park and Kingsbury on the Park, were in such demand that the units in this luxury condos sold out before construction even started.

Mesa Development/Walsh Construction is building the Legacy at Millennium Park, a stunning location with views of the lake and surrounding green acres. He high rise units allow residents a spectacular view of the Chicago skyline, waterways and nearby parks and developers guarantee it will never be obstructed. Potential residents are drawn by the prospect of living within easy access of outdoor recreation while still being close to downtown.

Another factor fueling the popularity of these Chicago condos and townhomes is the services provided to the residents. Most of these buildings include private exercise facilities, spas, pools, concierge service and countless other amenities in addition to the high quality furnishings in each unit. Private terraces and balconies, laundry service and indoor parking are also included with most condos. The focus is on catering to the lives of residents and building a sense of comfort, not just building a condominium.

Condos and conversions in the South Loop area are selling at a fast pace as well. This part of Chicago has long been known for its neighborhood charm, from the unique shops and small coffee houses to bigger retailers such as Macy's. The growth of new business and availability of affordable luxury homes has supported strong sales in this location.

Lexington Park, developed by the Chieftain Group, is a "green" building with LEED certification in the popular South Loop area. Belgravia Group's project at 565 Quincy is another property conveniently situated near the Loop.

The final numbers for 2007 will tell the rest of the new condominium market story for Chicago. But if the current trend continues, the last chapter in sales will probably consist of the proven new home builders who know what buyers want; great location, competitive prices and comfortable living. Visit for the insider scoop on Chicago condos and condo developers.