South Side Condo Project Defies Odds

It's been a tough few years recently for condo projects in Chicago, so tough that most of them either haven't gotten out of the ground or have been reinvented in the more glamorous end of multifamily, as rental apartments.

Chicago—It’s been a tough few years recently for condo projects in Chicago, so tough that most of them either haven’t gotten out of the ground or have been reinvented in the more glamorous end of multifamily, as rental apartments. Still, some condo projects are chugging along, making their sales, such as the highest of the high end, and sometimes making headlines, like when Derrick Rose plunked down a cool $2.8 million for a piece of Trump Chicago.

Out of the limelight, a few other Chicago for-sale residential projects has survived long enough to sell as well. For instance, Lake Park Crescent, a 68-unit condo and row house development in the North Kenwood-Oakland neighborhood on the South Side, reports that it sold all its row houses sold out in a recent four-month span and that “only a handful” of its one- and three-bedroom condo units remain available.

The Draper and Kramer project has been able to take advantage of lower prices and low interest rates to persuade buyers to commit. At one time, asking prices for the new-construction row houses at Lake Park Crescent were $498,000, which was ultimately a no-go. More recently, the property has featured pricing starting at $229,800. In addition to aggressive pricing, Lake Park Crescent also offers special grants valued at up to $26,500, low-down payment options, and FHA-insured financing.

That kind of price drop is in line with overall trends in the market. The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index recently reported that Chicago-area residential prices are currently at levels not seen since May 2001, and condo prices are hovering at 2000 levels.

“Lake Park Crescent’s units are almost entirely owner-occupied,” Gordon P. Ziegenhagen, vice president with Draper and Kramer, tells MHN. “Unlike the old days–of five years ago—getting an investor loan typically carries higher interest rates and larger down-payments, potentially discouraging many would-be investors.”

Draper and Kramer also says that the project has location on its side, in a neighborhood that real estate agents like to call “emerging.” North Kenwood-Oakland, a mile-square neighborhood tucked along the lakefront between 35th and 43rd streets, has a population of about 5,900. Lake Park Crescent is near Lake Shore Drive, which provides access to downtown and other parts of the city, but also access to the lakeshore on the other side of the road.

Next year, the city plans to start construction on a $17 millon pedestrian bridge at 35th Street that would replace an existing span connecting the neighborhood to Burnham Park along the lake. A new footbridge at 41st Street and a replacement span at 43rd Street also are planned.