South Loop condos for sale as development goes on hold

Sale, hold

10/27/2010 10:00 PM

By BOB SPOERL
Medill News Service

1 Comment - Add Your Comment


Fresh high-rises scrape the South Loop sky, many line south Michigan Avenue.
Bob Spoerl/Medill

Condominium developers flocked to the South Loop in the 1990s because it contained available land near downtown that was affordable compared to surrounding neighborhoods. They hoped to cash in on the housing boom and offer young professionals an opportunity to own their homes.

But the recession intervened.

“Because [the South Loop] has had the most growth in the last few years in any neighborhood, you have some of the most troubled projects down here,” said Keith Giles, who started a realty group in 1996 focusing on South Loop real estate.

Chicago real estate experts now expect no new condominium development in the neighborhood for several years and some existing units wait for owners.

“We went for too much of an expansion on condos,” said South Loop Remax real estate agent Barb Buckner. “It had great potential when we thought we had the Olympics.”

At the Roosevelt Collection, luxury lofts at 150 W. Roosevelt Rd., the developer is no longer seeking potential owners.

“We’re moving forward as rental and we switched to rental as of last year,” said leasing agent Roxie Ransom.

September foreclosures filed in the South Loop’s primary ZIP code were higher per household than the city average. One in every 217 units in the area faced foreclosure proceedings, compared to the city average of one in every 286 units, according to realtytrac.com, a website which tracks foreclosures across the nation. South Loop foreclosure rates are higher in comparison to other trendy neighborhoods with a young professional base. During September, one in every 331 units in Bucktown were in foreclosure, one in 708 units in Lincoln Park and one in every 1201 units in Lakeview.

Many residents moving to the South Loop are young professionals in their late 20s and early 30s, Buckner said. She feels that the neighborhood needs more businesses and restaurants to attract enough residents to fill vacant condominiums.

“All you have is your condo buildings. They haven’t brought restaurants, they haven’t brought the stores,” South Loop real estate agent Buckner said.

Robert Hughes, who works at Kriser’s, a pet store at 1103 S. State St., says business there has continued to thrive during the economic downturn. But he sees the impact in the residential units that occupy the same building. At least 12 are in foreclosure, he said.

Gail Lissner, vice president of Appraisal Research Counselors, a private real estate research firm, forecasts no new condominium development in the South Loop. But that doesn’t mean business can’t make it in the neighborhood, she said.

Giles remains optimistic that people will stay in — or move to — the South Loop. A combination of job growth and economic stabilization will refuel the stagnant downtown condominium market, he predicts.

Lissner said that the South Loop’s close proximity to the city and its stock of newly developed buildings still make it an attractive neighborhood, even if development is on hold.

“Long term, the South Loop will do just fine,” Lissner said.

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By BJ from South Loop
Posted: 10/28/2010 12:49 PM

It is true the South Loop does need more businesses. Unfortunately, many businesses have moved out due to greedy landlords who live under a rock and do not know the economy is bad. So they are charging an arm and a leg for leasing those commercial spaces and those spaces remain empty. Examples: old Wamu in the 600 block of S. Dearborn, old GNC, Gourmands and Doggie Bath House in the 700 block of S. Dearborn, and the retail space next to Xsport as well as many more!