Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How Far Along is the Damen Brown Line CTA?



One of the most asked question I get other than "How's the market?", is, "When is my Brown Line station going to be completed?".

In the Ravenswood neighborhood, residents use the Montrose Brown Line stop at the southern end or the Damen Brown Line stop on the northern end. Montrose was completed and opened earlier this year... about the time we witnessed the sink hole on Montrose between Ashland and Damen Avenues.

We use the Damen Brown Line station and we can see the light. It should open by the end of November this year. Just in time for the winter.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Is Ravenswood Close to Belmont Harbor Chicago?

In no way is Ravenswood considered a lakefront neighborhood. However, it certainly has easy access to Lake Michigan. What we don't realize is how quickly you can get to the lake on a bike. Belmont Harbor is about a 20 minute bike ride from any location in the Ravenswood neighborhood.

This weekend we found ourselves sailing out of Belmont Harbor with some friends. I have sailed out of this harbor several times; twice, chartering boats for client trips. Here's a shot pulling out from our slip.
So, we live in Ravenswood to own a larger home with greater parking options... but still easily ride to the lake for an afternoon of sailing.

Restored Two Flat for Sale in Ravenswood Manor, Albany Park Area

Top floor: Three bedroom, one bath, dining room, living room, sun room, large kitchen, front terrace.
First floor: Two bedroom, one bath, dining room, sun room, large kitchen.
Kitchens and baths gutted and replaced in 2003.
Great patio, yard and two plus car garage.

Asking $499,900

I will have a restored two-flat coming on the market in the Ravenswood Manor, Albany Park neighborhoods. Because it is located near the intersection of Whipple and Leland, I use the two neighborhood names because the property is pretty much on the designated borders. But these things are a bit subjective. That said, you will have the best of both worlds in each neighborhood. You can also walk to the Lincoln Square neighborhood.

Please call for a showing before it hits market after the holiday. We are prepping for photos and finishing a few details before open market. This is a move-in, owner quality building. Move right in and own a building, rent one unit and pay the same monthly as a two bedroom condo... no kidding.

Here is a list of some of the restorations and improvements:

Removed wood paneling and drop ceilings
Removed paint from woodwork

Removed paint and plaster from fireplaces
Restored original mantels

Removed ceilings and added insulation (50%)

Removed wall paper and repair/replace all walls, ceilings

Replaced all ceiling fans

Remodeled back porch add on (tile floor, drywall, speaker system).

Replace the roof (overlay)

Gut rehab of all kitchens and bathrooms

Replaced all but 5 remaining original windows with vinyl or wood replacements

Complete tear down and reconstruction of front porch and balcony (lentil replacement)

Replaced boiler
Added automated sprinkler system for plants

Re-sided garage
Replaced roof cap
Tuck-point (maintenance) of near-roof brick (parapet)

Added fencing to north side fence
Replaced back gate with taller wrought iron

Replaced wood ceiling underneath front porch

Refinished all wood floors

Rerouted phone lines on second floor

Added three wired DSL connections

Replaced all but three of the steam valves on radiators

Replaced several water valves in basement

All plumbing down to basement is new

Laid down stone in back yard

Fabricated and installed custom made oak door to balcony

Friday, August 22, 2008

Realtors on Bikes: A New Movement in Chicago?

My friend Yokota over at Cyclelicious sent me a Wall Street Journal story by Nancy Keates describing how Realtors around the country are taking clients on homes tours... by bike. I wish I had the peaceful environment of Colorado and Oregon! They did talk to an agent in New York City... that guy has it all over on me.

I was also interviewed this week by the Associated Press concerning riding as a Realtor. One point I brought up is that it's hard to be different and some clients may not want me to show up to their listings on my bike. One tends to dress more casual for example. For the most part, client's are supportive and like that I will ride over to show their homes on very short notice.

Look forward to a separate section in my side bar for Chicago cycling information and related links.

Thanks Cyclicious for the support and watch for the AP story soon!

Photo I took from the 1st Chicago Criterium race held in down town... not a house tour on bikes.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chicago Condo Statistics: Median Price Up?

I was quoted on ChicagoCondosOnline.blogspot.com concerning the rise in Chicago's median price for condos this year.

Check out a few of the comments from me and other Rubloff experts HERE

I took the photo from the roof top at 88 W Schiller.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Speaking of New Conversion Condos in Ravenswood...

It is surprising that this conversion condo project has not moved along. The market is strong for this kind of project in Ravenswood. Recently on the same block,
a three bedrooms, three bathrooms duplex down in a converted three flat building re-sold quickly for $459,000. It was pretty big…but the layout was not that great. However, it was only a three year old condo conversion and had two car parking, great deck and a nice little fenced yard.

Earlier this year, two other conversion duplex downs on the street sold for
$500,000 and $545,000. The latter selling in less than 20 days.

This may be a developer running out of money... or maybe a violation haulted the renovation. There are no signs indicating any official action. Another curious project I'd like to ask about from Alderman Schulter's office.

Ravenswood Landscaping of the Week

I wrote about this three flat condo conversion located on the 4900 block of North Winchester a few weeks back. You can see here that things have stalled a little bit. The landscaping is a little over grown and I'm surprised the neighbors have not complained.

The is a beautiful block in Ravenswood, however, not overly stuffy about the landscaping. But wow.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Sunday in Ravenswood: The Raven

We did make The Raven Sunday at Chase Park. At about 3:30 or so to the closing act, the crowd was very manageable. It was awesome to have an actual field for the kids.

First stop was the KidzNest for some song and dance.

Next was the moon jumps.

Pony rides...

Ryne went home with mom and left me with The M's and friends. They were really good.

The food, beer and bands were set up along Clark Street between the east side of Chase Park and residential condos on the west side of the street. There has been a huge boon in residential condo development running from about Montrose to Foster, with new buildings still coming. With many new residents, an improved park and new retail, this stretch in Ravenswood has really become desirable.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sunday Open House: Albany Park Condo with Full Basement and Parking!

3303 W Ainslie Open House this Sunday from 1PM to 3PM. Asking $267,000 with full basement and parking included.

I will host an Open House this Sunday at 3303 W Ainslie in Albany Park from 1PM to 3PM. The location is rapidly developing with new construction buildings around the Kedzie and Kimball Brown Line CTA stations. This two bedroom top floor unit with a FULL BASEMENT and parking included is in an established 12 unit conversion building with a side yard. Really neat corner building.

Click HERE for more photos and details.

There is a host of established conversion condo buildings in this location, but the new construction at much higher prices represents a second round of investment in this very commuter friendly location. This is a great deal for someone who needs to be close to the trains and needs lots of storage space.

The Raven: A New Fest for the Ravenswood Area

I received an email from Gene Shulter's office (47th Ward) for The Raven, a fest that is being held to raise money for renovations at Chase Park.

UptownUpdate had a nice post about it earlier this week as well.

We are excited to attend and donate for a couple reasons. First, we live near the park and take Ryne to the pool there once-in-a-while. We also would like to see another "water playground" feature added to the renovation plan. There is an awesome water feature at River Park that Ryne likes more than the pool. Much more fun when you're little.

See you at the "KidzNest" Sunday after my open house in Albany Park... it's a big weekend in Chicago.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Development and Improvements in Ravenswood: Lawrence and Damen

The Ravesnwood neighborhood has seen plenty of quality condo conversions, new construction homes, renovated single family homes and new business over the past 10 to 15 years. But the corner of Damen and Lawrence has remained a bit of an eye sore. It's busy and a bit crusty compared to the lush, serene tree-lined surroundings.

However, two major condo developments started to change the corner over the last 4 years. The 4814 N Damen building pictured above on the northwest corner is a terrific 30 something unit elevator building with some very nice layouts. It's been a successful addition to the neighborhood and houses a CVS drug store... which is super convenient (especially to us parents). More recently, the 4815 N Damen 9 unit condo building just in from the corner extended the row of new construction on the east side of Damen.

At the southeast corner pictured above, a pretty solid and now established T-Mobile store took the place of a run down, hanger-on bar. This completely improved the busy intersection in one swoop. Below is a look at the new masonry work being completed to the retail building. It will look great when finished. They renovated the second level as well. I’m curious to know how the space will be used. Apartments? New Business?

On the northeast corner, a dumpy convenient store was cleared out and renovations have been taking place. Just a few steps north from this corner, a new food establishment is going in the site of a former small coffee shop.

On the southwest corner is the existing senior facility run by the Chicago Department of Senior Services. It’s a pretty nice activity center with much needed landscaping beautifying the corner.

It’s tough to make any corner on the four lane West Lawrence Avenue shine. But this corner is well on it’s way to anchoring an already high quality neighborhood.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dancing Machine in Lincoln Square

Thursday is live music night in Lincoln Square. We've discovered Ryne likes nothing more than live music.

Check out the moves...

More secret real estate in Ravenswood. This multi-unit courtyard building is located on the 5100 block of North Winchester. It looks like a condo conversion project that has slowed or stopped. It might very well be improvements to the building for higher rents. This I doubt. It looked like a gut rehab job.

Condo conversions, new construction and single family homes have been very successful on this block and in the surrounding area. But, you never know what could go wrong... not all developers are alike. This building project, however, could start right up again and turn out very successful. I need to do some further research.

The north side of the courtyard building looks to be rented and occupied.

Secret Lofts in Ravenswood Chicago

Ravenswood has a pretty diverse housing stock. Once in a while a loft condo will come up for sale in this building located on the East side of North Damen Avenue... between West Lawrence and West Leland. You might miss the Rambler Lofts, even as you drive down Damen regularly.

The Rambler Lofts best attribute is the terrific courtyard and outdoor space. The latest for sale here is an architecturally significant two bedroom, one and one-half bath condo with garage parking for $419,000.

Lunch at Montrose Harbor

I did something I have not been able to do for a long time last Thursday. Between showing appointments, I stopped and ate lunch (take-out) parked at Montrose Harbor.

The weekday provides ample areas from Foster to Montrose to park and watch the lake or the boats in the harbor. In the picture above, I walked down on of the piers a little bit.

Imerial Towers looking over Montrose Harbor. The full amenity condo building has studio, one bedroom and two bedroom units ranging from about $155,000 to over $400,000.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Rooftop View from 88 W Schiller: Chicago's Near North

Super sweet view from the rooftop. We saw a couple corner unit, 900 square feet one bedrooms for around $265,000 or so...negotiable. Great layouts and the corner units with sout and east exposures are really worth the price of admission. Lake and city views.

Condo Shopping: New East Side

Your slice of the lake for $280,000.

Here are a couple nice shots from a balcony at 222 N Columbus, The Park Millennium, a really nice full amenity building at the New East Side. The building is one over north of the Fairmont Hotel, between Randolph and Wacker.

Sit out and watch the boats cruise the Chicago River.
My clients are interested in the building... now that the rumored Treasure Island grocery store is being built.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

New Construction in Lincoln Square: Giddings Square

Here's a follow up to my post about the nearly finished construction at Giddings Square in the Lincoln Square retail district. The development is just to the left in this picture.

The building overlooks Giddings Square to the east. A couple shots from the Thursday night concert.

There is usually a ton of kids for Ryne to run around with... although, he's actually more into the music. It's hilarious. He doesn't take is eyes off the band.
On this evening, there was a traditional German band on tour in the United States. So, plenty of old schools came out to sing in German.

Another Shot of 900-910 N Lake Shore Drive

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Condo Shopping Gold Coast: 900 North Lake Shore Drive

My clients and I were out looking at Gold Coast condos under $300,000. This meant a stop at 900 N Lake Shore Drive, one of the 1955 Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed buildings. Named the Esplanade Apartments, the units do not have "load bearing" walls... which allows owners to re-configure the units to their needs.

According to the MRED/MLS listing service, there are only about 13 listed units for sale out of a total of 524. Prices range from $289K for a large one bedroom we looked at to $1,139,000 for a 2900 sq/ft three bedroom plus den, three bath.
Here's a shot looking west at about 9:00AM last Sunday morning. The lake is to my back. Check out the link above for some interesting photos and a little history of the buildings.

I would love a tour of homes in these buildings in which the Mies enthusiasts (and the style minded) do their best to preserve the intergrity of the design. Lots of clean lines, mixed woods, buit-ins, secionals... steel and glass.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

New Construction in Lincoln Square

The Fountain View development at Giddings's Square in the Lincoln Square neighborhood is shaping up pretty well. The above is a shot of the southeast corner. Larger windows are the stand-out feature for the corner units over the Square.

The project is a big deal and very high profile. One of the pricier per square foot in the area. Giddings Square is packed with people all week through the good weather months... and special events are popular in the winter too. Fountain View has really changed the landscape for this wonderful retail and restaurant pedestrian friendly district. I'm not sure how many locals are happy with the scale and design of the project. It's better than the dumpy, strip-mall-like retail buildings they torn down. But, it's a bit menacing too.

For today's Chicago new construction standards, the development looks pretty good. Definitely a little boring...but the materials and craftsmanship look better than average. However, for a real Square with both old world and youthful appeal... this was another missed opportunity to do something very special, architecturally speaking.

I'll have some updated shots with better context concerning the location in the next day or so.