Monday, December 29, 2014

More Movies in the Park planned for Winnemac Park in Ravenswood

The Friends of Winnemac Park board is working to bring more of the popular Movies in the Parks to Winnemac Park in the Ravenswood neighborhood for summer 2015.  The board has tentatively secured funding for additional screenings in addition to the CPD allocated movie night.  The added events will give more families a chance to enjoy a night out in the park!  Official dates to be determined.

Image Chicago Park District

Friends of Winnemac Park members and supporters identified Movies in the Parks as an excellent and accessible way to offer more events for the greatest amount of park users.  Other current efforts at monthly meetings include: better promotion of programs to the community at large and hosting a large cycling event starting/ending at Winnemac Park (similar to the Ravenswood Run 5K).

Please contact to volunteer, take on a Board leadership position and/or support programing and events at Winnemac Park. It's a great way to make connections and preserve a very special neighborhood asset. The next monthly meeting is Tuesday January 20th, 6PM at Dolce Casa Cafe 4947 N Damen Avenue.

Photo of Winnemac Park, Eric Rojas, Broker, Kale Realty
As some of you know I have been involved in volunteering at Winnemac Park and St. Matthias School in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Lincoln Square among other activities.  The area around Winnemac Park is a great place to live. If you have time of resources to give to Winnemac Park, please contact me! We have clean-up days, park programming, communications, monthly meetings and more that need community support.

Stan's Donuts opens in Streeterville, I get fat

The second Chicago Stan's Donuts and Coffee opened in 259 East Erie, Chicago IL 60611 in Streeterville circa November. Photo Eric Rojas, Broker, Kale Realty
I've pretty much "checked out" over the last two weeks for anything healthy or exercise related. That made stumbling on the Streeterville Stan's Donuts and Coffee double awesome.  I could not help but to stop in last Friday on my way to meet my wife for lunch near Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and the Northwestern Medical campus.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The List: Top 5 single family home sales in 2014 for Lincoln Square, Chicago

The story in 2014 for Lincoln Square community area home sales was strong demand, low inventory.  We may have seen a record sales price for a new construction home on a 37' x 125 lot size at $2,042,408.  As of December 26th, 94 single family homes closed with a median price of $565,000.  123 homes closed for a median price of about $575,000 in 2013.

  Top 5 Lincoln Square single family home sales in 2014

2149 W Wilson, Chicago IL 60625 pictured above while under construction.  The house cracked the 2014 Top 5 sales list at $1,640,000 (Photo Eric Rojas, Broker, Kale Realty)

1) 2168 W Windsor, Chicago IL 60625 at $2,042,408 (possible record for 37' x 125' lot)

2) 2015 W Giddings, Chicago IL 60625 at $1,945,000

3) 2020 W Leland, Chicago IL 60625 at $1,850,000

4) 2157 W Giddings, Chicago IL at $1,750,000

5) 2149 W Wilson, Chicago IL 60625 at $1,640,000

All Top 5 homes were new construction and built on 37' wide x 125' long lots (standard lots are 25' x 125').  2030 W Leland is currently PENDING closing asking $1,649,000 and could crack the Top 5 if closed over $1,640,000 by year's end.  The Top 3 sold houses were developed by Landrosh Development, LLC Lincoln Square's most prolific new house builder. 

15 Lincoln Square homes sold over $1,000,000 thus far in 2014.  In 2013, 15 homes sold over $1,000,000 as well over the same period.

Curious new construction homes still remain unfinished on Edgebrook block

6232 N Lenox, Chicago IL 60646. Two homes sit unfinished since 2008. Photo Eric Rojas, Broker, Kale Realty

I noticed these two new construction homes still sitting unfinished on the 6200 block of North Lenox in Edgebrook since 2008. The several blocks of this southeast Edgebrook location is better known for unique original build homes from the 1920s through the 1960s. New construction happens but rarely side by side like this. The last sale on the lot was in 2005 for $605,000.

The only listing for the homes on the MLS appeared for 120 days in 2008 as 6232 N Lenox, Chicago IL 60646 asking 749,900.  Property records show a lis pending mechanics lien on the property.  These drawn out situations are always a shame.  We need housing (especially relatively affordable housing) to keep city neighborhoods vibrant.   

If anyone has photos of the original property that sat on the lots please send them to and I'll update the post.

New construction Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago takes shape at McClurg and Ontario in Streeterville

The new facility for Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago takes shape at 630 N McClurg Street, Chicago IL 60611 (photos Eric Rojas, Broker, Kale Realty)
I'm working this morning from Streeterville at my regular Starbucks at 401 East Ontario. The new construction Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago is taking shape.  The lot,  home to a 1924 building once occupied by CBS, had been vacant since 2009.

The new building sits on the opposite northwest corner of my Starbucks perch and blocks my view of Lurie Children's Hospital (where my wife works).  Minor consideration.  The RIC bought the lot back in 2009 when I imagine they got a pretty good deal.  Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago will remain close and connected to the top medical hub with Northwestern University medical campus, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital and  various associated medical offices.

Large commercial and residential new construction from Streeterville to South Loop has been booming throughout 2014.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas Chicago

In Chicago Santa Claus uses public transportation to deliver presents. If you are naughty you have to take the Red Line from Addison after a Cub's game.

There goes the neighborhood North Center edition: Chicago Joe's may be closing

I read on Curbed Chicago that the long North Center staple Chicago Joe's with the high profile sign at 2250 West Irving Park Road, Chicago IL 60618 may be closing.  The property may be re-developed.

Chicago Joe's at 2250 West Irving Park Road in North Center.  Image created from Google Maps

I meet my long time contractor and business partner here for lunch all the time.  The guy is a real "Chicago Joe", old school property owner.  We sit down for lunch, he orders the grilled salmon with vegetables and hands me the bill for our last project.

I've always enjoyed my lunches sans the invoice.

Photo update: Lycee Francais de Chicago new Ravenswood building progress

The Lycée Français de Chicago in Ravenswood is coming along.  I shot this photo a couple weeks ago at 1929 West Wilson, Chicago IL 60640 showing the building skeleton enclosed.  The school is scheduled to be open for the fall 2015 school year. 

Click here for some past photo posts.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Small Business Improvement Fund helps Chicago entrepreneurs fill empty retail space

Friends, clients and neighbors often share their frustration with empty retail storefronts in otherwise prospering neighborhoods.

The concern around empty retail storefronts and dilapidated mixed use buildings lining city corridors is a reoccurring theme. Many friends, neighbors and clients bring up "this or that" empty commercial space in conversation. There are many reasons for vacant stores that range from absent or delinquent building owners to simple market realities. In some cases a space may be available to a business but is in bad physical shape.

However some savvy Chicago business owners are identifying resources to acquire and improve their brick and mortar home.   The Small Business Improvement Fund by non-profit SomerCor is a unique small business loan that may help your business improve a space to fit your needs. The SBIF was recently brought to my attention when I asked local officials about some vacant retail. In the course of our daily real estate business we discover a lot of local funding opportunities for both business and neighborhood initiatives. 


Lincoln Square re-sale shop on Western Avenue closes doors, property originally sold 10 years ago

The one and two story retail up and down North Western Avenue from North Center through Lincoln Square is slowly being developed one by one (all photos Eric Rojas, Broker, Kale Realty).
Patty Wetli of DNAinfo did a nice write up on the Penn-Dutchman antique store at 4912 N Western, Chicago IL 60625.  I walked by the property several times over the last few weeks and observed some crowds in and out of the store for it's final days. 

The owner of the antique store and property had sold the entire two lot property in 2005 for $667,500.  The two unique lots at 4881 North Lincoln Avenue and 4912 North Western Ave run contiguous back to back for a combined 25'x190'.  However, the store remained until this month.

The 4881 N Lincoln Avenue Chicago IL 60625
Since then the property has been listed for sale in 2010 for $2,500,000 (!) then reduced to about $1,200,000 before going off the market in 2012.  In 2013 the mixed use property was listed for sale at $305,000 as a short sale.  It took a contract but the deal never went through according to MLS records.  I don't see any record of a sale since then.

The storefront at 4912 N Western, Chicago, IL 60625

Nevertheless, the 47th Ward Alderman's office has indicated the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative will move there and has qualified for the Small Business Improvement Fund.  The property will be considered in the 40th Ward with the new ward mapping taking affect.  It's a very high profile busy location with unique access to both North Lincoln and North Western.   

This gateway to the "bend" at Lincoln should be ripe for development considering the immense popularity and expensive real estate of Lincoln Square.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Quirky Edgewater drinking hole on Ravenswood now new condos

Remember the Ravenswood Pub? In leaner and looser years I could be found there with some friends playing pool, throwing darts and eating free Sloppy Joes during Sunday football in the VFW style bar.
The old Ravenswood Pub located at 5455 N Ravenswood Avenue Chicago, IL 60640 in Edgewater closed in 2012. Condos rise on the property.  There goes the neighborhood!
I took this photo above for the many mates who have sat around the circle bar at Ravenswood Pub in the late 90s and early 2000s.  The old one story frame structure was torn down making way for the ubiquitous red brick six unit condo building currently being built.  I don't see a listing for the homes on or off the MLS as of yet.  However, the "West Andersonville" location is very popular and new condos here will be in demand.

The Ravenswood Pub, image from Google Maps

The property adjacent to the south looks poised to be "Phase II" of the development.  About 9 attached units have sold from 5200 North Ravenswood to 5600 North Ravenswood over the last two years with a median price of only $250,000. However, all the units were smaller, older re-sale units.  The new construction two beds/ two baths should sell over the $400,000 range.

New construction condos make big street impact on North Damen in Ravenswood

Newly completed condo buildings on the 4800 block of North Damen complete a contiguous street wall. Photo Eric Rojas, Broker, Kale Realty
Although I pass this stretch of Damen several times a week I finally stopped and really took a good look at the street impact of the nearly completed new construction.  The 4800 block of North Damen was once home to sprawling dilapidated one story strip retail and then 6 vacant over-sized City lots.  A series of larger condo construction started along the block around the early 2000s including the CVS/ condo building at Lawrence and Damen completed in 2005

4835-4845 N Damen condos shown above are the most recent large development completed on the block. The condos filled in a major vacant eye sore in what's been a booming location for property values and construction.

The six lots sat vacant for roughly 7 years in the otherwise established neighborhood.

Directly across the street two new construction three unit condo buildings (4834 - 4836 North Damen) have also been built.  The first sold out pre-construction.  Unit 2 (three bedrooms, two baths) at 4836 North Damen, Chicago IL 60625 is listed for sale at $499,900 on the MLS.  The identical Unit 2 at 4834 North Damen Chicago IL 606025 was sold in July at $500,763.

4834 - 4836 N Damen development (photo Eric Rojas, Broker, Kale Realty).

Monday, December 15, 2014

First time buyer: Meeting HUD consultant for FHA 203k loans

Our clients are interested in purchasing a house that needs renovations.  They'd like to use an FHA 203k renovation loan and sought the services of a 203k consultant.

Sorry, this has got to go!
 Last week we met at the prospective house with Dominic Valenti an FHA HUD Consultant & 203k certified contractor.  The consultant felt the scope of the renovation needed and the construction budget the buyers could borrow using the FHA 203k loan were compatible. He helps the client manage the process of working with a certified contractor and the FHA lender (preparing the required documentation to each party and process involved).

 My role was to basically gauge what renovations would make sense for this particular market considering their budget.  The first time home buyers have a very realistic view of what would be in store should they move ahead with a purchasing the home using a 203k renovation loan.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Under Contract! Huge Ravenswood three bedrooms duplex

Our latest listing has gone under contract in less than a week.  1949 W Foster #1, Chicago IL 60640 is a short-sale that had been on the market for some time.  Two buyers backed out previously for reasons no fault of the sellers or lender.  However, the unit needed work to secure a solid motivated buyer who would close this deal.

Professionally painted! Bright living and dining spaces on the main floor.
 The home was in over-all good condition but needed a paint job to really show well. The condo had multiple colors that were painted many years ago.  There were some minor repair patches and dings left behind.  We chose a modern off-white color to be painted throughout the entire home.  The one contiguous color brightened the home and makes it seem even more spacious.  It looks new and fresh rather than tired and distressed.

A huge family room offers very flexible living space.
The kitchen had a dark color previously that made it look more separated from the living areas.  We used the same light color to open up the space and get better flow to the living room.
We this was a solid market price purchase offer with a buyer able to close the deal.  The home purchase offer was executed by the sellers and is now with the seller's lender.  The seller's attorney and the lender now have to negotiate the final terms if a sale will happen.

If you may need to short sell your house or looking to buy a home please contact us.  We can evaluate the situation and help you move forward with a plan.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Nothing to see in West Loop with skimpy holiday inventory

Photo in the West Loop, Eric Rojas, Broker, Kale Realty
We have a first time buyer client who wants to jump on a great place in the heart of West Loop  priced up to $500,000. Outdoor space is key.  A couple sharp units came on and sold quickly over the past couple months that had extraordinary terraces. For example, 1260 W Washington #701, Chicago IL 60607 just went under contract. We need something like that!

Our client wants to stay in the hot, hot area of Lake Street to 290 (furthest south) and 90/94 to North Ashland on the west. Map generated by Eric Rojas, Kale Realty using
 These quick sales lit a fire under our client.  However there is ridiculously low inventory for two-three bedrooms condos with parking from $400,000 to $525,000 at the moment.  Only four units are for sale that fit this pretty broad criteria! Non have outdoor space greater than a fairly standard 5x12 balcony. Eight units are currently under contract in these boundaries. 

Even though inventory is low a good place can hit the market at any time. After a little market education our client is now better prepared to move quickly.

Seen in Edgebrook: You've got mail!

Sustainable mailbox. Reuse as shopping tote.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Forest Glen single home sales: Steady rise of median price since 2010

Homes in the Edgebrook neighborhood of greater Forest Glen (All photos Eric Rojas, Broker, Kale Realty).
Despite the December holiday season in full swing real estate activity forges ahead.  We have been working with another client in the greater Forest Glen community area.  They'd like to buy a house in the Edgebrook or Sauganash neighborhoods of Forest Glen.

The Edgebrook and Sauganash neighborhoods are serviced by two desirable name sake elementary schools; Edgebrook Elementary and Sauganash Elementary. Wildwood Elementary is another well rated and popular school that services the southwest area of Forest Glen.

 Forest Glen single family home sales January 1st to December 10th, 2014

203 homes have sold in Forest Glen by December 10th in 2014. Median price for a house is about $407,500. Unit sales for houses area are off last year's 248 units sold same period 2013.  However, median price ticked up slightly.  This mirrors many Chicago neighborhoods that showed tighter inventory and steady or increased median prices.

The lowest sold house is 5034 W Carmen, Chicago 60630 for $156,100 cash in a foreclosure sale. The small frame home may be a tear down or complete gut rehab.  The house is located in a small pocket of Forest Glen near West Foster and North Cicero close to the Jefferson Park area.

The highest sale this  year is 6141 N Lemont, Chicago 60646 for $915,000 in the Sauganash neighborhood. The large ranch home on a huge 125'x124' lot was purchased by Misericordia Home.

Homes in the Sauganash neighborhood of greater Forest Glen
Same period single family home sales 2009-2014
2014   203 homes sold with a median price $407,500
2013   248 homes sold with a median price $403,000
2012   177 homes sold with a median price $385,000
2011   137 homes sold with a median price $350,000
2010   131 homes sold with a median price $377,000 (Federal First Time Buyer stimulus package helped higher unit sales and higher median prices)
2009   128 homes sold with a median price $397,000

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

What's up with the Smart Home at Museum of Science and Industry?

I snapped this photo of the former Smart Home exhibit last week at the Museum of Science and Industry 5700 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60637 (all photos Eric Rojas, Broker at Kale Realty)
The Smart Home exhibit (pictured above) at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago was a popular attraction from roughly May 2008 to January 2013.  It has been closed since. After taking this photo I wondered if the exhibit will open again and what might happen to the house otherwise.

I received an email response from the Museum stating there are "no current plans to reactivate the Smart Home exhibit".  We'll wait and see the fate of the Smart Home.  In the meantime here's an interesting story on the Smart Home written in 2012 from Lake Shore Magazine.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Under contract! Buyer client nabs Sauganash split-level asking $365,000

Cute as a button split level at 5846 N Kingsdale offers large kitchen, three bedrooms up and a finished lower level family room with walk-out to the yard.
Happy Holidays indeed!

I wrote a couple weeks ago on searching for homes in Sauganash and recent sales numbers.  Our client made a quick move on a nice maintained split level at 5846 N Kingsdale, Chicago IL 60646 in the Sauganash neighborhood of greater Forest Glen. The home was clean, well decorated and showed great.  The property seller had just lowered the price to the very reasonable $365,000. This was an attractive price range for a move-in quality three bedroom home on a picturesque Sauganash block.

Sauganash neighborhood map generated by
The winding wooded streets offer great aesthetic in the long popular neighborhood. The Sauganash lifestyle is relaxed.  The neighbors ban together with the Sauganash Community Association and enjoys nature at parks and the Sauganash Trail.  A Whole Foods Market serves the neighborhood at 6020 N Cicero, Chicago IL 60646.
Parents enjoy a desirable, well rated neighborhood school Sauganash Elementary.
Great block!
The home purchase is out of physical inspection and attorney review.  We await closing in the New Year.  Congrats to our buyer client for a great find!  If you are looking or selling a home on the North and Northwest sides call us!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Video! Huge Ravenswood, Lincoln Square duplex condo offered as short-sale $299,900

Take our video walk-through of our new listing at 1949 W Foster #1 in Ravenswood. The large three bedrooms, two baths home has just been painted and shows great. Parking, interior storage, laundry room, central air/ heat, flexible floor plan and nice deck. The home is priced low for a short-sale at $299,900.

Bright living and dining combo with good sized deck off the living space.
Kitchen with eat-in or island area.  Breakfast bar opens to living room.  Additional outdoor space is off the kitchen.
Modern kitchen
Fantastic lower level with bedroom, family room, laundry room, office or play area and interior storage room.
Lower bedroom with organized closet.
Bright bedrooms

Nice front deck off the living area.
The condo is located in the booming Ravenswood neighborhood of Lincoln Square.  It's a short four block walk to the heart of awesome Andersonville dining and shopping.  The home sits between two major grocery stores including the uber-popular new Mariano's and LA Fitness development.

Easy walk to the hottest Andersonville dining like Hop Leaf
My wife and I (and now our family) have now lived in this location for 10 years.  Housing here is a great value. There is a ridiculous amount of things to do for all ages. Shopping, dining, parking, groceries, public transportation, great parks and schools are all convenient.  

1949 W Foster #1 is huge finished space in this neighborhood for the money.  The seller has lender approval for short sale. Response times are good for solid offers.

Storage and laundry rooms!

Friday, December 05, 2014

Friends of Winnemac Park in Ravenswood: Next meeting Tuesday December 16th, 6:00pm

Friends of Winnemac Park Advisory Meeting 
Tuesday December 16th, 6:00pm
Please RSVP to or call Eric 773-510-1597
*Festive drinks served*
(Sponsored by Eric Rojas, Broker, Kale Realty and Dolce Casa Cafe)

Meet with Park Supervisor Lisa Ragucci and active neighbors at this monthly meeting every third Tuesday of the month. Discuss Winnemac Park programs, pressing issues and needed improvements. Participate in improving and advocating for the park throughout the year.

Check out a video produced about our Annual "Clean and Green" held in April

*We are looking for Board Members to help advise and support the park district supervisor, carry out a few annual events and advocate for improvements. New Board elections will be announced for early next year.  Please nominate yourself for Board President, Vice-President, Secretary or Treasurer at or at the monthly meeting.

Join neighbors helping to keep Winnemac Park awesome and have fun doing it!


Tuesday, December 02, 2014

One of a Kind Show and Sale at Merchandise Mart this week!

Check out the artisan goods at Merchandise Mart this week. Photo Bob DePalma, Broker, Kale Realty

Christmas and the Holidays means many annual shows and events.  One of Bob's favorites is this week.  One of a Kind Show and Sale at the Merchandise Mart 222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago, IL 60654 runs Thursday December 4th through Sunday December 7th this week.

Additionally, while you're at the Mart, check out all the home improvement and design stores on floors 1 and to the public.  We see good deals this time of year.