By Ginger Downs, RCE, CAE, IOM
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Association of Realtors
We are ever mindful of the difficulties our current economic situation presents with regards to financing new construction, and the challenges facing our industry today. Additionally, a downturn in the housing market has caused an increase in the inventory of residential properties in Chicago. With that in mind, some real estate professionals see new construction as a source of concern: why create more inventory when homeowners are struggling to sell what’s already there?
The truth of the matter is that new construction is good for our business and great for Chicago, and plays an essential role in keeping our city competitive.
To better understand this, we must look at the big picture. Chicago has been thrust onto the global stage, with landmark, world-renowned properties, such as the Trump Hotel & Tower, and the potential of hosting the 2016 Olympic Games. State Street is undergoing a face-lift that will attract new, higher-end retail businesses while retaining stores and restaurants that accommodate all levels of income. Michigan Avenue continues to be a bustling tourist attraction and a beacon of luxury living, while the South Loop is a haven for luxury high-rise condominiums.
New construction keeps Chicago competitive in the world marketplace. Real estate investors are drawn to modern projects that offer contemporary appeal and the promise of longevity.
Eco-conscious homebuyers are attracted to new construction that utilizes new “green” building techniques, such as green roofs and energy-efficient appliances. High-income buyers seek amenities that are simply not possible in Chicago’s more historic properties. For example, the Chicago bungalow has been a popular option for small families in our city since the early 20th century. Bungalows offer charm, character and a cozy, cottage feel. However, bungalows do not offer a tremendous amount of space. For some families, the size may be just right. For others with plasma televisions, large dining room tables and California King beds, a bungalow would seem cramped. Space is no longer just an amenity, it’s a necessity. Some bungalows can be renovated (in accordance with design guidelines established by the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association), but even the best renovation cannot significantly increase the square footage.
As Realtors, we do not prefer one building style over another. We simply recognize that for every individual who dreams of home ownership, there is a dream home. And those preferences are not set in stone. A growing family may want to move out of their once-beloved city brownstone into a larger house in St. Charles or Elgin. A senior may want to move from a walk-up to a building equipped with elevators. Through new construction, we are able to continuously offer a variety of housing options to Chicagoans. As for real estate investors, if the choice they want is not available in Chicago, they will not hesitate to take their money elsewhere. New construction keeps us on the cutting edge. In Chicago, there is always something spectacular just around the corner; we must continue to outdo ourselves to remain competitive.
Landmark new construction has positive effects on our tourism industry as well. People from around the world will want to see our breathtaking, ever-evolving skyline firsthand. Since the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Chicago’s ability to adapt to modern needs while preserving its unique history has kept our city a wonderful place to live, work and play.
THE CHICAGO ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (CAR), “THE VOICE FOR REAL ESTATE IN CHICAGO” SINCE 1883, REPRESENTS THE BUSINESS INTERESTS OF MORE THAN 16,000 REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS IN CHICAGOLAND. CAR IS LED BY A VOLUNTARY BOARD OF DIRECTORS, ELECTED BY THE MEMBERSHIP, WHO WORKS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH A PROFESSIONAL ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF.
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