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California Joint Venture Takes Over New England Builders’ Lake Bluff Development

by Chicago Agent

California thinks they can do it better; a California developer is buying a failed 47-acre residential development in Lake Bluff about seven months after taking over seven suburban projects started by now-defunct Kimball Hill Inc.

According to Crain’s, Irvine, Calif.-based SunCal and its partner, El Segundo, Calif.-based Roanoke Group, are buying the unfinished north suburban project from its developer, Skokie-based New England Builders Inc., in a so-called short sale, or for less than the outstanding debt on the property, Casey Tischer, vice-president of land acquisitions for SunCal, told Crain’s.

Image by © FRANK POLICH/Reuters/Corbis

SunCal has signed an agreement to acquire Stonebridge of Lake Bluff, a luxury development aimed at buyers 55 and older that ran into trouble as the housing market crashed. Bank of America filed a $32.5-million foreclosure suit against the project last July.

Tischer declined to disclose the price and New England Builders executive did not return a phone call.

New England Builders completed just six homes on the property at 136 Green Bay Road: four model units and two homes built on spec without buyers in advance. SunCal and Roanoke plan to sell and build the remaining 71 units in the development, the former estate of rail magnate William V. Kelley, who bought the property in 1914. The joint venture also plans to convert the manor and carriage house on the property into condos.

The joint venture hasn’t set prices on the homes, which originally ran for about $1 million to $1.5 million. Tischer told Crain’s that prices on comparable homes in Lake Bluff have fallen anywhere from 20 percent to 30 percent since the market peak.

It is the second major acquisition in Chicago for SunCal and Roanoke, who teamed up last July to acquire 552 lots in seven projects started by Kimball Hill, the Rolling Meadows homebuilder that said it would liquidate its holdings after filing for Chapter 11 protection in 2008.

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