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Buildings “Back From the Dead”

by Chicago Agent

The new construction boom and the bursting of the housing bubble left more than a few projects abandoned by their developers. But that doesn’t mean these projects are “dead.” A few of them are being brought back to life – so to speak – with a new developer, a new marketing plan and, in some cases, a new vision. We’ve highlighted a few of these “zombie” buildings, and there’s nothing to fear about them:

Tanner Trails (Aurora):
For John Wozniak, president of J. Lawrence Homes, Tanner Trails was an attractive property in terms of its location. “We consider North Aurora to be a very desirable area for buyers,” he said. “The location and amenities in the area make it a very good buy, especially with our new home prices.”

The previous developer had already completed the work on the property, and J. Lawrence owns the remaining 19 lots. But Wozniak says only having 19 lots is creating demand. “The existing homes look great and all of the parks in the development are new,” he said. “We are offering our current line of twostory homes that complement the existing homes in the community, with two ranch offerings, as well.”

Trio (Chicago):
Jeff Prosapio, director of Marquette Real Estate Investments, LLC., says back in 2007 when Trio was being built, his team connected well with the previous owner’s notion and vision for the development. But then the housing market hit a rough spot, as we all know. “Like many owners and developers who had been delivering new units after 2007, the original business plan was stalled, and Trio was in trouble,” Prosapio said. “As the new ownership group, we brought new equity in, stabilized the asset and reset the business plan based on the realities of today’s market.”

Marquette changed a few things with Trio, but not many things. The Loft Condominiums at Trio (the two seven-story mid-rise towers) are completely sold out due to re-pricing, and the remaining loft homes have a
new “cool home automation feature” Prosapio says. “This will allow new
owners to control audio, video, lighting and blinds from an iPad. It’s pretty
cool stuff.” The Loft Condominiums is about 80 percent sold. “We’re are also changing the initial use of the third tower at Trio,” he added. “The 22-story, 100-unit Trio Tower will be a boutique luxury rental building instead of condominium.” Currently this is 75 percent leased, and the last 10 penthouse apartments on the top four floors of the tower in late summer or early fall.

One Evanston (Evanston): Ted Nash, senior broker associate with Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty Living, says the company was attracted to One Evanston – formerly the Winthrop Club – because everyone at the company was confident in their ability to sell the property.

“We were attracted to the fact that it was the premiere building in Evanston,” Nash said. “A lot of people were interested in it before they became concerned about its financial health. When people heard we took it over, they saw it was financially healthy and it was a new, recapitalized building. I think the people who were interested in it previously were still interested, and they were the first to come check it out again. They know it’s an awesome building.”

Jameson had three months worth of work to do – they redid a lot of the finishings in the lobby, halls and entryway and several of the rooms, including the workout room, pool and model units. Right now, the development is complete with the exception of the exterior entryway. “The units were finished for the most part when we took it over, and we worked on redoing areas in a nicer fashion,” Nash said. “We put a
lot of lighting in, redid the artwork and furniture, and did more decorating.

The workout facility only had two machines, so we completely outfitted that, and the pool had worn furniture, so we put in a towel service and new furniture.”

Creekside at Inverness Ridge (Inverness): Location also stood out to Brian
Brunhofer, president of Meritus Homes, when it came to Creekside at Inverness Ridge. The development is completed and open for sales (Meritus bought 27 of the development’s remaining homes), and the Village of
Inverness, a “highly desirable” area of the northwest suburbs, has an established community association in place. “It’s an opportunity to offer a quality product at a great value,” Brunhofer said. “All the community infrastructure is installed, and all landscaping and open space preservation has been completed. From a product perspective, we are offering similar plans to what has previously been built, including ranch and two-story plans.” The land was bought by a group of real estate investors directly from the builder about 18 months ago, Brunhofer added. Meritus Homes has an option agreement with the investors to buy the lots on an option takedown program. “As we have prepared to open our phase of the property, we did spend lots of time reviewing the interior specifications of the home and ensured that we are meeting the needs of today’s buyers with our standard features,” he said. These standard features include granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and gourmet
kitchen packages.

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