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Changing the face of the neighborhood

by Carlo Calma

Condo

(With contributions from Claire Fountas)

What does today’s homebuyer want? Given the choice between more space and a greater variety of neighborhood amenities, many homebuyers are deciding not to choose at all. A pair of Chicagoland neighborhoods are attracting homebuyers who are looking to go bigger and better.

Sauganash

Once a Native American reserve, the North Side’s Sauganash Historic District features a remarkable array of architectural styles and a thriving business community. Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2010, Sauganash offers big-city excitement in a small-town community. Almost 1,500 families make Sauganash their home in an area just 20 minutes from downtown Chicago, bounded by Devon Avenue to the north, the Edens Expressway to the west, Bryn Mawr Avenue to the south and the Sauganash Trail to the east.

Homebuilder K. Hovnanian has created an opportunity for homebuyers to pair suburban amenities with city access by developing the community of Sauganash Glen.

Sauganash Glen consists of 35 new single-family homes with three spacious floors, each of which measures between 3,852 and 4,332 square feet. The homes currently range in price from approximately $799,995 to $858,995.

“To have a community of newly-built single-family homes — not teardown starts or high-rises — is a rare sight to see in Chicago,” says Greg Heinrich, marketing director for K. Hovnanian. “I think it’s a way of living people will really enjoy.”

An assortment of already-completed quick-buy homes are a great option for someone who has sold their home and needs a place to live immediately. Meanwhile, Sauganash Glen’s ready-to-build plans offer customers the chance to customize their home with additional upgrades and unique designs.

“There’s an inventory program in each community, and anyone who hopes to buy a Sauganash Glen home will have the opportunity to visit a design center to plan out how they want the development process to go,” Heinrich says.

In keeping with the theme of community that resonates throughout Sauganash, the company builds homes with plenty of open space and gathering areas. Upon entering a Sauganash Glen home, potential buyers immediately see a spacious kitchen design paired with an open floor plan.

“A lot of it is bringing people back to together in an age where technology is so prevalent in our daily lives,” Heinrich says. “Giving people the chance to make dinner together or simply enjoy each other’s company in a more open space is something that really sets these houses apart.”

But this goal doesn’t only apply to the homes themselves. The community also boasts Sauganash Park as well as easy access to additional outdoor activities. K. Hovnanian hopes these active-lifestyle amenities will promote a stronger community relationship.

Half the inventory for Sauganash Glen has already sold, and soon K. Hovnanian plans to move the model from Sauganash St. to Peterson St. The company hopes to host a grand opening of the new model in September 2017.

Near North Side

The Near North Side is flush with antique stores, art galleries and various other arts and culture opportunities, as well as iconic landmarks like Magnificent Mile and Navy Pier and some of the finest restaurants in the city. Space can be hard to come by in this area, which includes neighborhoods River North and Streeterville. High-rise condominiums have often been the answer to this extreme density.

In the past, homebuyers may have been more willing to sacrifice physical space for closer proximity to downtown and the opportunity to venture out and experience all the excitement it has to offer. But Buzz Ruttenberg, founder of Belgravia Group, has noticed a distinct shift in their attitudes towards condo living.

“What we’ve seen is an increasing trend toward three-bedroom units,” he says. “In the early part of the 21st century, there was a big push for everyone to buy condos that were either studios or one- to two-bedrooms.”

Belgravia Group serves homebuyers in the Chicagoland area who are looking to invest in a luxury condominium, an audience that has shifted in recent years, According to Ruttenberg, the company has seen a “delayed purchasing” by millennials in their 30s who are settling down and are thinking about starting a family.

“A one- or a two-bedroom isn’t the answer. At the same time, we’ve seen a lot of families who have a former home in the suburbs, wanting to move back to the city because of the dynamic energy that exists.”

As a way to answer that trend, Belgravia Group developed the Renelle on the River property, an 18-story, 50-unit luxury condominium building located in the River North neighborhood. It was founded on the belief that customization and personalization need to be a priority for new construction developers in today’s market. “We seem to be at a time where the larger institutional developers deliver products with little to no choices to the buyers,” he says. “We believe that your home is a very personalized statement. Personalization and unique characteristics are what everybody seeks.”

To make homebuyers more comfortable with buying a new-construction home, Belgravia Group recently teamed up with Delhi, India-based SmartVizX to create a virtual reality homebuying experience. The group is utilizing virtual reality (VR) technology to “transport” homebuyers to fully customized model homes at Renelle on the River. The experience immerses homebuyers into a 360-degree model of their customized home via a headset and a system of cameras.

“One thing that hasn’t changed in the 70 years we’ve been developing projects is, when it comes to buying new construction, people want to see and feel something which, in many cases, doesn’t physically exist,” Ruttenberg says. “But now we have found a way to bring them as close to the real thing as possible.”

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