New programs for in-house art and developers of color, West Loop’s most expensive contract signing, and more

by Juliet Jacques

Program seeks new way to commission art for developments

Last Wednesday, Aspire Residences named Chicago local Canary Garcia as its first artist-in-residence. She’ll live in and create art for the building, which is a 275-unit apartment tower in the South Loop set to open in August.

Local artist Canary Garcia

“At Aspire, we wanted to add an organic layer to the typical process of selecting or commissioning artwork based on our own understanding of the property as the developer. We created the ‘Aspiring Artist’ residency as an opportunity to support a young artist who will be creating pieces for Aspire as she experiences living there and interacts with the surrounding neighborhood,” Todd Bancroft, president and CEO of project developer Draper and Kramer, said in a press release.

Garcia is being commissioned to create several pieces for the building, including a sculpture as the centerpiece of the main lobby. She’ll work in a studio on the first floor where residents can observe her work. “For young artists like myself, it’s often a struggle to find work and a stable place to practice our craft, especially now,” said Garcia. “My residency at Aspire has given me the confidence and opportunity to grow without limitation.”

Local organizations create program to support developers of color

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the Urban Land Institute are teaming up on a new program called Yield Chicago, with the aim to support emerging real estate developers of color and encourage more projects on the West and South sides of Chicago. New developers are paired with veterans from ULI to build networks of shared learning.

“A key way that LISC supports communities is through creating local wealth, and one of the most effective ways to do that is by investing directly in local businesses and entrepreneurs,” Meghan Harte, executive director of LISC Chicago, said in a press release. “We’re thrilled … to invest in local developers of color, who have a deep understanding of their communities and a unique stake in their future.”

The project is funded by JP Morgan Chase and The Pritzker Traubert Foundation. Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently launched the INVEST South/West initiative to encourage development of that area of the city. “Our city’s future rests on all of us working together to marshal our shared resources toward a more inclusive, equitable and just future. This initiative will activate the next generation of talented developers on our South and West Sides, helping them to advance critical projects that will spur further neighborhood investment and support every resident on their drive to success,” Lightfoot said.

New luxury condominium boasts most expensive home in West Loop

A unit in the seven-story luxury condominium building known as 1400 Monroe recently clocked in at the most expensive home under contract in the West Loop at $3.1 million. It’s a 5-bedroom, 5 1/2-bathroom condo with 4,924 square feet of interior space and a 600-square-foot terrace and balcony. Developer JK Equities just started construction in June and the building isn’t expected to be completed until summer 2021.

Apartment building in River West gets a name

Last week, Fifield Cos. announced the name of its new luxury apartment building in River West. “The name Westerly draws inspiration from the building’s location in the quieter, less dense River West neighborhood, which is still close to all the city center has to offer, but far enough away to be a distinctive neighborhood that celebrates both its factory history and a modern, comfortable aesthetic,” Jon Schneider, senior vice president at Fifield Cos said in a press release.

The building will be a mix of studio, 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom apartments from 544 to 1,515 square feet. The 11-story building will include 188 residential units, ground-floor retail and a public park along with a parking garage for residents. Located along Chicago’s bikeway, it also includes bike storage and a bike “kitchen” for repairs. As construction finishes up, it’s set to open this fall.

Lexington Homes opens four townhome models in Warrenville

Lexington Homes announced the opening of a community of 106 townhomes in Warrenville called Lexington Trace this week. There are four decorated models, including three-level rowhomes and two-story townhomes with full basements. The units range from two to four bedrooms and include a garage, with prices starting in the high $290,000s.

Jeff Benach, principal of Lexington Homes, described in a press release how COVID-19 has changed buyers’ priorities. “Now topping buyers’ wish lists are home offices, flex rooms, yard space and simply the element of brand-new construction. With some amount of social distancing and e-learning continuing for the near future, homes with one or more office spaces are in higher demand,” he said, noting that the development includes dedicated offices and lower-level spaces that can be used in such a way.

City Club starts on new Loop building

Earlier this month, City Club Apartments broke ground on a new project in the Loop. The mid-rise, mixed-use building will feature a first-floor restaurant and rooftop park. The building will have studio, 1-bedroom and penthouse apartments and residents are expected to begin moving in March 2021. City Club CEO Jonathan Holtzman also noted that the company is pursuing high-speed internet connectivity and the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes Certification and Wellness Certification.

Move-ins begin at Porte

Lendlease Development, The John Buck Company and Intercontinental announced that move-ins began this week at Porte, a two-tower mixed-use development in the West Loop. Spanning a full block and comprising 586 residences, the building focuses on sustainability, with outdoor green spaces and a rooftop farm partnership with Roof Crop. “Porte fills a niche in the market by offering thoughtfully designed apartments and townhomes for renters in all stages of life,” said Peter Palandjian, chairman and CEO of Intercontinental, in a press release.

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