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Wolf Point delay could be costly

A ground-level look Wolf Point proposal

A ground-level look at the Wolf Point proposal

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Updated: January 13, 2013 11:12AM

The three-tower Wolf Point project, a $1 billion proposal backed by the Kennedy family, has been having a rough go of it lately. Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), delayed a planned hearing on the project after being surprised by last-minute details in the developers’ zoning application to the city that didn’t reflect promises made to neighbors.

Reilly ordered more community review and deferred city action until at least early 2013. The delay could be consequential.

Sources said Wolf Point owner Christopher Kennedy, working with partners that include Hines Interests LP, wanted city approval in 2012. They said that starting Jan. 1, the city is expected to abide by new international building standards emphasizing sustainability, especially in residential buildings. The first phase of the Wolf Point project at Orleans and the Chicago River would contain apartments.

“It will add millions of dollars to the cost and change drastically the scope of the project,” one expert said. The source said the developers are still calculating the impact and won’t know “until they produce engineered drawings.”

The changes are said to require upgrades in basic materials, insulation and in systems such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city’s Buildings Department, said new code requirements are due Jan. 1. The city needs time to train personnel and upgrade computers, so they are unlikely to be in place until spring, he said, when it will submit its plans to the state Legislature for enactment.

“In terms of the Wolf Point developers, they have some time yet,” he said. Writing building codes involves coordination with the state.

One requirement of the new codes would be that a new high-rise add a “green feature,” such as solar panels, wind turbines or energy efficient lighting, McCaffrey said.

Could all this make investors in Wolf Point rethink their involvement?

Revision of the code “has nothing to do with our decisions about this project,” said Bill Griffin, a spokesman for the developers. Greg Van Schaack, senior vice president at Hines, said the project won’t be hurt by any new requirements.

DOWNTOWN SALES: Two premier assets downtown have changed hands.

One is the Helmut Jahn-designed 40-story tower at 1 S. Wacker, purchased for $221 million by Harbor Group International LLC, which had backing from Clal Insurance Co. of Israel. The seller was TIAA-CREF. Its 1.2 million square feet are 80 percent leased and the buyer plans renovations. Eastdil Secured represented the seller.

The 1-million-square-foot building at 231 S. La Salle, one of the defining structures of the financial district, sold for $97 million to Berkeley Properties. Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP marketed the building for sellers Gramercy Capital Group and Garrison Investment Group.

Opened in 1924 as Illinois Merchants Bank, 231 S. La Salle became the home of the ill-fated Continental Bank and for years has been a flagship for Bank of America. It is more than 96 percent leased.

WORKING CLASS: Drive up to swank Lake Forest and you can see an example of work force housing long before that term came into vogue. It’s the northern suburb’s West Park neighborhood of about 130 homes, mostly built before the 1930s and intended as homes for the cooks and gardeners for the nearby mansions.

This district, bounded roughly by Green Bay Road, Westminster Avenue, Oakwood Avenue and Atteridge Road, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, which administers the national registry in this state, cited the district’s well-preserved architecture and overall plan by Howard Van Doren Shaw.

Registry listing puts no obligations on the homeowners but allows for financial incentives for restoration.

GOING UP: As a result of a Monday vote by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn will build a seven-story tower for patients northwest of 95th and Kostner. Construction is due to start early next year and be finished in the fall of 2016. The $300 million project will include a parking garage.

DOING THE DEALS: Hannah’s Bretzel, the so-called “uber sandwich makers” with four locations downtown, is opening its fifth — at 555 W. Monroe. It has leased 3,000 square feet and plans to be open in March. . . . Steadfast Income REIT Inc., based in Irvine, Calif., bought two suburban apartment complexes for a combined $37 million. It now owns the 200-unit Arrowhead Apartments in Palatine and the 216-unit Moorings Apartment in Roselle. . . . Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP arranged financing for 230 W. Monroe, a 623,000-square-foot office building sold earlier this year to Lincoln Property Co. and partners for $93 million.

David Roeder reports on real estate at 6:22 p.m. Thursdays on WBBM-AM (780) and WBBM-FM (105.9). The reports are repeated at 10:22 p.m. Thursday and 7:22 a.m. Sunday.

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