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roeder reports

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

Updated: October 25, 2011 12:30AM



City officials Tuesday approved terms of a development deal that calls for the reuse of a landmark 81-year-old building on the Near West Side.

The old Viceroy Hotel at 1519 W. Warren has been vacant since 2007, and before that, it had slid into decline as a transient hotel. But it’s an unusual building, with Art Deco ornaments and colored terra cotta. Highly visible for its location opposite Union Park, the six-story building has a “vivid and distinctive appearance,” in the words of a city report that led to its landmark designation a year ago.

Heartland Housing Inc., in a partnership with First Baptist Congregational Church, will convert the building into 89 studio apartments with supportive services for low-income renters. Heartland is known for quality housing projects around the Midwest.

Terms as approved by the Community Development Commission call for the partnership to get the city-owned property for $1, plus a further subsidy of $3.88 million in tax-increment financing. The subsidies account for about 25 percent of the project’s costs. Michael Goldberg, Heartland’s executive director, said the city’s gift of the property helps the owners qualify for affordable housing tax credits.

Work on the site should begin in the fall and construction should take 14 months, Goldberg said.

Two months ago, his group got the tentative nod for a redevelopment of the old Town Hall District police station at 3600 N. Halsted. It would be converted into housing for seniors, with gays expected to be a primary market.

HOSPITAL SITE ON HOLD: Serious bargaining is under way between Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) and the developers of the old Lincoln Park Hospital property. Smith had proposed blocking the project, which was approved just before she took office in the spring, by rezoning the property. The rezoning was due for a committee hearing Tuesday, but Smith had the matter deferred pending give-and-take with developers.

“We’re definitely talking,” Smith said. The flash point with many residents is a grocery that Sandz Development Co. wants at the southeast corner of Lincoln and Webster.

PRAIRIE PRODUCTS: The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust opens a ShopWright gift store July 21 in, appropriately enough, the Rookery at 209 S. La Salle. The Rookery is a Burnham & Root-designed landmark that includes Wright’s touches in a lobby renovation of more than 100 years ago. ShopWright benefits the trust and offers goods that recall the master’s work.

CLASS CONSCIOUS: There’s an active buyer for old office buildings downtown, known as Class C properties. Farbman Group, based in Southfield, Mich., has made three such purchases in the last year. The most recent deal is for the 200,000-square-foot building at 205 W. Randolph for a reported $13 million.

Andy Gutman, Farbman’s chief financial officer, said the building is well-leased to a smorgasbord of small firms. There’s also a Dunkin Donuts in the ground-floor retail. “We like these Class C properties. There’s a demand for them and they have a lot of charm,” Gutman said.

The company also owns 216 W. Jackson and 79 W. Monroe. The latter is better known as the old Weather Bell building.

CHA PLANS: The Chicago Housing Authority said it has long-term plans to build two buildings at 131st and Ellis to serve the Altgeld Gardens project. The plans were contained in a zoning application filed with the city, but a spokeswoman emphasized the planning is at an early stage and the agency has yet to identify funds for the work. What’s contemplated are a 31,000-square-foot child-care center and 37,000 square feet for offices and community use.

DOING THE DEALS: Liberty Property Trust spent about $60 million to buy two buildings totaling 1.2 million square feet in the CenterPoint Intermodal Center in Elwood. Mirvac sold the warehouse and distribution centers, which are 36 percent leased. . . . Missner Group said it is completing a 60,000-square-foot building for Greenwood Associates Inc. at 6280 W. Howard in Niles. Greenwood processes fruit juice concentrates. . . . Represented by Paine/Wetzel Oncor International, Trigon International bought a 75,000-square-foot industrial building at 4000 Sussex Ave., Aurora, from Duke Realty Corp. The manufacturer of machined components is moving from Bolingbrook. . . . General Electric Railcar Services Corp. has gone from being a subtenant to a direct tenant at Tishman Speyer’s 161 N. Clark and signed a lease for 61,000 square feet. . . . Green Spirit, purveyor of raw food and classes for preparing healthy meals, opens Thursday on the city’s north end at 7551 N. Ridge.



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