Fairbanks starts with big base of sales

Developer Centrum Properties hit the 25 percent sold mark during its first weekend of sales at the Fairbanks at CityFront Plaza, a 31-story condo development planned for the 200 block of East Illinois Street, in Streeterville.

It was an auspicious start for the first phase of a mixed-use project set to replace R.M. Chin & Associates’ failed Grand Pier project, which halted a few years back after a string of environmental, contractor and financing problems. Developer Raymond Chin only realized eight stories of his ambitious vision, leaving Centrum with a large parking garage to work into its development.

Centrum has tried to turn that leftover structure into an asset, creating a large private landscaped plaza over a base of residential lofts and parking. Among other things, this configuration allows for “terrace homes,” immediately above the base, with private outdoor gardens. These large units have 1,068 to 1,903 square feet and are priced from the $500s.

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To facilitate its construction over the existing garage, the Fairbanks was designed as a steel frame structure, according to Scott Sarver, of DeStefano & Partners, architects for the new tower.

“It’s a very unusual building because it’s steel,” Sarver said, speaking of the decidedly contemporary design. “There are higher floor-to-floor heights.” Chicago’s residential towers tend to be concrete, but Sarver said steel construction would allow Centrum to build higher, maximize views and create soft curves on the north and south faces of the building.

Centrum bought the site, bounded by Saint Clair Street, Illinois Street, Fairbanks Court and Grand Avenue, in December of 2004, planning roughly 1,000 luxury condos in three phases. Phase II of CityFront Plaza calls for a 65-story tower with condominiums, a boutique hotel and a spa, and phase III will be a 40-story condo building. The entire development should be complete in four or five years, according to Nathalie Tourre, sales manager for the Fairbanks.

The first of those phases, the Fairbanks, has 281 units with prices ranging from the mid-$300s to more than $2 million. The condos have one to three bedrooms, one to three baths and indoor parking spaces priced from about $40,000 to $60,000.

Features include floor-to-ceiling windows, pre-wired media centers, marble tile bathrooms, Kohler and Grohe fixtures, granite countertops and built-in stainless steel appliances. The building will have a 24-hour doorman, a concierge, a garden terrace with an outdoor pool and fitness center, a clubroom with a pool table, a business center, a private theater, a media room and a bar.

The location, however, may be the top draw for Fairbanks’ buyers, according to McLinden, and a new spate of Streeterville highrise developments ranging from the ParkView and 550 N. St. Clair to the Helmut Jahn-designed 600 N. Fairbanks Court seems to prove his point.

“This one is probably the best location of anything out there right now,” McLinden said. “Streeterville has the greatest thing this city has to offer – the lake.”

The Fairbanks at CityFront Plaza, www.CityFrontPlaza.com, is slated to break ground during the first quarter of 2006, and a sales center opened on site, at 240 E. Illinois St., in late June.

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