On the Block

De Maria finishing landmark project, starts firm in W. Loop

The Thrush Companies’ Block Y development is more than just another project in a neighborhood rife with new construction that’s increasingly difficult to distinguish. The 255-unit community (no mere euphemism in this case) has been built on a 4.3-acre parcel in the West Loop with a wide mix of townhouses, heavy timber lofts, concrete lofts and new-construction condos, all centered around a lush courtyard of landscaping and running water.

“As a broker, I’ve been out and have seen a lot of properties, and there is no question in my mind that Block Y is the premier development in the West Loop,” says Rick De Maria, of De Maria Properties, LLC. “It has everything a buyer could want: green space, diversity of product type, and it’s a community; you’re not just sitting in one giant building. It’s cutting edge in urban living.”

De Maria, whose new company is selling and marketing Block Y, admittedly may be biased. However, sales numbers seem to support his claims. Of the project’s 255 units, fewer than a dozen remain for sale. Buyers can have units delivered immediately at Block Y – in 30 to 60 days – and Thrush has lowered prices on remaining condos and townhouses to finish off the development, at 1330 W. Monroe.

“Thrush has rolled back to grand opening pricing on the last few units to close out the project,” De Maria says.

Four luxury lofts remain for sale, priced from the $320s to the $390s. The two-bedroom two-bath units have dens, balconies, granite counters, high-end appliances, hardwood floors, marble baths and some Jacuzzi tubs. They range from 1,300 to 1,500 square feet.

About half a dozen townhouses also are left, priced from the $490s to the $640s. They have two to four bedrooms, two to 3.5 baths, two-car attached garages, 2,400 to 2,900 square feet and according to De Maria, every luxury a buyer could want.

“These townhomes really have everything you can imagine – granite, stainless steel, Jacuzzis, 17-foot ceilings in master suites, rooftop decks, woodburning fireplaces, multiple decks…”

And because prices have been lowered significantly, buyers can come into the development with “instant equity,” De Maria says. Several homes have had price tags lowered from $564,000 to the low $500s, and one is on sale for $495,000, about $70,000 below market value, according to De Maria.

The Thrush Companies, led by CEO David Chase, painstakingly assembled the land for Block Y, combining several parcels, the Barrett Bindery, the Bee Bindery and a one-story retail building along Madison. The loft building in the center of the complex was torn down to make way for a courtyard, while other loft space on site was converted.

A brand new mid-rise loft building also was constructed and includes 27,000 square feet of retail space as well as parking and loft-style units.

In addition to the common green space, the condos have oversized balconies. Many of the townhouses also have private yards and multiple decks. Green space, De Maria says, is a top priority at Thrush developments. And as an added perc, buyers at Block Y only have to cross the street to get to Skinner Park.

De Maria moved from New Jersey to Chicago several years ago to manage sales and marketing for the ambitious Block Y development. Soon, he was overseeing sales and marketing for all Thrush projects and now he has struck out on his own with De Maria Properties.

He says he has positioned the company as a highly selective boutique brokerage that will continue to market new construction, such as Block Y, as well as handling resales, a natural outgrowth of that business. He and partner John Schall have a combined 30 years experience in marketing and selling new homes.

“My goal is to be a specialty real estate agency that represents developers bringing new projects to market, handling all of the on-site sales and marketing,” De Maria says. “Developers can outsource all of their sales and marketing needs to us, so they can do what they do best, which is build the product.”

De Maria’s services for developers start with helping them find land, put deals together and analyze the market, right through creating and implementing marketing programs. And as developments sell out, De Maria says, he hopes to keep their buyers as customers, helping them market their homes and buy new ones down the road.

But the company’s catchphrase is “representing only the best,” and De Maria seems more concerned with quality than quantity.

“We are an adviser, not your typical real estate agent,” De Maria says. “We will only represent listings that go through a qualification process and meet certain standards. That’s a benefit for both the buyer and seller because people can call us and know De Maria Properties has the best homes in the West Loop. You hire a real estate agent to help you find your dream home at the least expensive price in the best location. People are busy. They don’t have time to see 50 or 60 properties that aren’t for them.”

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