Point of view

909 Washington highlight W. Loop location with expansive glass

There are those who prefer lake views, but anyone who’s ever stood on a balcony in the West Loop or had dinner on the roof deck of Pegasus, in Greek Town, will acknowledge that the neighborhood’s sweeping skyline vistas are hard to beat. Lake views, of course, disappear at dark, but that’s when West Loop views, created by a stretch of low-rise buildings and the expressway, are most dramatic, a million twinkling lights defining one of the world’s great skylines at what seems an arm’s length.

Terrapin Development clearly had those views in mind when it conceptualized 909 Washington Condominiums, a new construction building planned for the corner of Sangamon and Washington, in the West Loop.

True to Terrapin’s (formerly known as Turnberry Properties) strategy at other developments, the building includes a strong commercial component, 8,500 square feet of retail space in a ground-floor arcade with a glass front. Above this is a two-story plinth of red brick that nods to smaller neighboring buildings and the West Loop’s stock of brick lofts.

And then the views begin.

The seven residential floors above the three-story base feature a contemporary design of finished aluminum and floor-to-ceiling glass that promises views that will be nothing short of breathtaking.

“One of the unique things about the building is that most of the units are floor-to-ceiling glass, so it has a lot of volume and this expansive feeling,” says David Wallach, a principal in Terrapin. “The units are very bright, with finished ceilings but exposed ducts.”

Wallach says the condos have some loft touches but are more refined than the rough-hewn spaces found in converted commercial buildings.

“These are more soft lofts,” Wallach says. “Unlike typical lofts, where the second bedrooms have borrowed light, all of our units have finished bedrooms.”

Condos at 909 Washington, designed by architects Hirsch Associates, also have a higher level of standard finishes than many projects in the neighborhood, according to Wallach.

“We have granite kitchens, marble master baths, stainless steel appliances, fireplaces on all units…” Wallach says. “Our standard finishes are what most developers call upgrades.”

The building, marketed exclusively by Jameson Realty Group, has 110 condos, about one-third of them one-bedrooms, one-third smaller two-bedrooms and one-third larger two-bedrooms. The one-bedroom units have 1.5 baths and most of the two-bedrooms have two baths. Prices range from the $200s to the $400s, and two penthouses are priced around $500,000.

Standard features include private balconies or terraces, fireplaces, oak or ash floors, maple or oak kitchen cabinets, Frigidaire stainless steel appliances, marble floors and surrounds in master baths and ceiling heights of more than nine feet in main living areas.

Hirsch Associates designed 909 Washington with a cutout courtyard beginning on the fourth floor, above 162 parking spaces. This shape allows for a common fourth-floor plaza that will be landscaped with decorative paving, trellises, lighting, benches and planters. A series of rear balconies will overlook the landscaped space.

Wallach says that buyers are impressed by this green space, as well as balconies and views, but they’re also drawn to Terrapin’s approach to commercial space – often an afterthought in residential developments. At 1001 Madison, another Terrapin project finishing up around the corner, the developer was able to lure coveted retailers like Starbucks, Pockets and Blockbuster.

“We expect to get the same caliber of tenants at 909 Washington as we have at 1001 Madison,” Wallach says. “The reason we’re able to attract the A tenants is that unlike many developers, we provide substantial parking for tenants even though the commercial space is fairly small. Buyers love this. Our residents want to be able to come home and rent a movie, get a sandwich and enjoy a cup of coffee without having to walk five blocks.”

Such amenities are increasingly common in the West Loop, where commercial development has started to catch up with the wave of residential building that’s taken place over the last decade. Many of the city’s best restaurants are located on Randolph Street’s restaurant row, while the old Standby of Greek Town, on Halsted, is healthier than ever. New salons, shops and art galleries have been following suit, and at press time, a massive new Dominick’s grocery store had just opened at 1 N. Halsted, on the ground floor of a new highrise.

Terrapin’s new development is not only a part of West Loop growth, Wallach says, it sits in the neighborhood’s best residential location.

“We will be the farthest north and east project in the West Loop,” Wallach says. “The ones that have been most successful have been in that northeast section. We’re a stone’s throw from the Loop proper, Randolph Street, the new Dominick’s, Greek Town…”

Judging by initial reaction and sales at Terrapin’s other West Loop project, 909 Washington seems poised for quick sales. Only 18 condos – one- and two-bedrooms priced from the $200s to about $400,000 – remain for sale at 1001 Madison, where around 30 buyers have moved in. At press time, 909 Washington already was more than 25 percent sold, according to Wallach.

A sales center for 909 Washington is open across the street from the site, at 918 W. Washington. First occupancy is expected in late summer of 2004.

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