A Grand old time

The Grand on Grand courts luxury in River North

The Grand on Grand might just sound like a memorable marketing slogan, but the catchy moniker for the highrise planned at 200 W. Grand Ave. is turning out to be perhaps more apropos than anyone would have guessed.

One buyer recently purchased all of the 22nd floor for a unit of around 6,000 square feet, another buyer bought all of the 24th floor and at press time, someone was considering buying the entire 27th floor, the top one in the building.

“We’re flexible on the penthouses to meet the needs of buyers who want this sort of space, and we’re doing some custom units,” says Mark Sutherland, who is partners with Alex Pearsall in Sutherland Pearsall Development Corp., developer of the Grand on Grand, www.grandongrand.com. “We just recently have had a rush of people looking at the more expensive units.”

As signs of an economic recovery keep popping up, sales have been building steadily at the new 27-story highrise planned for River North. Sutherland says that more than half of the building’s 111 units have been sold, with construction scheduled to start in June or July.

What has brought buyers to the project?

Design certainly has been a factor, according to Sutherland. Architects Loewenberg Associates took a modern approach, heavy on glass and steel, with floor-to-ceiling windows and clean lines.

At the same time, there is a warm, traditional feel about the Grand on Grand, which has clear art deco influences. The emphasis is on verticality, with defined vertical bands running up the length of the building. This is a highrise that celebrates its height. It also has, in keeping with the Chicago School, a clear base, shaft and cap. The fa̤ade folds back near the top of the structure to create stunning terraces, some of up to 1,000 square feet Рin addition to balconies and other outdoor space.

“Our direction to the architects was, let’s make it snazzy and not build the same old highrise,” Sutherland says. “That’s helped bring us buyers. It’s a neat building that’s somewhat art deco. We said, let’s build a building that will look good, even if it’s going to cost us a little more money.”

While the developer and architect worked hard to carve out distinct penthouses at the Grand on Grand, they also designed with a more affordable price point in mind. One-bedroom condos in the building start in the mid-$200s and two-bedrooms in the mid-$300s. Three-bedroom units are available from the mid-$400s, and penthouses range up to nearly $1 million.

Parking ranges from $26,000 for a compact space to $53,000 for a tandem spot.

A wide range of upgrades is available at the Grand on Grand, but Sutherland says the units come with a high level of standard finishes.

“We will do additional upgrades if people want to go all out, but we think that in this market, it’s better to provide well-appointed units as standard,” Sutherland says.

Standard features include granite countertops, hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, Canac cabinets, ceramic tile baths, track lighting and washer and dryer hookups. The building will have a 24-hour doorman, large balconies and terraces, high-speed Internet access and a fitness center with an adjacent sun deck. About 6,500 square feet of retail is planned for the ground floor, though tenants have not yet been decided.

But the location in River North, currently one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city for new construction, may be the biggest amenity.

“River North has become a great location, and we’re a little west of where there are a lot of highrises,” Sutherland says. “Our views are fantastic, and they will be somewhat protected and unobstructed for some time to the east because zoning west of Dearborn does not allow the density for highrises that tall.”

River North was once a frightening enclave of abandoned warehouses and seedy bars. Beginning in the late ’70s, however, it began to pick up. Artists, architects and photographers began to rent the cheap loft space and in the ’80s and ’90s, restaurants began to follow. The loft craze of the mid- to late ’90s brought a new residential component to the neighborhood, which by then had become the premier art gallery and restaurant district in Chicago.

More recently, construction of highrises, both rental and for-sale, has exploded, and a trickle of new retail development serving the new, well-heeled residents has begun to flow into the neighborhood. The Grand on Grand sits in a well established part of River North, but even more pioneering locations to the northwest are booming now, with endless lofts, townhouses and condos underway.

All of this activity on top of the neighborhood’s cultural cache has attracted a diverse group of buyers, according to Sutherland.

“Some of our buyers already live in the neighborhood or other parts of the city, and we’ve also had people from the suburbs wanting to move downtown, both the younger crowd and some older folks,” Sutherland says. “It’s a wide range.”

A sales center for the Grand on Grand is open at 209 W. Ohio, and first occupancy is scheduled for late 2003.

Sutherland says that he has steered buyers who don’t want to wait that long to another Sutherland Pearsall project, where delivery is scheduled for the end of this year. The Parc Orleans, 1546 N. Orleans, is a 10-story building in Old Town, with more than 70 percent of its units sold.

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