A Superior development

JFJ’s Superior West brings bold design to River North
Superior West When you’re building on a street called Superior in a district known for its art galleries and design firms, you’d better come up with something creative. At least that was the feeling of developer Jon Zitzman, who says he set a high standard for design at his latest project, Superior West, at 101 W. Superior, in River North.

“We really wanted to do something unique for the area,” said Zitzman, president of JFJ Development Co., joint venture partners with Alta Development, LLC in Superior West, www.101superior.com. “We definitely wanted to design a building that would stand out against the concrete.”

Most of the building’s façade – clad in pre-cast panels that resemble limestone – has a traditional look that nods to the classic loft buildings of River North, but the northeast corner of Superior West rises in a glass tower that provides for bright interiors as well as a distinctly modern design statement on the prominent corner of Superior and Clark.

“We wanted to create an inviting element and take advantage of the unobstructed views,” said Tom Riker, senior associate at Hartshorne & Plunkard, the architects for the project.

The 12-story building has 48 two-bedroom two-bath condos, though buyers have the option of combining units for larger three-bedroom, three-bath homes. Floor-to-ceiling windows and private balconies or terraces create a feeling of openness, according to Riker, and allow homeowners to take advantage of stunning skyline views.

With a maximum of six units per floor, Superior West aims for a more livable environment than some of the massive towers that have been springing up nearby.

“It’s not like living on a floor with 20 units and everyone keeps to themselves,” Zitzman said. “Superior West is a smaller building catering to people who want to live in more of a personal setting.”

Privacy, however, is at a premium at Superior West, which features approximately seven inches of insulation and double layers of drywall between units. Dropped ceilings allow for eight inches of concrete between vertical neighbors, in addition to special cellulose insulation that molds to the space, filling it completely.

Although 101 W. Superior offers more of a boutique feeling, the building still has the amenities buyers expect in larger condo buildings – a 24-hour doorman, storage areas and four levels of heated parking, where deeded spaces start at $32,000. In addition to the lobby and storage, the first floor will also have a retail space.

At press time, units were priced from the $360s to the $780s, and 19 of 48 had been sold. Many of the remaining condos are located in the building’s coveted glass corner, with views facing the northeast.

JFJ’s niche, according to Zitzman, always has been smaller, high-end projects and a focus on detail and quality, not volume. Superior West, though larger than JFJ’s other recent developments, follows the same principle, offering a higher level of standard finishes than many competitors, Zitzman said. Finishes include oak flooring, ceiling heights of around 10 feet, gas fireplaces, granite counters and GE Profile appliances. Solid-core doors, brushed chrome hardware, designer carpet and abundant closet space are all standard – as well as cutting edge home technology.

“The technology is especially unique,” Zitzman said. “Each unit will be wired for everything possible. They’re pre-wired for audio-video, computer network systems and GE Smart Home systems.”

“Smart-Home” technology allows residents to coordinate electrical, heat and security systems, and to monitor and control their condos long distance via the Internet. For example, the homes’ GE Smart ConnectionCenter system allows buyers to adjust a home’s temperature with a cell phone before they arrive or to record a TV show long distance. The system also helps with things like checking weather or e-mail and shopping for groceries on-line.

Homeowners might hardly need to leave home with that sort of technology, but according to Zitzman, the excitement of the surrounding streets has been a prime reason for buying at Superior West.

Located north of the Chicago River and just west of Michigan Avenue, River North was revived in the ’80s as entrepreneurial artisans and design gurus set up shop in old warehouse spaces. Restaurateurs and hoteliers followed and the neighborhood soon became a Mecca for art, design and fashion. The neighborhood is said to have the largest concentration of art galleries outside of Manhattan.

During the ’90s, however, River North’s residential base expanded faster than any other element of this diverse area. Old warehouses and commercial buildings were converted into loft condominiums and new highrises began to replace parking lots at a rapid clip as buyers who wanted to be walking distance from the city’s best restaurants and art galleries, as well as Mag Mile shopping, gobbled up units.

Zitzman’s other current projects include La Schola, a four-unit project of full-floor units priced in the $2 million range at 18 E. Division, and 707 W. Barry, a 15-unit condo building with all corner units, priced from about the $380s, in Lakeview.

His hands-on approach and attention to detail at all his projects are probably in the blood, according to Zitzman, who grew up around construction sites, tagging along with his father and grandfather as they built single-family homes in Ohio. He says he founded JFJ Development in 1994 to carry on that 60-year-old family tradition of first-rate construction.

“My company is more focused on offering higher-end quality,” Zitzman said. “We’re not building 500 units per year. Typically we develop 20 to 50 units, allowing us to pay more attention to detail and the buyers.”

The sales center at Superior West is located at 64 West Superior and is open Saturdays and Sundays, from noon to 4 p.m. and by appointment.

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