Big house on the Prairie

Legacy brings new luxury tower to South Loop

Prairie District HomesWho says the Gold Coast is the place for high living in Chicago?

Sure, the tony neighborhood north of downtown has its share of luxury towers, but how many of their residents come home to a wine tasting after a tough day at the office?

That, apparently, will be the way to unwind at the Tower Residences of Prairie District Homes, a new highrise by Legacy Development Group, at 1731 S. Prairie, in the South Loop. The building will include a special temperature-controlled room for wine storage and a wine club with someone on hand to serve select vintages from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. each weeknight.

“There are phenomenal views of the lake and city, there’s a large fitness area and a club room with a wide screen TV, but the wine tasting will be a nice added benefit,” says Warren Barr, a principal in Legacy Development, www.legacydevelopment.com.

The luxury approach to the Tower Residences of Prairie District Homes is logical given the area’s history. The Prairie Avenue district was once the place to be in Chicago, the equivalent of today’s Gold Coast, on the Near South Side. After its heyday at the turn of the century, however, many of the neighborhood’s historic homes were lost. Others fell into disrepair or were divided into cheap apartments.

As one of the builders behind the massive Central Station development, Legacy is doing its best to return Prairie Avenue to its former splendor. The company, which has a number of other projects underway or recently completed in the South Loop, is building new lofts and townhouses as well as highrise condos in the historic area.

“We’ve found that everyone loves it who comes by,” says William Warman, Barr’s partner in Legacy. “They love the old houses, the sidewalks, the large trees; they equate it to Lincoln Park. With the old history and the new buildings, it’s a nice mix.”

Prairie District Homes includes 48 townhouses, designed by Warman, whose architecture firm, Warman Olsen Warman, does Legacy’s design work. He says that he tried to give the units some historic character to live up to the neighborhood’s past.

“We’re across the street from the Kimball Mansion, kitty corner from Glessner House, the Wheeler mansion is on the next block…” Warman says. “We tried to keep it a little in the Victorian style, in keeping with that historic architecture. We have masonry with stone bases, raised entries with stairs going up to the porches, interesting bays. We tried to keep that classic look of Prairie Avenue.”

At press time, only three of the townhouses remained for sale. They have masonry exteriors with limestone and prairie stone accents, private yards, wrought iron fences, roof decks and garages, with prices in the mid-$600s.

The townhouses will form part of a courtyard, which will open onto a park leading to the new 23-story highrise. The tower will have 177 condos priced from the $190s. They have one to three bedrooms and one to 2.5 baths, ranging from about 760 to 1,575 square feet. Some custom combination units will be as large as 2,300 square feet, Warman says.

The highrise also has a traditional design that will complement the townhouses as well as the surrounding architecture.

“We’re using all the same materials, the same brick and trim as on the townhomes,” Warman says. “It’s a nice area, and the highrise will be nicely set back behind the townhomes with a park in front.”

This will be Legacy’s third highrise in the South Loop. Like the neighborhood, the list of amenities at its towers has evolved quickly. The highrise will have 24-hoor door staff, a valet, a dry cleaner, a business center, a conference room and a club / media room with a large-screen television. And the building’s 2,000-square-foot fitness center will be larger and better equipped than the cramped facilities at many new highrises, according to Warman.

“Our first highrise was more value-oriented, and we decided to do more in terms of amenities with this one,” Warman says.

Legacy has built up quite a portfolio in the South Loop in recent years. The developer still has a few “court homes” left at One E. 15th Place, another of its South Loop highrises. These elevated townhomes, which have entrances above the garage level, offer immediate occupancy and are priced in the $500s.

Legacy’s Prairie Avenue Lofts project, at 221 E. Cullerton, has around 15 units left, Barr says. The first buyers already have closed on their lofts and the remaining units offer immediate occupancy.

The 138-unit concrete loft building includes both converted loft spaces and new units, which were built in three floors added to the top of the existing building. Units have one to three bedrooms and about 950 to 1,400 square feet. Prices range from the $180s to the $240s.

Prairie Avenue Lofts is located less than two blocks from Prairie District Homes, which is part of Central Station. Along with Dearborn Park, Printers Row and a variety of in-fill projects, the 80-acre master planned development has helped to build a whole new neighborhood in the South Loop. Central Station recently passed the $500 million mark in sales.

“We’re surrounded by townhomes that go up to $1 million, right by historic Prairie Avenue,” Barr says. “There’s been a huge amount of development in that area, probably 300 units sold there recently. It’s very much a rebirth of the neighborhood.”

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