Condos wow crowd at the Vic

Lakeview residents are used to seeing crowds outside the Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield, a popular venue for music and second-run movies, but lately, consumers have been lining up across the street for a new loft and condominium development.

The $30 million project takes its name from the music venue and so far, it’s proved just as popular. Buyers reserved 37 of 54 units at the Lofts at the Vic, the first phase of the development, during a sneak preview in February, and at press time, the lofts were 85 percent sold, according to Jim Colella, director of sales and marketing for developer Joseph Freed Homes.

Joseph Freed is converting an existing six-story rental apartment building into 54 loft condos and constructing a new seven-story brick and stone building with 51 condos on the site of an adjacent parking lot.

The existing building was built in the late 1920s as the Belmont Sheffield Trust & Savings Bank, an institution that never opened because of the 1929 stock market crash and the start of the Great Depression. But today’s buyers will reap the benefits of the “jazz era architecture” created for the bank that never was, according to Colella.

The distinctive north façade of the building has fluted granite columns that once marked the entry and grand lobby of the original bank building. “It’s cool because when you’re up that high, you can see quite a ways,” Colella said. “In Lakeview, the building heights aren’t that high off of the lakefront. From some units on the Belmont side, you can see Wrigley Field. On the east you can see a long way toward the lake, and there are some great west views too.”

The offices above the first floor of the bank building were later converted into rental apartments. The current developer is converting them into loft condos that are mostly efficient studios and one-bedrooms, although a number of larger one-bedroom duplexes also are available. At press time, prices on remaining units ranged from the $160s for a 400-square-foot studio to the $270s for a one-bedroom duplex with a spiral staircase, a large walk-in closet and 844 square feet.

Features include full appliance packages, ceiling heights of 10.5 to 14 feet, hardwood floors, exposed ductwork and concrete ceilings, track lighting per plan and ceramic baths. The first loft units are scheduled for delivery this summer.

The new-construction condos are slated for occupancy in the fall and winter of 2006. They will have two to three bedrooms and two to three baths, priced from the $380s to the $550s. Features include 10-foot ceiling heights, hardwood floors in living areas, brushed chrome hardware, granite countertops and full appliance packages.

The development,, also includes 8,000 square feet of retail space and a new-construction parking garage with space for 233 cars. Buyers of the new condos can purchase deeded parking spots. Loft owners will be able to rent spaces in the new garage, which also will offer more spots for patrons of the Vic Theatre than the previous surface lot.

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