Double take

A colorful condo design turns heads in Edgewater
Catalpa Gardens When fireman Dan Buganski saw an ad for Catalpa Gardens Condominiums last January, he decided to walk from his Edgewater firehouse to the nearby sales center. He had been toying with the idea of moving from his Northwest Side house into a condo, and after his visit, he realized the perfect home had been sitting under his nose all along.

Buganski bought a one-bedroom one-bath condo at Catalpa Gardens, an 11-story project planned for 1122 W. Catalpa St., about a month later and a few weeks after that, his sister Karen purchased a unit of her own on his advice.

The Buganskis are two of the many buyers who quickly helped push sales at the 126-unit development to more than 60 percent since it opened sales in September of 2004. Charles Cornelius, partners with William Lockhart and Reza Toulabi in the development company, says Catalpa has attracted a wide range of buyers who are drawn to its value, innovative design and convenience.

“We have many first-time homebuyers, and many moving up from Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast simply because you can get more square feet for your dollar at Catalpa Gardens, and in Edgewater in general,” Cornelius says. “It’s a terrific community for almost any type of buyer profile.”

The homes have many of the comforts buyers expect from high-end developments, Cornelius says, but at a competitive price point. Features include hardwood floors, granite countertops, track lighting, pre-wiring for cable TV, balconies or terraces and gas fireplaces per plan. All units have two bedrooms and one or two baths with 1,054 to 1,408 square feet. Prices range from the $270s to the $380s.

The building will have a rooftop dog walk, 184 heated parking spaces, a doorman, a penthouse fitness center and a “green roof” system.

“The finish level for the price is (Catalpa Gardens’) most attractive feature,” Cornelius says. “Being able to find that high of a finish level in that price range for new construction, most will agree, is a very difficult thing to find.” So is innovative design. At Catalpa Gardens, though, a creative response to the building’s site and scale was a priority, according to David Seglin, of Bauhs Dring Seglin Main Architects and Planners. One of the most striking components of the complex is the breakdown of the building into three structures connected by a fourth-floor community terrace and glass walkways on every floor.

“The building doesn’t appear as one large building but is more in keeping with the scale of surrounding structures by breaking the mass into three separate towers,” Seglin says.

New Homes Magazine recently named Catalpa Gardens, which utilizes an original design concept by Thomas J. Greene, of Greene and Proppe Design, Chicago’s best new mid-rise.

While the design brings human scale to what would otherwise be a hulking building, Catalpa Gardens will hardly fade into its surroundings. The façade features a rolling splash of blue on beige; the fourth floor and rooftop gardens promise more color, with trees shooting upwards and vines creeping down; and the building is capped with red awnings.

“We think that the color and the design is going to (make Catalpa) a very memorable and remarkable feature of the skyline in Edgewater,” Cornelius says. “It’s something that will be a focal point in the community.”

Not that Edgewater is short on color or variety. The neighborhood is home to a growing commercial base of restaurants, bars and retail. Trendy Andersonville spots such as Tomboy, Jin Ju, Kopi and Sushi Luxe draw customers from all over Chicago, but the scene has expanded beyond that core with new restaurants such as Speakeasy, South and the Indie Café opening throughout Edgewater.

Near the Catalpa Gardens site, newer restaurants such as Francesca’s Bryn Mawr have complemented old favorites such as Ethiopian Diamond and Ole St. Andrew’s Inn. The Bryn Mawr el stop on the Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line is close, and Edgewater probably has a better concentration of el stops than any neighborhood outside of the Loop.

Yet with all of Edgewater at his fingertips, the hot spot Buganski looks forward to the most is the one right outside his back door, on a large private patio. “I can barbeque, have people over, get a little sun,” he said.
A sales center for Catalpa Gardens,, is located at 5539 N. Broadway, and first occupancy at the project is scheduled for summer of 2006.

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