Lofty ambitions

Rare loft condos well received in Bridgeport

Union LoftsAs the first loft condo conversion to hit Bridgeport, Union Lofts, 939 W. 35th Street, faced an uncertain market. No one was sure how a housing type associated more with downtown Chicago would fare in a bungalow belt neighborhood known for its single-family homes, tight-knit community and of course, machine politics.

At press time, with only 16 of 71 units remaining for sale, it’s safe to say, lofts have been a hit in the Near Southwest neighborhood. A convenient location and competitive price point have been strong factors spurring sales. The fact that citywide, loft conversions have become an endangered species hasn’t hurt either, according to Paul Marks, partners with Paul Dincin in Tandem Developers, LLC, developer of Union Lofts.

“This is one of the last true loft buildings currently on the market as loft condos,” Marks says. “That’s resonated well with buyers. A lot of them are seeking that authentic, rustic loft feel, of course with the security of having all new mechanicals and flooring materials for units.”

As a heavy timber building, Union Lofts has classic loft features: exposed beams, brick and spiral ductwork, as well as hardwood floors, oversized windows and ceiling heights of nearly 12 feet.
Those features and competitive pricing have been drawing buyers from areas as diverse as Bucktown, Lincoln Park, the West Loop and the south suburbs.

“We expected to draw from the South Loop because of its proximity, but we are excited about drawing too from the North Side and the Southwest Side, also the southern and southwestern suburbs,” Marks says. “We have some buyers from Bridgeport who grew up here and moved to the suburbs and now are reaching that age as first-time home buyers when they want to be back in the neighborhood they’re familiar with.”

And with one-bedroom lofts starting in the $170s at Union Lofts, the project is ideal for first-timers just entering the market, Marks says. Two-bedrooms start in the mid-$200s, and secured outdoor parking spots are $15,000 each.

A new construction floor of penthouses will be added atop the existing four-story building, with the new construction set back to create large, private decks. The 14 ground-floor units have another perc. Spiral staircases lead down to bonus space in finished English basements in these units, only two of which remained at press time.

Standard features in the lofts include Kohler fixtures, ceramic baths, track lighting, carpeted bedrooms, washer and dryer hookups and GE appliances. Most units also have private balconies.
Those are the same features found in many downtown developments, but here they’re offered at a better price, according to Marks.

“We were able to hold our overall pricing structure to a more reasonable price point to allow buyers priced out of the South Loop market to find a similar home in Bridgeport,” Marks says. “On average we’re 15 to 20 percent lower than similar homes in the South Loop.”

But lower prices don’t translate into less convenience, according to Marks.

“We feel our location is a tremendous benefit,” Marks says. “It’s accessible and close to downtown, close to the expressways. The neighborhood is livable and easy to get to, with good shopping, from big box retailers to small mom and pop stores on 35th Street and Halsted.”

Bridgeport is a short ride from the Loop, perched on the edge of both the Dan Ryan and Stevenson expressways, as well as the Chicago Transit Authority’s Orange Line.

The benefits of the building’s location became fully obvious to Paul Dincin, however, only when he stood on its roof.

“This building has the most unexpected, great views I’ve every seen,” Dincin says. “You look at the building and might not expect it, but if you look north to the city, there are no buildings between you and downtown.”

And unlike many loft buildings, which have good skyline views but industrial surroundings, Union Lofts has light on all four sides and sits on the edge of a residential location.

“This is the perfect loft building,” Dincin says. “On two sides, it’s in a real residential neighborhood, and it has four sides of light. It’s that unique warehouse building that has its foot in a residential neighborhood.”

A sales trailer for Union Lofts is open on site, at 939 W. 35th St.

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