Millennium Park condominium boom creating shortage of affordable parking

The amazing popularity of downtown Chicago’s Millennium Park has sparked a boom in condominium development, but it also is fueling a race for parking near the famed 24-acre center of entertainment, art and landscaping.

Located on Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Monroe streets, Millennium Park is a center for world-class art, music, architecture and landscape design. Visitors can experience everything from interactive public art and ice-skating to al fresco dining and free classical concerts presented by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus.

The dazzling Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the most sophisticated outdoor concert venue of its kind in the United States, was designed by Frank Gehry, one of the world’s greatest living architects.

Lakeshore East, a 28-acre mixed-use development just steps from Michigan Avenue and immediately north of Millennium Park, is planned for about 5,000 new homes, a six-acre public park, more than 2 million square feet of commercial space, 770,000 square feet of retail space, 2,200 hotel rooms and the city of Chicago’s first new public elementary school in years.

But where is the affordable parking? Today, downtown condominium developers are charging $45,000 to $60,000 for a deeded parking spot near Millennium Park. At Lake Point Tower a space recently sold for $99,000. And garage parking rates in Chicago’s Loop can cost $24 or more a day.

“As property keeps appreciating in the hot Millennium Park neighborhood, people are seeing the value in owning a downtown parking space near Michigan Avenue and Grant Park,” said Dick Delaney, executive vice president of Field Harbor Parking LLC.

“New-construction downtown condominium developments typically offer only one parking space per unit. Demand is already surpassing supply. The trend is clear,” said Paulette Rodriguez, who is marketing condo garage spaces at the 407-car Field Harbor Parking garage on the lower level at 165 N. Field Blvd., just north of Millennium Park.

An automobile access ramp recently opened to provide traffic access to the lower level of the space. More than 25 percent of the 197 indoor deeded and heated parking spaces in phase II at Field Harbor Park have been sold since April, said Rodriguez. Forty of the spaces have been closed.

Phase II deeded garage spaces prices range from $35,500 to $52,500, and motorcycle spaces are available for $20,000. The condo garage currently is offering a summer promotion for buyers, guaranteeing $1,500 discounts for each space bought and a choice of either six months of free assessments or rental income for six months, Rodriguez said.

In phase I of the condo garage, all 205 parking spaces sold out within 11 months, Rodriguez said. “Buyers range from homeowners without deeded parking to local and foreign investors as well as city and suburban residents,” Rodriguez said.

The two-level Field Harbor Parking garage, www.fieldharborparking.com, is on the southern fringe of the Lakeshore East development, a stone’s throw from Burnham Harbor and the Columbia Yacht Club. Within five months, the garage also will have a new $500,000 commercial elevator for eight to 10 people that will connect the lower-level parking garage to Randolph Street, Delaney said.

“The convenience of having your own private parking space near Millennium Park avoids hassles and maximizes downtown enjoyment,” Rodriguez said. “Parking like this is priceless, making the purchase of a space a smart investment choice.”

Purchasing a parking space is much like buying a condominium or any other piece of real estate, Rodriguez said. Most lending institutions will grant a mortgage or equity loan to make the purchase, which also comes with the same tax advantages as buying a condominium, she explained.

A down payment on a parking space is usually 20 percent of the purchase price.

Real estate columnist and media consultant Don DeBat has written about Chicago-area housing and mortgage markets since 1968. He is chief executive officer of DeBat Media, Inc., www.dondebat.net.

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