South Loop lofts and towers sail smoothly over market’s troubled waters

Prairie District Lofts

Developers always put on smiles and spout assurances of success when a real-estate market goes sour. But when pressed, few are willing or able to come up with hard figures to back their sunny claims.

That’s what makes Brian Giles’ confidence so impressive. Giles, a senior vice president at Kargil Development and a partner with the Frankel & Giles real-estate team, has developed or marketed more than a dozen South Loop projects over the past 15 years, and he can back up his bragging about his companies’ latest projects with real numbers.

“I have the numbers right here, so I can tell you that as of today, we’ve sold 72 of the 116 units at Prairie District Lofts, and we’re averaging about a sale a week these days,” Giles said in late July.

Prairie District Lofts, one of two developments Frankel & Giles is marketing in the South Loop, is one of the neighborhoods last “true loft” projects, Giles says. The timber and concrete lofts are inside a 103-year-old brick building in the 1700 block of South Indiana Avenue. The building was home to a commercial photography company before being converted into rental apartments. Kargil has converted those units into one- to three-bedroom condominiums with renovated bathrooms and kitchens.

Prairie District LoftsThe lofts range in price from the $200s for a one-bedroom/one-bath, single-story unit to the $520s for a three-bedroom/four-bath duplex. Each home has exposed brick walls, timber or concrete elements per plan, fireplaces, hardwood floors, and ceiling heights of 12 to 20 feet. Features in upgraded homes include GE stainless-steel appliances, granite countertops, Grohe chrome fixtures and 42-inch Cardell cabinets.

Some as-is units are available for immediate delivery. Buyers who desire upgraded units can be in their homes within eight weeks.

Practically next door to the development is the site of Kargil Development’s other new South Loop endeavor, the X/O Condominiums.

Just as the old industrial feel of Prairie District Lofts appeals to young buyers looking for a hip, urban home, X/O’s angular towers and tony townhouses will set the standard for residential design for the area and are already attracting buyers searching for luxury living.

The X/O Condominiums will have 487 condos spread throughout two high-rises – a 46-story north tower and a 34-story south tower – and a row of 10 townhouses near the intersection of 18th Street and Prairie Avenue.

X/O CondominiumsKargil has sold almost half of X/O’s homes to date, with almost $11 million in pre-construction sales being recorded since April 1. If there’s a downturn in Chicago’s market, Giles isn’t seeing it on his end.

“Obviously we’re pleased with the activity we’re seeing,” he says. “It says that Chicago is still a desirable city, and that’s never going to change. X/O always needed to stand out, and from the beginning, we knew that if the market was going to go down, we’d still be able to appeal to buyers, and we are.”

For X/O, Kargil turned to renowned architect Lucien Lagrange to deliver a distinctive, avant-garde design. Lagrange has described his leaning tower design as two high-rises “dancing in the sky with one another.”

“There’s a lot of product on the market. We saw that coming and realized we needed to separate ourselves from the competition. Lucien’s curved structures clearly do that,” Giles said.
X/O’s 200 different floor plans range from a one-bedroom condos starting in the $290s to three-bedrooms priced at more than $2 million. The project is slated to deliver in 2010.

Amenities at X/O will include a private theater, social lounge, game room, cafe, wine bistro, and Spa X/O. The spa, which will be managed by American Leisure Corp, will feature a swimming pool, sauna, fitness center and sunbathing deck.

The Prairie District Lofts sales center, located at 1727 S Indiana Ave, is open from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday or by appointment. X/O’s sales gallery, on the fifth floor at 1712 S Indiana Ave, is open from noon to 5 p.m. Friday to Monday or by appointment.

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