State Place locks up sales with green space, convenience

State PlaceWhen the city looked to redevelop the former site of police headquarters, at 11th and State, it demanded a project that would add to the street’s reviving retail base. Block 37, to the north, has gotten endless media attention, but this property, stretching a full city block, from 11th Street to Roosevelt Road, is a prominent parcel in redeveloping State Street and the South Loop.

Three of the area’s best known developers, Mesirow Stein Real Estate, Near North Properties and Northern Realty Group, teamed up for the winning proposal. Rather than cluster retail in one spot and build an adjoining residential development, State Street Associates, as the development partners are known, planned a continuous façade of ground-floor retail – 70,000 square feet of it – along the entire length of “State Place,”

The plain but imposing former headquarters of the Chicago Police Department is being replaced with a long row of shops and services that will include a Walgreen drugstore at State and Roosevelt and a major health club. Other potential tenants include restaurants, a bookstore, a bank and a high-end wine store.

The influx of retail and its attendant foot traffic in such a prominent spot is important for the South Loop, which until recently had experienced a gap between steady residential building and lagging commercial development. State Place will add to a growing number of stores and services in the neighborhood, and with a new Jewel-Osco and Starbucks next door, the project will offer condominium buyers a level of convenience that’s tough to beat in any neighborhood, says Keith Giles, of Frankel & Giles, exclusive marketing agent for the development.

“It’s the only project down here that will have substantial retail right in the building,” Giles says. “Convenience is always a benefit to people looking for a place to live. Walgreen’s sells just about everything, and having a major health club in the building is superior to any exercise room.”

Equally important to home buyers, though, is the opportunity such a large site provided for residential design, says James Loewenberg, one of the developers and president of Loewenberg & Associates, the project architect.

“It gave us a lot of opportunity to do some very interesting things and to introduce a housing product you couldn’t build without that kind of site,” Loewenberg says. “About 50 percent of the space is open area. On a deck of about 70,000 square feet, a little over half of it is open space.”

The north end of State Place will be a 24-story tower with 159 “tower residences.” To the south are three four-story mid-rises over a common base of ground-floor retail and two levels of parking. In between the highrise and each of the mid-rises are wide landscaped decks with common park-like areas and private “yards.”

Each of the four “parks” in the sky will have a different flavor, with unique landscaping and varying degrees of common and private space, Loewenberg says. And a continuous fourth-floor walkway along the project’s west end means that dog owners can walk the pooch a full city block without leaving the building.

“Between the first two buildings in the development are the swimming pool, health facilities and the start of landscaped gardens, which have different themes and sitting areas, and provide different experiences for residents,” Loewenberg says. “We designed extra-large balconies overlooking these – 10 to 15 feet deep – so you have some greenery even though you’re in the air.”

The tower residences offer highrise condos with one to three bedrooms, priced from the $190s to the $430s. Two 24th floor penthouses, which have large roof decks and 1,925 to more than 2,500 square feet, are priced at $750,000 and around $1 million.

These units have the luxury amenities buyers expect in a downtown highrise: a 24-hour doorman, a swimming pool and hospitality suite, a fitness center, a business center and indoor heated parking. But what’s unusual about the project is that buyers in the mid-rise “terrace” units have access to the same highrise amenities, though their condos are in some ways more like townhouses.

“The terraces offer a townhouse setting, in smaller buildings that look onto gardens, but with amenities you typically get in a highrise,” says Sales Director Tom Kearns. “That hybrid design has been really popular.”

The 84 terrace units have one to three bedrooms and are priced from the $180s to the $590s. Features in State Place condos include nine-foot ceiling heights, hardwood floors in living areas, private balconies or terraces, maple cabinets, Whirlpool appliances and ceramic tile baths.

The wide price range, creative design and convenience of State Place have drawn a diverse mix of buyers from the South Side, North Side, city and suburbs, Kearns says. The project has even attracted a group that might be expected to avoid this particular location.

“Our most significant group of buyers is people who live in the area, but the second biggest group is city employees, including policemen,” Loewenberg says. “I don’t know if they have fond memories of (the former headquarters) or what, but a number are buying here.”

Others who already live in the neighborhood know that State and Roosevelt marks the center of convenience for transportation as well as shopping, Giles says.

“The corners of State and Wabash and Roosevelt – that strip on both sides of the street – is going to be forever the retail focal point of the South Loop,” Giles says. “The Jewel obviously anchors the area, you have the Starbucks there and now our retail. All of the el trains stop right there, and there is a lot of pedestrian traffic not only from all the trains and buses, but also people heading to Soldier Field and Grant Park and the museums.”

At press time, State Place was about 30 percent sold. Construction is scheduled to start in the fall, with first occupancy, in the terrace buildings, at the end of 2003.

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