One of the unfortunate side effects of urban redevelopment is the homogeneity that sometimes becomes part of the package. This has been the case lately in some corners of the West Loop, one of the city’s hottest neighborhoods for builders and buyers of new construction – not to mention for fans of fine dining, entertainment and art galleries.
That’s why the partners of VB 1224 Lofts, LLC, wanted their 189-unit loft conversion at 1224 W. Van Buren, www.VB1224.com, to stand out. From its perch just west of Racine on the north side of Van Buren, the building promises to do just that.
Most recent projects in the West Loop have new-construction condos. VB 1224 offers true lofts, overlooking the Eisenhower Expressway and the city like a sentry, in the heart of the West Loop. Residents will be a stone’s throw from the Racine Street elevated train station and expressway ramps and walking distance from Loop offices.
The six-story brick and concrete structure was home to a paper mill in the 1950s and has had a variety of uses since then, the last as a warehouse for True Value Hardware.
The stolid building began a new chapter in mid-July, when exclusive sales and marketing agent New West Realty held an open house in a lavish new sales office and model on site at VB 1224.
“We really feel this is going to be an exciting building,” says Lynn Weekley, sales manager for New West. “So we designed and decorated the sales office and model in kind of a pop art décor with lots of bright colors, leather furniture and other cutting edge contemporary features. That’s not to say that we are trying to dictate a theme for the project, but it illustrates how excitement and vibrancy can resuscitate a building and for that matter, an entire neighborhood.”
As part of the loft conversion, two additional stories will be constructed atop the original structure with floor-to-ceiling windows in a design by Bauhs, Dring, Seglin, Main, architects for the project.
“VB1224 is not your run-of-the-mill West Loop warehouse loft conversion,” says architect Todd Main. “Among other things, it has and will always have an unobstructed view to the south, and it makes sense to take full advantage of this by adding additional stories.”
Noting that the exterior of the existing building has an art deco flavor, Main points out that using a lot of glass on the additional floors highlights the original style. “We also plan to paint the brick portion of the exterior a soft, slightly different shade of gray, which will give it a neutral appearance in a neighborhood that has a good mixture of architectural colors.”
Building features include a secured lobby with a telephone entry system and a mailroom as well as bicycle and storage facilities. Deeded parking is available in the heated first-floor garage for $29,900 per spot.
“Perhaps the most significant building feature is the all-brick and concrete construction,” Main says. “Most loft conversions contain wood beams and columns. Sound-wise, this building is far superior and will perform much better. And the painted round concrete columns with bell caps add to the attractiveness of the unit interiors.”
Floors two through eight will house the 189 loft condominiums, each of which contains living and kitchen areas, a pantry, one bath with a double entry, one bedroom and a den. These are true loft units, with exposed ductwork, exposed concrete columns, hardwood floors in living areas and exposed concrete ceilings that are more than 14 feet high on the original floors and 10 feet high on the new floors. Finishes include track lighting, gas fireplaces with granite hearths, carpeting in bedrooms and dens, individual balconies and terraces, GE appliances, oak kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, ceramic tile baths and Moen fixtures.
The units range from 900 to 1,100 square feet and are priced from the $230s. First occupancy is scheduled for next summer – an unusually quick delivery time due in part to the ultra-clean condition of the building.
“There just is no other product like this in the West Loop,” Weekley says. “This is one of the last conversions in the area, and there is very little if any inventory of units under $300,000 on the market today.”
VB1224 is designed to appeal to a broad range of prospective buyers. The price point will undoubtedly attract first-time buyers and investors who see the upside potential. The proximity to the Loop surely will lure the professional crowd, Weekley says, and the flexibility of contemporary loft living will allow residents to craft a personality for the building.
“Loft living in the West Loop gives rise to a lot of self-expression,” Weekley says. “New West Realty has been involved with countless projects in the area, but we are especially excited about this one. I have the feeling it will take on a life of its own.”
Maybe they shouldn’t have removed the True Value sign.