When your Chicago rental goes condo…

What should you do when your downtown apartment building goes condo? Renters face a mixed bag of experiences in New York, according to contributors to real estate blog Curbed.

Some talk of renters being offered special “insider prices” while others speak of “insider premiums,” i.e. the developer gets to charge tenants extra if they buy because they are saved the hassle of moving house.

In Chicago’s currently overheated property market we’re seeing more downtown conversions as we mentioned in an earlier blog. So what kind of treatment can renters expect and can these conversions compete with new construction? The City of Chicago’s Condominium Ordinance gives renters certain protections, including right of first refusal. See jump for details of upcoming Streeterville project Pearson on the Park (222 E Pearson). At Pearson on the Park, Hawthorne Development Corp. gave tenants 120 days to decide whether they wanted to buy before their unit went on the market.

Renters were not offered discounts on condo prices, but if tenants decide to buy their apartment without all the planned upgrades they will pay less for it, Jim Luby of Koenig & Strey tells us.

So what are the pros and cons? The building has been around since 1964 and is competing with many new projects in the hot Streeterville market. But prices at Pearson on the Park ($199s to $598s) are lower than those at nearby new construction developments and attractive for a building that is smack-bang on Lake Shore Park, Luby says.

The units will feature new kitchen and bathroom fixtures and larger windows. The building itself gets a makeover in the form of a new lobby, fitness center, sun deck, party room and elevator system. Ceiling heights of course can’t be raised and the 1964-era heating and water system will also remain. Luby tells us an engineer’s report gave it the OK.

Tenants have bought about 25 of the 219 units so far. We want to hear the experiences of renters who are thinking of buying a condo in their building.

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