List Price: $555,000
Sale Price: $555,000
The Property: When the sale closed December 17 on this three-bedroom in a new condo building in Lincoln Square, it was just one link in a fast-growing chain of sales in hot neighborhoods by the developers.
That week, they also closed the sales of five others in this building in thre 4800 block of North Damen Avenue, at prices from $475,000 to $555,000; the seventh and last sale is pending. The development company, Candea, has sale contracts on six out of seven in the identical building that’s under construction next door. A third building is just getting started, although nothing is for sale there yet. All eight units in a building that the firm is finishing in the 5400 block of North Clark Street in Andersonville are under contract. And sales will start in the spring on a project in the 5000 block of North Lincoln Avenue, also in Lincoln Square.
“Everybody has a list of checkmarks [when they’re househunting] and Lincoln Square and Andersonville get so many things checked,” says Alan Candea, partner with his brother Armand in the firm. (Only Alan is pictured above; Armand was out of town.) The brothers have firsthand knowledge of the appeal of locations like that; they grew up just ten blocks away from the Damen project and now live nearby in Bowmanville.
A few years back, the firm started buying buildable lots in the two neighborhoods because, Alan Candea says, they saw a confluence of opportunities ahead: “People look in Lincoln Park and Lake View, which are congested, and then they come north.” And “nobody was building for a couple of years, so inventory was going to be really small” when buyers were ready to roll again after the recession eased off.
The pair focused on sites that weren’t only buildable but were walkable, too. “A theme of our company is that it’s critical that people who live in [our buildings] can walk to parks and trains and restaurants and other stuff,” Candea says. From the Damen project alone, the Brown Line’s Damen stop and Metra’s Ravenswood station are both walkable, not to mention Amundsen High School and the tons of shopping and dining options along Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Square and Clark Street in Andersonville. The grocery chain of the moment, Mariano’s, is coming this spring to a spot next to the Ravenswood Metra station.
Although the projects are typical urban infill structures with retail space on the ground floor and condos above, Candea says they have two strategic differences: The brothers have bought only extra-wide lots so that the condos can have spread-out floorplans, and every residence comes with ample outdoor space.
That latter one is what hooked Bob and Sherri Valencic, who just moved into a second-floor unit in the Damen building. Looking to move from an Uptown condo that had the usual shared back steps/porch that’s common in so many older multi-unit buildings, they wanted more. The 1,400-square-foot two-bedroom on Damen that they bought from Candea has a 1,400-square-foot terrace. “That’s bigger than the condo we came from,” says Sherri. “It was about 1,000 square feet.” On Friday, still unpacking boxes, they sat for a moment envisioning their plans for the terrace, which at the moment only has a fireplace and a small table on it:
They want a spa, a cooking area, a pergola, a privacy screen of arborvitae trees, and maybe a spot where a band can play during parties.
“We want to enjoy three seasons out there,” Sherri Valencic said.
Price Points: Alan Candea says that the trio of building sites were all deeply discounted when prior developers failed to put up their boom-era projects. That helps keep a lid on the prices they in turn charge for what they build. On Lincoln Avenue, for example, the company paid $300,000 for the site in January 2013, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. That’s 15 percent off the $350,000 that the previous developer had paid for the site in 2006, and precisely half of the 2010 asking price.
Discount deals like that “are getting hard to find now,” he added.