In 2008, according to Appraisal Research Counselors, developers called off 13 downtown condo projects, pulling a total of 2,078 housing units out of an already log-jammed condo market. (Only one of those buildings—Burnham Pointe, at 720 South Clark Street—was already under construction; it was sold to an apartment developer.) While the cancellations aren’t necessarily happy news for the approximately 645 buyers who had put money down on units in those projects, they do relieve some of the inventory pressure that had built up in the downtown neighborhoods. “It means we’ll have less product to work through,” says Gail Lissner, Appraisal Research’s doyenne of development.
The canceled projects had little in common other than coming late to the party, Lissner says. “They all started [pre-construction marketing] in late 2006 through 2007,” she says, “so definitely they were all victims of timing. You don’t see anything in any of them that doomed them from the beginning. Some of them were very desirable projects.”
Canceled projects varied in both size and price points. The biggest was Park 1000, a 40-story tower with 346 condos that had been proposed for 1000 South Michigan Avenue. Smaller projects included James Place, a 42-unit building that was to have been built at 100 West Huron Street; and two phases totaling 44 units at Westhaven Park, replacement housing for the CHA’s old Henry Horner Homes near the United Center. (I know what you’re thinking: that doesn’t seem like downtown. Appraisal Research draws its limits pretty far west.) Prices ranged from $221 per square foot for one of the Westhaven phases up to $900 per square foot at Canyon Ranch, which was to be housed in a striking round tower 67 stories high at 680 North Rush Street.
The cancellations still leave 4,532 new condos to be delivered this year, on the heels of 4,900 in 2008, 4,800 in 2007, and 4,200 in 2006. But the heat is off: In 2010, Lissner reports, just 656 condos will be delivered downtown, in three projects: Ten East Delaware, the Ritz-Carlton Residences at 625 North Michigan Avenue (pictured), and Walton on the Park at 1 West Walton Street. She says we may see even fewer units in 2011 and 2012. Most of the canceled projects would have delivered in 2010 or later, not in 2009, Lissner says.
And finally, you can hear me, the Chicago Tribune’s David Greising, and William Strauss, an economist with the Federal Reserve in Chicago, start the year gloomily with a 2009 economic forecast on the “848” show on WBEZ.