North Center
From $625,000 to $850,000

A developer committed to “green” amenities is offering what he says are the city’s first townhouses with options for solar heating panels. By his calculations, the panels will pay for themselves in reduced energy costs within 12 years. But few buyers know whether they will stick around that long, so the panels have been a tough sell.

Robert Frankel of Bluestone Development-whose own home and other city projects incorporate green features-says none of the first three buyers at Fletcher Row, his 20-unit development at 2424 West Fletcher Street, opted for the solar panels. Still, he forecasts that about half the eventual buyers will pay the extra $20,000 (state and federal tax write-offs will provide an immediate $8,000 refund). “It’s a lifestyle choice,” Frankel says. “There are buyers who want to spend a little extra to live a more environmentally progressive way.”

Other optional upgrades include flooring made from quickly renewable woods, varnishes low in volatile organic compounds, and water-saving toilets. Prices run from $625,000 for a 2,200-square-foot three-bedroom unit to $850,000 for a 3,100-square-foot four-bedroom unit. The building should be done by late 2007.

Color Forms
Brightly hued structures enliven the urban lofts in this new suburban development

Illustration: Courtesy of Bigelow Homes

From $224,080 to $285,788

Designed to resemble the genial small towns of yesteryear, Hometown Aurora is a development of nearly 1,300 homes on 173 acres in southeastern Aurora. At its center, right where you would expect to find a charming collection of old commercial buildings, the developer, Bigelow Homes, is building eight bright-colored wood-frame structures with retail and office space on the ground floor and loft condos above.

Mike Venetis, Bigelow’s vice president of sales and marketing, describes the loft units as “urban suburban. They are new buildings,” he says, “but they have ten-foot-high ceilings, exposed ductwork, polished concrete floors, metal cable rails instead of wood banisters,

and other cool stuff you would find in a loft in the city.” But they also have such suburban touches as attached two-car garages and views onto a spacious park.

Four of the eight buildings have been completed; two more are under construction, and two more will follow, Venetis says. Twenty of the planned 49 loft units remain available, starting at $224,080 (1,325 square feet) and climbing to $285,788 (1,995 square feet).

Inside Out
The contemporary interiors at R+D659 will reflect the building’s vivid 15-story façade

Photography: Courtesy of Mesirow Financial Real Estate, Inc.

West Loop
From $210,000 to $739,000

People shouldn’t have any trouble finding R+D659 once it is finished in mid-2008. As the name suggests, the condo building will be located at 659 West Randolph Street (at Desplaines), and if that isn’t enough of a locator, the vivid red stripe running up its 15-story façade should do the trick.

The sleek look of the building-designed by Brininstool + Lynch for Mesirow Financial Real Estate and now under construction-carries through to the interior, where eucalyptus floors and laminate Italian cabinetry should impart a stylishly modern ambiance. “The idea is to have the aesthetics of the exterior express the way people are living inside,” says the architect, David Brininstool. Of the building’s 237 units, 65 had been sold at press time; many of them were lower-priced set-asides under the city’s CPAN (Chicago Partnership for Affordable Neighborhoods) program. The market-priced units begin at $210,000-for a 655-square-foot one-bedroom condo-and top off at $739,000 for the 1,644-square-foot three-bedroom penthouse. A parking space costs an additional $35,000.

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