Over the past five years, seven high-rise residential towers have gone up at Lakeshore East, the 28-acre development west of Lake Shore Drive between Randolph Street and Wacker Drive. Until now, the development has seemed a little bereft of life, even though those seven high-rises encircle a six-acre park filled with fountains, lawns, and play areas for children and dogs. But all that is about to change now that construction has begun on the so-called Parkhomes: 24 single-family homes, some lined up like townhouses and some stacked atop one another. They are the first of at least 45 street-level homes to be built around the park, says James Loewenberg, the co-CEO of the Magellan Development Group.

Though a latter stage of the project, these new homes aren’t late-comers, Loewenberg says, but an integral element of Lakeshore East. Without them, he says, the whole development would “have a canyon-like effect that would put people off it. So much of the focus of Lakeshore East has been high-rises, but we need to have something at human scale around the edge of the park.” Plans for a school north of the first Parkhomes are still in the works, Loewenberg says, but construction on a planned Treasure Island grocery to their west may begin at the end of summer.
Lakeshore East’s master plan calls for some 4,900 housing units, of which 1,436 have been sold so far, says Tricia Van Horn, Magellan’s marketing vice president. The first Parkhomes, priced between $1.7 million and $2.5 million, are being built on a slim L-shaped parcel in the southeast corner of the development. They will all face the park and have a Randolph Street high-rise as a backdrop. The first Parkhome houses were supposed to be delivered by fall 2006, but construction did not begin until late May 2007. In a slowing real-estate market, introducing 24 new high-end homes may seem risky, but Loewenberg professes to be unconcerned. “We’ve already sold eight or nine of them,” he says.