Ald. Reilly, Related Midwest unveil new plan for 400 N. Lake Shore Dr.

By Daniel Patton, March 12, 2020


Alderman Brendan Reilly and Related Midwest President Curt Bailey unveiled a new proposal for 400 N. Lake Shore Drive at the Hotel Intercontinental on March 10. Speaking at a forum hosted by the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR), the official and the developer appear to have not only put residents at ease, but also proven that less can indeed be more.

Related Midwest hopes to begin construction by the end of the year. The company’s intention to scale back on a two-tower plan that was released and rejected in 2018 is a key to making that happen.

Gone from the previous design are the hotel component, the ground-level “podium” that connects the structures, and the top 200 feet of the larger building. The new proposal emphasizes rental occupancy, eliminates the podium completely, and caps off the larger building at 875 feet.


400 N. Lake Shore Drive (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)


Although the summary fulfilled Alderman Reilly’s promise that, “you’re going to see a very different proposal from the last one,” it also came with his assurance that, “by no stretch is this approved.”

Either way, the future possibilities are looking much better than the current reality. 

Located at the site of a previous effort to build Santiago Calatrava’s record-breaking Chicago Spire, 400 N. Lake Shore Drive is currently home to the hole that was excavated for the project and then abandoned when a court ruling halted it in 2014.

After receiving gracious introductions from SOAR President Deborah Gershbein and Alderman Reilly, Bailey described the proposal from the stage of the hotel’s Avenue Room, where an estimated 200 attendees had arrived to participate. He expressed admiration, enthusiasm, and pride for his company and the neighborhood.

“This is our eighth project in the last 25 years in Streeterville,” he explained. “We are enormous fans of this area … we’re very proud of the work that we’ve done here in the past and the changes we’ve seen in Streeterville.”



400 N Lake Shore Drive (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)


Referring to the development as “the next step in the evolution of this neighborhood,” he proceeded to run through a “punch list” of solutions created to accommodate concerns that residents expressed when the earlier plan was released:

  • The hotel and associated programs have been removed
  • The podium has been completely removed
  • Hotel use has been eliminated, reducing taxi and rideshare traffic by approximately 70%. Service traffic will be directed to Lake Shore Drive
  • Through-traffic will not be possible from North Water Street to Lake Shore Drive
  • All pedestrian access to DuSable Park is now completed by using the Chicago Riverwalk
  • The pedestrian paths have been fully redesigned to include wider paths, greater security coverage, and improved lighting
  • Related Midwest remains committed to the completion of DuSable Park and the connection of the park from the Chicago Riverwalk

A slideshow of architectural renderings and bullet-point summaries complemented Bailey’s presentation. It displayed a park illuminated by dozens of lights, a protective barrier between pedestrians and Lake Shore Drive, and an arrangement of cameras that can film activity from 24 points of view throughout the 4.5 acre complex.

Bailey also stated that Related Midwest has committed $10 million towards the completion of DuSable Park and provide ample access to it as well as the Riverwalk.


400 N Lake Shore Drive (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)


The crowd responded with a round of applause and an abundance of questions.

The first enquiry revealed that the buildings would contain 1,100 residents but only 300 parking spaces, making traffic a matter of concern for the remainder of the Q&A.

Bailey indicated that, according to several of Related’s recently completed projects, a growing number of city residents prefer to live car-free. He also reiterated that the property’s delivery docks would be accessible only through Lake Shore Drive and the construction equipment needed to build them would go the same route.

Alderman Reilly stepped up to explain how he had incorrectly prioritized the need for parking garages early in his political career.

Kimley Horn traffic expert Peter Lemmon, also on hand for the presentation, addressed the issue as well. He explained that traffic on N. Water St. was necessary to avoid major inconveniences for cars and pedestrians alike.

“We’ve taken a hard look at all the different ways to run this traffic,” he said. “People need to get dropped off, and you want cars to be able to turn around.”

The accessibility, cost, completion, and operation of DuSable Park was another popular topic. The presenters indicated that those responsibilities would mostly fall within the Park District’s purview.

If all goes according to plan, the park will be used as a staging area for vehicles and equipment during construction of the first tower and open for public use upon its completion.

A number of attendees used their turn at the microphone to compliment the aesthetic of 400 N. Lake Shore Drive throughout the session, which was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill architect David M. Childs.

Bringing in the spring market with growth in Chicago

by Urban Real Estate

The Chicago-area housing market is showing strength, as sales and median  prices increased for a second consecutive month after a slow 2019.

 In the city, 1,427 homes sold in January, according to data released by real  estate trade association, Illinois Realtors. That was an increase of 5.9 percent from January 2019 and followed December’s 10.5 percent year-over-year increase. Chicago is a consistent market in which the city is often monitored for its units and volume in communities as diverse as the residents who call them home.

“In evaluating where the market is headed, seeing real estate pick up after a slower fall and early winter is a welcome sign of stability,” said Matt Farrell, managing partner at Urban Real Estate. “We see cautiously optimistic buyers looking for just the right home, and making offers on compellingly priced houses.”

This especially matters as full-service real estate brokerages continue to  expand their own value proposition, in- creasing services and marketing efforts,  and raising the bar in the industry.

“We are proud to every day be able to do our part to move the market and  serve buyers, sellers, renters and investors from many corners of the world,”  Farrell said. “But we also know that staying ahead means fastening your seatbelt and trying new and different ways to bring quality service to our  clients—an endeavor we are embarking on this spring with excitement  and pride.

“The Chicago market continues to perform like few others for its diversity, access to education, history, culture, medicine, and real estate,” said the founder of the New Eastside’s number one real estate office. “We continue to raise the bar, guiding our clients through the single largest transaction of their lifetime, one we will continue to help them navigate in any market.”

Urban Real Estate has served the community for more than 15 years and Farrell said his gratitude for being in New Eastside is unparalleled.

“I am proud to call New Eastside  home to my family, as well as to our brokerage. It has been paramount to our  success, and we believe our growth will continue in large part because of the neighbors who support us and the work we do. It doesn’t get any better than this fantastic neighborhood in a city as grand as Chicago.”  

A year later — Have you evaluated what ‘brings you joy?’

by Urban Real Estate

Last February, in the heart of a cold Chicago winter, we focused on a story about organizer-extraordinaire Marie Kondo (from the Netflix hit “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”) and her philosophy of “choosing joy” when it comes to deciding on which items to get rid of while decluttering. Winter in Chicago is another perfect opportunity to embark on this endeavor. So, have you gotten that far? What have you done?

We live in a world where storage is  everything. But really, what are you storing? Items you need? Items you haven’t taken the time to purge? If you took the time to declutter your storage unit, would you add any of those items to your home? According to statistic from the blog “The Simplicity Habit,” 52% of self-storage customers rent for a year or more, and there are 48,500 storage units  in the U.S., which is more than McDonald’s & Starbucks locations combined. 

While we often talk about decluttering in real estate for different reasons (for example, to ensure a prospective buyer can “visualize” themselves in a space, so that a buyer is less focused on your life, and more focused on the home, etc.) living in a residence that looks and feels great is an all-around win.

Kondo’s six-step method is a physical and emotional journey. The importance of loving your space isn’t just about the walls you live in – but the mementos that share your home. Michael Emery, senior partner and broker with Urban Real Estate, often sees clients torn over what to do with belongings.

“We cannot reiterate this enough,” Emery said. “It’s not a esoteric principle. Living in a clearer, organized, open space brings a tenor to a home for those who  live in it, and those who visit it that is tremendously calming and appealing. Save  things from loved ones, pack away things  you might want one day, but evaluate your space and find ways or people who need them more, and create a home that is inviting and brings you happiness. Consider donating items, consigning them, or simply disposing if they have no future use to you.”

It’s important to note that whichever process you undergo to remove items that don’t bring you joy, or that you don’t need, tread with strategy. “That’s what storage facilities are for, when used strategically. Think about what could go where, what you might keep for a second home or investment property, or what could be better used by someone  else you know, and proceed confidently,” added Emery. “But have a game  plan, otherwise your storage fees over time may end up costing you more than the items are worth in their memories or their dollar value. Most importantly, become familiar with your homeowner’s insurance, as well as the policy you take from the facility, as sometimes, even the  most expensive items may not be reimbursed in a loss at the facility.” 

Contact us at Urban Real Estate for a  consult on resources we have for storing, organizing, staging, or next home/ second home opportunities at Urban- or (312) 528-9200.  

Thinking of becoming a landlord?

New laws add complexity to going at it alone

by Urban Real Estate

This past November, the Cook County Board of Commissioners adopted a set of rules known as the Just Housing Amendment, which went into effect December 31, 2019. Essentially, the tenant screening process is two-steps: First, the assessment of the tenant’s ability to pay – then, their criminal background check. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the ordinance will open the door to people with criminal records who apply for housing.

The board voted to approve the new rule 12-4, which is an amendment to the county’s existing housing ordinance. “Now, apartment owners will not be able to consider criminal backgrounds of applicants until after they already have qualified through a credit check or other screening,” reports. The new effort does not apply to sex offenders, who still can be rejected.

“Renting out a home requires a prospective landlord to abide by federal, state and local laws, often which they are not familiar with,” says Michael Emery, senior partner and broker with New Eastside real estate brokerage Urban Real Estate. “Fair housing laws serve as reminders and requirements that everyone be treated equally. The cost of not doing so can be catastrophic to the average homeowner trying to go at it alone and save a brokerage fee, rather than have a professional manage the process.”

Laws change regularly, as do penalties. Reminders of this come from such as the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) which not only prescribes what the penalty for not paying a tenant interest annually on a security deposit held is (and how it legally should be secured) but also what the interest rate is, and when it should be paid out. 

“Being a landlord in the city of Chicago has its benefits, but the ultimate value comes in retaining the services of a real estate broker to manage a process that can be tedious, cumbersome, and ultimately have legal and financial ramifications if handled poorly,” adds Emery.

Contact Urban Real Estate today, at or call us at (312) 528-9200 to help you prepare for an upcoming rental, or help evaluate your current leasing situation.

Now is the time to buy, sell, invest or rent

by Urban Real Estate

The time to move is now. The interest rates are low. The New Eastside  neighborhood is hot, although the temperature outside is not. If you are thinking of buying, selling, investing or leasing, think now.

According to a recent report, “Low mortgage rates, ris- ing household income, and a surge in  household formation among Millenni- als have significantly boosted demand  for housing over the past year,” said Mark Fleming, First American’s chief economist. 

“If you are considering buying, interest rates to finance your mortgage are  the lowest in 10 years. There are many mortgage options,” said Lynn Brahin, a broker with Urban Real Estate. “You no  longer need much money down. To- day, home ownership is more economical often times than paying rent.” 

The New Eastside longtime resident, investor and broker also recommends something she often discusses  with her clients—diversify. “Renting is a lifestyle that affords individuals to have the freedom to move easily—  but the equity earned in homeownership can afford the same resident  the opportunity to be a second-home investor,” Brahin adds.

Currently, the 60601 residential property inventory has a wide sale price range from $199,000 to more  than $11 million. Most of this neighborhood is condos. Places range in  size and condition.

Recent MRED data shows: 178 homes for sale, median sales price $260,000. Median list price $454,000, with 106 average days on the market, and 17 homes sold in in a snapshot during October and November.

The National Association of Realtors  statistics show people are now choosing less space and a shorter commute,  over a larger home far from work. People like walking to the grocery store, local restaurants, and shopping. No other  neighborhood offers the privacy of a cul-de-sac community with immediate  access to the natural wonders of Chicago: Lake Michigan, the Chicago River- walk and Chicago’s famous parks—all  steps away from world-class museums, entertainment, arts and culture. 

The average 30-year fixed mort- gage rate fell 7 basis points to 3.89  from 3.96 a week ago. 15-year fixed mortgage rates fell 7 basis points to 3.25 from 3.32 a week ago. (Current Mortgage Rates-Mortgage Interest  Rates Today, @Natalie Campisi, November 20, 2019) 

Wondering what your place is worth? Curious as to what you can afford to buy? Perplexed with all the choices around you? Trying to simplify your life? Contact your trusted advisor at Urban Real Estate at (312) 528-9200 or visit  

Development reshaping city’s skyline

by Jacqueline Covey

Several skyscrapers marching upward in New Eastside and  Streeterville will soon add thou- sands of square feet of residential,  hospitality and retail space. Vista  Tower, sisters Cirrus Condominiums and Cascade Apartments,  Tribune Tower and an upcoming hotel and apartment tower in a  location dubbed Site O will trans- form downtown Chicago’s east- ern border. For local residents  living amidst the daily hum of construction, completion of these towers is just around the corner.

Vista Tower

363 E. Upper Wacker Drive

Expected to open in 2020, Vista Tower will be the third-largest  building in the city and the tallest designed by a woman—Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang. Another first for the city is a blow-through  on the 83rd floor that helps alleviate wind pressure. The building  topped out in April and currently interior work is being completed. The 101-story structure will house 400 condos and a luxury hotel.

Cascade and Cirrus

197 N. Harbor Drive and 225 N. Columbus Drive

These sisters of Lakeshore East are still in the first of two phases, as the dirt has barely settled since the dual-groundbreaking on Sept. 18. Ted Weldon, executive general manager for Lendlease Development in Chicago, said the first stage of construction  consists of Cirrus Condominiums and Cascade Apartments,  in addition to Cascade Park. Residents will also see work being done to the pedestrian and bicycle path that connects the development to Lake Michigan under Lake Shore Drive. There’s  been interest in Cirrus since pre- sales for condos began in spring,  Weldon said. Visit or call (312) 469-8090 for an appointment.

Tribune Tower

435 N. Michigan Ave

Unveiled April 2018, the redevelopment and new construction  project at Tribune Tower began  in 2016 after Golub & Company and the Los Angeles-based  CIM Group purchased the  Gothic landmark and surrounding buildings for $240 million.  The complex will be converted to 162 condos and update the stores below.

The team also hopes to build the second-largest building  in the city. At a Nov. 19 community meeting, Streeterville  Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) and Alderman Brendan Reilly offered details of the plan after residents raised concerns about traffic congestion. Crain’s reported developers have added a  passageway connecting the south and west sides of the building. The through road will mainly serve the hotel, with drop-off lanes and short-term parking.

Site O

Nestled between Aqua and 300 E. Randolph, parcel O is expected to see action in the coming months. Plans include a 33-story luxury apartment building and a 20-story tower that will host two hotels.  

How to sell a home in the winter

by Sheetal Balani

Winter is coming. Whether my “Game of Thrones” reference made you smile, the chill of winter can translate to a challenging real estate market.  But life doesn’t stop between Thanksgiving and February. In all twelve months of the year, job changes occur, families grow, and unanticipated changes arise, and all require people to buy or sell a home.  

Spring generally is the most popular time of year to sell a property, with crowds of buyers aiming to settle into a new home before the school year begins. But housing inventory is crowded during that time of year, meaning there is more competition for buyers’ attention. Alternatively in the winter, fewer homes for sale means less competition—and winter tends to bring out the serious buyers. As a real estate broker in the Chicago residential market for nearly 16 years, I’ve had some of my best months in real estate during the holiday season. These key approaches can help home sellers maximize their chances of success.  

Clear the way. This is more for single-family homes and townhomes than for full-service condo buildings. Shovel a clear path through the snow. Be sure to take extra care to clear off the exterior stairs and distribute a layer of salt.  

Assure that the interior of your home is warm and well lit. Chicago winters are frigid, dark and dreary with short hours of daylight. Make sure the interior of your home feels bright, in stark contrast to the weather outside. Don’t turn off the heat, even if your property is vacant. Any less than 68 degrees in a cold Chicago winter could mean a less-than-ideal showing experience.  Aside from risking an expensive burst pipe repair, you could also be wasting a great showing opportunity because an otherwise interested buyer was too cold to notice your freshly updated kitchen or spacious floorplan. Consider heating your home a couple of degrees warmer than usual, and then set the temperature at normal. This will prevent the heat from kicking in during showings when the buyer is present, especially if your HVAC system is loud and noticeable.

Get your home professionally staged. Creating that home-like feeling can be difficult to do when the interior is empty, especially in the colder months. Not only does a clean, beautifully staged home signal to potential buyers that the property is well cared for, but the right staging can also help them better visualize the property as their own future home. Fire up the fireplace. If you have a fireplace, now is the time to show it off. Turn it on before the showing, for a quick and easy way to add some cozy ambiance to your place.

Price the home correctly. This is perhaps one of the most important tips for selling a home in the winter. Work with your Realtor to understand the marketplace and set a fair price for your home. Selling in the winter can be a challenge, but with the correct tools in hand, it can be a rewarding and stress-free experience.

Pumpkins at the Park Event

By Sheetal Balani

October is here.  Autumn in Chicago means days will soon be flush with fallen red and orange leaves that crunch satisfyingly underfoot.  The temperatures will cool and we’ll respond iwith chunky sweaters and pumpkin spice lattes in hand. We’ll watch The Chicago Bears defeat the Green Bay Packers and attend Oktoberfest events across the city.

Anticipation grows for the upcoming holiday season – in my opinion, among the best holidays of the year: Halloween and Thanksgiving!  

Last month, I wrote about fun events in and around Chicago to commemorate the arrival of Fall.  In the spirit of community and to celebrate the changing of the seasons, I invite you to come to get a free pumpkin, enjoy some seasonal treats, and meet your neighbors on Saturday, October 19th from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm outside at Mariano’s 4th Floor patio.  

My team and I look forward to meeting you.

Survey: It’s a good time to buy, what does that mean for you?

Urban Real Estate

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) last month released a consumer survey showing that more than half of those polled believe that this market presents a good time to buy. The Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey indicated optimism was abundant, and as income brackets increased, so did the impressions of the current market. 

When respondents were asked whether now is a good time to purchase a home, according to the organization’s release, “Of those with an income under $50,000, 54% answered “yes.” Answers in the affirmative increased as household incomes increased. In the $50,000 to $100,000 bracket, 64% said now is a good time to buy a home, and among those polled who have an income of $100,000, 72% said that it is a good time to buy.”

Michael Emery, senior partner and broker with New Eastside’s Urban Real Estate, agrees consumers are more measured in their buying decisions, for a multitude of reasons.

“While there are great opportunities on the market, locally, there are consumers who can afford to buy but still choose to rent for the flexibility it offers, as well as the ability to more easily make lifestyle or job changes,” Emery said. “We also have clients who remain cautious of the future of our economy, and aren’t as quick to initiate a change from one home to another.” 

New Eastside continues to be a draw as would-be residents relocating find a private neighborhood in the heart of the city attractive for its proximity to the lakefront, parks, transportation and shopping. Multinational companies continue to invest in downtown Chicago, and new construction paired with existing real estate, makes the neighborhood even more unique for its residential options.

If you have considered buying or selling your home, or are interested in investment opportunities, connect with your neighbors at Urban Real Estate to review your options at (312) 528-9200 or visit

Falling for Chicago

(Published Aug. 31, 2019)

By Sheetal Balani

The end of summer doesn’t mean the end of adventure in Chicago

Monday, Sept. 23 means the end of summer. 

But don’t panic. 

For some, this transition from summer to fall can be bittersweet. The warmest days of the year are behind us, school is back in session and the Chicago rooftop scene will soon announce their dreaded last call.   

But there are a lot of positives too. For those that are team #PSL, pumpkin spice everything will ubiquitously pop up on menus everywhere.  

And with that, I share my list of favorite activities in and around Chicago this time of year, as well as what I’m looking forward to this Fall in particular:

  • Bengston’s Pumpkin Fest officially opens its doors on Sept. 13. Choose the perfect pumpkin, eat hot apple cider doughnuts, get lost in the corn maze, and take a wagon ride.
  • Fall Fest at Lincoln Park Zoo — If you can’t make the trek out to Bengston’s, I recommend Fall Fest. Fridays to Sundays from Sept. 27 to Oct. 27, watch live professional pumpkin carvers sculpt 400-pound pumpkins into elaborate goblins and ghouls.
  • Chicago Gourmet celebrates all things food and entertainment.  Chicago celebrity chef cooking demos, mixology seminars, book signings, and lots of amazing food and drinks in Millennium Park, from Sept. 24 to 29.
  • Highly anticipated RPM On The Water is slated to open fall of 2019.  This newest installment from the RPM team will deliver panoramic views, in addition to their seafood-centric menu, on the Chicago River … yet another reason to love The Chicago Riverwalk!

For me, this transition to fall simply means back to the structure.  As much as my family and I enjoyed every bit of the summer, we all are looking forward to getting back to our routines — the anticipation, and excitement of moving forward with the new season.  

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