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Related Realty Chicago
Chicago’s premiere privately-held full-service real estate company
Chicago’s premiere privately-held full-service real estate company


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It’s peak rooftop season in Chicago, attracting pleasure hounds and dreamers alike for decadent nights and lazy days on top of the city…it’s always been that way.

 Flappers dancing on top of Chicago Hotel, 1926

Well, almost –

Chicagoans have long had a love affair with their rooftops. In cities like Miami and Los Angeles, rooftops are obviously a big deal because they are used all year-round, but here in the Windy City – it’s a much bigger deal. Perhaps it’s because of the limited time in which we can enjoy the weather, or those unobstructed views of our magnificent skyline, the stars so close that you feel as though you could simply pluck one out of the sky, or maybe it’s just our love of a good party. Regardless, rooftops are the ultimate luxury of Chicago living and lifestyle. So, it comes with no surprise that today’s hotels and residential developers continue the tradition of reinventing ways to feed this need of ours to climb on top of tall buildings and hang out.

It’s the American dream.          

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    However, near the end of the nineteenth century, the only things that hung on a Chicago rooftop was wet laundry. At the time, real estate developers had begun to invest in apartment buildings for the rising urban-middle class, who were flocking to the city. It was the new American dream. However, this emerging demographic was not yet comfortable living in the city, on top of each other. They valued their privacy. Coming from the country, they were accustomed to living with ample space between them and their nearest neighbor. Accordingly, the new buildings were built with private entrances and staircases, in order to limit any possibility of stumbling into awkward conversations. Even balconies were rare in these buildings, and seen at the time mostly in working-class, immigrant housing.

Then, at the turn of the century, and with the advent of the elevator, buildings began to reach for the skys’. It became the new status symbol of this emerging class. Grand apartment buildings came with grander views, and rooftops and balconies were designed for full advantage. Laundry moved to the basement, and we flocked higher and higher, not only to frolic but to enjoy the fresh air and city views. Developers of the day, soon began to make use of a structure’s roof, to offer leisure activities and entertainment. It was before the advent of movies, when a fad called, theater rooftop gardens, was fashionable. It had become a staple of summertime extravagance at the time, promising entertainment and spectacle. A song called Rooftop Garden Two Step, and outlandish vaudeville acts, which showcased rooftop performers, were all the rage. During intermission, flappers imbibed and danced wildly on the buildings’ rooftops. These decadent parties went on for decades.

The friendly confines of Wrigley.            

Wrigleyville Rooftop Viewing back in the day

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It was around 1914 when the rooftops around Wrigley Field were first used to view Cubs baseball games. This was before big business stepped in of course, when building owners would simply invite family and friends to take in a ball game from their roof. These were small, casual gatherings. Neighborhood folks, would perch atop of what’s come to famously be known as, Wrigleyville Rooftops, lining Sheffield and Waveland Avenues. Imagine sitting on a folding chair,  a cooler filled with beer, watching Cubs gameday action in 1915. Decades later of course, an invite became an increasingly coveted prospect and building owners began constructing more and more sophisticated seating arrangements, building bleachers and charging admission to their buildings. This did not bode well with the Cubs organization at first, but after some legal entanglements, they are now officially endorsed, and the Wrigleyville Rooftops are considered a structural paradise.

Caviar wishes & airship dreams –  

Promotional picture, InterContinental Chicago, 1929

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In the 1920’s the city was crazy for airships. The talk of the time was that Chicago would actually become some kind of airhub for the newest dirigibles technology. These were “lighter-than-air steerable aircrafts” that floated around the skies like ocean liners (pre-Hindenburg.) Zeppelin loading docks would span the city’s rooftop…
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Take a cue from the past when working with a private chef. It will nourish you and make your dinner parties the talk of the town.

Slim Aarons, “Dining at the Wilmonts”


“I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them.”
-Nora Ephron

It may seem like a luxury, but really, it’s not.

It may happen in the middle of planning your next dinner party. You find yourself drifting off into an alternative universe, one where you are living like a modern-day version of Lady Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey. You’re barely aware of the lavish dinner preparations at hand, and not a bit worried. Your team of professionals are preparing a menu that you tasted and approved a month ago. Instead, you are the consummate hostess, greeting your guests as they assemble in the “drawing-room,” gentlemen arriving in dress suits, escorting ladies in beautiful dresses. And when it’s time, you announce that dinner is served and lead your guests to a perfectly-set table with complete confidence and grace.

Or, perhaps your fantasy is about waking up on a late summer morning, intent on making fresh eggplant salad for your brood. The sun shines brightly as you admire your lush kitchen garden. You pick gorgeous, fresh basil and a perfectly ripe eggplant, and some oh-so-green lettuce, from your perfectly composed dirt. Produce in hand, you feel a bit like the Hamptons’ goddess herself, Ina Garten, effortlessly preparing lunch for her husband Jeffrey.

But reality bites – whether it’s that empty space where your perfect kitchen garden should go, or its remembrances of your last dinner party, the one where you were still making the sauce and applying a last coat of nail polish when one of your guests inevitably arrived on time.

And it’s then that you decide. It’s time to hire a private chef. And you should. It is totally worth it.

Why be in it alone?

The food options at our fingertips in Chicago are endless, feeding our appetites both healthy and not. But you can only go out to eat so often, or order so much take out – really, with all the waste “to go” creates, its’ enough already. In 2018, like in the days’ of yore, in order to keep a proper kitchen, and consistently prepare, nourishing and exciting meals for yourself, your family and friends – you need help.

Today, eating is still very much about culinary indulgence, and the kind of happiness that comes from having a great meal and good conversation with family and friends. And yet, these days, it’s also about food values and wellness. Thank goodness.

So with higher expectations for ourselves, and less time to execute, it is not at all surprising that more people today are choosing to bring the best of the restaurant, and sometimes the chefs’ themselves home with them – by hiring a private chef.

Today’s private chefs are artists, experts in all types of cuisine, and in many cases, also skilled in floral and table design. They have studied at the best culinary institutions, understand nutrition and farming, and know where to purchase the most ethically sourced meats and local produce. These modern day godfreys, can make your dinner party the talk of the town and also strictly facilitate your food goals.

Here are few things to consider when finding and working with a private chef.

It’s not just about the food, it’s chemistry.

The key of course, is finding the right person. Just as the food should match your preferences, the chef should be a good match for your personality. He or she should also be private and discreet. Unlike a personal chef, who will have multiple clients, a private chef is going to be up close and personal with your family and friends—and in many cases living and traveling with you. They will be front and center to both your whims, as well as those little personality quirks that make family dinners so fun. So spend time together first. Try out a few meals, and like with anything, iron out your expectations. At best, these relationships should be a collaboration, and the process consultative.

Mindful eating, aka food values

You want a food partner, one that understands, not only your style, and what you’re looking to achieve, but someone who will help facilitate your expectations when you’re there and when you are not. A private chef is responsible, not only with preparing your meals, but for costing ingredients, sourcing product, and planning menus tailored to your wants and needs. For many in 2018, being conscious and aware of where food comes from, whether it has been sustainably and ethically sourced, is of utmost importance. Also, for many, the same goes for having a deep understanding of how what you eat affects your health and wellness. You want someone, who not only shares your values, but someone that you can trust to facilitate. You don’t want to worry about where your vegetables are coming from…
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Chicago Quality of Life – Abdicating the Urban Grind
Chicago Quality of Life – The latest trends in wellness amenities allow us to not only find our zen, but build it into our daily routine without so much as stepping a foot outside.

“Happiness is just a moment before you need more happiness.” -Don Draper

So, you can’t buy happiness, but wellness? Not so fast.

We’ve heard it all before – we are more distracted than ever. Too connected, not connected enough. Forever tied to work, but struggling to find the time for ourselves. And still, we know that not taking that time is an unhealthy and unfulfilling way to live. It can take a toll on our appearance and emotional well-being, and can sometimes feel like an ever-retreating goal, making our quest to maintain a clear, calm mind, and a healthy body seem insurmountable.

And so, it comes with no surprise that the trend for wellness amenities inside private homes and developments, continues to be on the rise. These state-of-the-art sanctuaries allows us to more easily find our zen from the comfort of our own homes.

It’s like a five-star hotel experience in your own home.

Consumers’ expectations have long surpassed the home gym of ‘ole. No longer are the days of a few dumbells and a solitary rowing machine sitting sadly in the corner of a building gym. Remember those?

NO, we want much, much, more. Luxury developments have become like fortresses’, with wellness amenity programs’ that almost always include a state-of-the-art fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, yoga and meditation sanctuaries and some kind of lush rooftop space that extends your living area far beyond your apartment. Other cool wellness perks may include; spa treatments, salt grottos, farm-to-table lounges, vitamin c infused water and state of the art water and air purification systems.

Luxury meets lap pool, One Bennett Park. Related Realty

Developers have been listening.

Just as concepts of wellness infiltrated other industries, like food & travel, it is similarly de rigueur in luxury residential real estate, and shows no signs of abating. We spend so much of our time indoors that access to these kinds of amenities can have a profound effect on our health, energy, and levels of stress and productivity. How can it not? So, in order to keep up with these changing expectations, developers and architects are going far beyond the visuals of beautiful design when developing new properties. Of course, they are savvy to the benefits of building for the health of their residents, in part because it helps attract luxury buyers and renters. In Chicago, where our weather is so unpredictable, it is even more of a luxury to be able to work out, practice yoga, and swim, regardless of the time of year, all without leaving your building.

So, whether you are seeking to purge those tensions in the pool, spa, or yoga room, or simply be, amid the glorious landscapes of your own private park or rooftop garden, here are five must-have wellness amenities that Chicagoans really shouldn’t have to leave their building to enjoy.

Just breathe you’re home.


A swimming pool is the ultimate creature comfort anywhere, but luxury in Chicago can be defined by having a pool to enjoy year round. Pools are not uncommon in California or Florida where the sun is out most of the year, but the appeal is more exotic in Chicago. The terrace pool at One Bennett Park (451 E. Grand Ave) is a splendid setting, and overlooks the buildings’ exclusive private park, designed by superstar landscape architect, Michael Van Valkenburgh. A glorious spot, whether to enjoy a swim, the sun or some shade in the seating area, this will appeal to anyone wanting the ultimate urban oasis. Other wellness amenities include a full-service spa and salon, an exercise facility with a fitness center, Pilates studio and an indoor lap pool.

The terrace pool at One Bennett Park, Related Realty.


Want to live like a grown up version of Eloise with your own state of the art gym, pool, and array of spa treatments just a short elevator ride away? Yes please, who doesn’t? The Waldorf Astoria (11 E Walton St) offers its residences access to its world-class spa & health club which boasts a 14,000 square foot spa & fitness center, lap pool, and a catalogue …
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Living in Chicago: ESCAPING THE CITY, IN THE CITY. Rediscovering secret Chicago parks.

Rediscovering secret Chicago parks. Oases designed for us by some of the greatest landscape architects of all time.

Living in Chicago, it’s hard to forget that the city is famous for its’ architecture. Those who imagined and reimagined the landscape were visionaries, superstar architects and designers, such as William Le Baron Jenney, Louis Sullivan, Bruce Graham, William Holabird, and of course, Frank Lloyd Wright. These luminaries made their mark throughout the city. Their vision around us at every turn.

But, we are also a city of parks. I mean, our motto is literally, “City in a Garden,” translated from the Latin, “Urbo Hurti.” And we seem to be guided by it. With a park system made up of an astounding 8,000 acres of open space, wherever you are, an oasis of spectacular beauty and history is never far away.

Chicago has long been on the forefront of landscape architecture. From Jen Jensen’s Prairie-era masterpieces, Frederick Law Olmsted’s iconic lakefront parks, and Daniel Burnham’s masterful city planning, to prolific designers such as Alfred Caldwell and modernist Dan Kiley, our pedigree is long. So, while we are known for being the birthplace of the skyscraper, it’s our city’s park system that is quietly heralded as one of America’s greatest.

It wasn’t always this way. At first we had the motto, but no parks to speak of.

Jackson Park, 1891, before World’s’ Fair in 1893. Courtesy of the Chicago Public Library’s Special Collection.

Necessity is the mother of invention. A quick history –

Not wanting to be overshadowed by the creation of New York’s Central Park, it was in the mid 1800s’ when a group of visionary citizens rallied for the creation of Chicago’s first parks, starting with Lincoln. It was then, in late 1800’s, that the idea of neighborhood parks started to take hold. It was a time of great industrial growth and wealth in the city, along with extreme poverty, families living in overrun and dilapidated tenement houses. These smaller parks were born in large part to serve social purposes, like providing fresh milk, public playgrounds for children to play, or as a place to get a hot meal. They were meant to transform marginalized areas into beacons of civility. Jen Jensen, along with Jane Addams, founder of the Hull House, and other influencers of the time, championed for these public spaces, and went on to identify a series of forest preserves’ across western Chicago that were dedicated to the creation of our first neighborhood parks. They encircled the city in a green band and would come to be known as the Emerald Necklace.

As the 20th century unfolded, Jen Jensen designed four massive neighborhood parks; Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Douglas Park and Columbus Park, while Alfred Caldwell designed The Lily Pond and Dan Kiley followed in the 1960’s with more formal gardens, such as The South Garden. One thing they all valued, was preservation and conservation of the land, and most important, that all citizens had a place to play, rest, meet and organize in an open green space. They felt it was the rights of all citizens to enjoy the city’s parks- and enjoy we do –

“There is nothing so American as our national parks.”
Franklin Roosevelt

Bennett Park, One Bennett Park. Related Realty

And now in 2018, with a resurgence in landscape architecture around the city, comes a new generation of world-class designers, like Michael Van Valkenburgh, Carol Ross Barney and Jeanne Gang, helping to shape a Chicago of the future. They are innovative and driven by similar values as Olmsted, Jensen, Caldwell and Kiley before them, designing urban parks and streetscapes, urban trails and playground with an eye towards making our city’s ecosystems healthier and more biodiverse.

“I don’t so much think of a park as an escape from the city as I think of it as an escape in the city.”
– Michael Van Valkenburgh , Designer, One Bennett Park

Take a pause between your busy day, amid the trees and gardens of these unique public spaces, gifted to us by our predecessors. It will surely transform your day.

Landscape Design by Alfred Caldwell

The sounds of birds singing and waterfalls breaking is just the kind of respite you need from a busy day. Nestled away in Lincoln Park, The Lily Pool is an almost otherworldly space in the middle of the concrete jungle. It was designed in the late 1930’s by Alfred Caldwell. He envisioned a refuge from the city, intending it to resemble “a river meandering through a great Midwestern prairie.” And it does. It remains one of the best examples of prairie-style landscape architecture which was what Caldwell intended. He was inspired by Jen Jensen’s use of the environment. His understanding of sky, the wind, the movement of water and seasons. Chicagoans flocked to the gardens for decades, which eventually took a toll on the space. Caldwell …
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Chicago Summer Festival season is here. Find out what Chicago has to offer!

JUNE – Chicago Summer Festival Schedule

Grant Park Summer Music Festival, JUNE 13 – AUGUST 18

What does summer in Chicago look like? Ten weeks of classical music performed by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus under the stars. Our season begins June 13—Don’t miss a thrilling summer of music!

Grant Park Chicago Summer Music Festival

Taste of Randolph, JUNE 15 – 17

Commemorating the iconic street festival’s 22nd Anniversary, Star Events and WLCO will bring together the biggest and brightest names in Chicago dining, featuring over 16 restaurants exemplary for delectable menus and irresistibly unique flavors. Silver Wrapper has curated a list of the nation’s hottest up-and-coming bands and musicians, as well as the biggest names in Chicago house music, performing on two stages and a DJ stage, to entertain guests on their culinary adventure.

Star Events – Taste Of Randolph

Chicago Pride Fest, JUNE 16 – 17

The weekend before the 2018 Chicago Pride Parade makes it’s way through Boystown, the Chicago Pride Fest® starts the celebration! Chicago Pride Fest®, June 16-17, 2018, is an exciting two-day street festival held the weekend leading up to the Chicago Pride Parade with up to 100,000 expected to attend, celebrating LGBTQ life, culture and community.

The festival features live music by popular artists, 3 stages, food and drink, 100+ arts/craft and merchant vendors, DJ’s and dancing, drag shows, pet parade, sponsor booths and more.

Northalsted – Pridefest

Gold Coast Art Fair, JUNE 16 – 17

Incredible artwork, live music, great food and fun activities for kids make the Gold Coast Art Fair a destination for all! See the masters at work with live art demos and speed-painting taking place throughout the weekend. Bottle & Bottega will be offering 3 classes a day. Sign up & Register below for a spot!

AmdurProductions – Gold Coast Art Fair

Country LakeShake Music Festival, JUNE 22 – 24

Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line and Blake Shelton will headline Chicago’s fourth annual Country LakeShake. The music festival runs June 22-24 at the Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island.

The initial lineup includes performances by Lee Brice, Billy Currington, Russell Dickerson, Jillian Jacqueline and more. Additional acts will be announced in the coming months. – Country Lakeshake Returns to Chicago

Chicago Food Truck Fest, JUNE 23 – 24

Food trucks are intricately woven into American history. Starting with the Chuck wagon stemming from the “Father of the Texas Panhandle,” Charles Goodnight. In 1866, Goodnight, a cattle herder, realized the difficultly to cook proper meals during cattle drives. He took a sturdy old United States Army Wagon and constructed interior shelving and drawers. He then stocked the wagon with tableware and utensils, spices and medical supplies, including castor oil and quinine. The American Food Truck was born.

Food trucks today are eons away from the original Chuck wagons but one thing still remains. We still love food trucks! We realized the joy people received each day from eating from their favorite food truck. This lead us to create the Chicago Food Truck Festival continuing an world tradition.

Chicago Food Truck Fest

Pride Parade, JUNE 24

The 2018 Chicago Pride Parade has nearly reached its 50th anniversary, and there’s a lot to celebrate. The event has grown from a small parade in Boystown to a thriving Chicago tradition that brings more than one million people together from around the world. The event is one of the largest gay pride parades in the country.

The Chicago Pride Fest will kick off all the exciting LGBTQ events over the next few weeks. The street festival will be held Saturday, June 16, and Sunday, June 17, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Halsted Street from Addison to Grace Street in Boystown.

Windy City Ribfest-Uptown, JUNE 29 – JUL 1

It’s a saucy summer happening! From tasty slabs (and sides) to a smokin’ music lineup, this pre-Fourth of July party in the eclectic Uptown neighborhood brings its A-game on when it returns for its 10th anniversary year!

Beyond the flavorful offerings of top local and national ribbers and cool summer tunes, this popular three-day fest also features arts & crafts plus an activity area for kids and families.

And with the vibrant Broadway-Lawrence intersection boasting acclaimed Chicago music venues that include The Green Mill, Aragon Ballroom and Riviera nightclub, Windy City Ribfest is the perfect urban destination for both daytime and evening fun

ChicagoEvents – Windy City Ribfest

JULY – Chicago Summer Festival Schedule

Fourth of July Fireworks at Navy Pier, JULY 4

Navy Pier is preparing to light up the Chicago skyline with a fireworks extravaganza Tuesday that’s part of its annual Independence Day celebration. It’s the city’s only official lakefront fireworks show and will feature a 15-…
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New CTA station, covered Metra tracks for Related’s riverfront Mega Development

After breaking cover in October, the massive 62-acre development known as ‘The 78’ was the topic of a formal community meeting on Thursday evening.

Presentations from developer Related Midwest and architectural master planner Skidmore, Owings & Merrill outlined new details of the plan to transform the vacant riverfront parcel between Chicago’s South Loop and Chinatown into a new mixed-use neighborhood.

Expected to take two decades and more than $5 billion to complete, The 78 is one of the largest single developments in the city’s history.

Here are some key takeaways from the meeting:

Three new roads

Considering that the site faces natural and man-made barriers on all sides, it’s little surprise that the developer’s first order of business is to improve access. Related plans a trio of new roadways.

Up first will be the long-discussed Wells-Wentworth Connector which is already under construction just south of the site. As its name suggests, the north-south roadway will connect Wells Street’s South Loop dead-end to Chinatown’s Wentworth Avenue.

To bring connectivity to the site from low-rise Dearborn Park development to the east, 15th Street will be extended from Clark Street to the new stretch of Wells. This east-west route will dip under the realigned Metra tracks (more on that in a moment).

East of the Wells-Wentworth extension, the development team proposes a second north-south road in the form of a new “LaSalle Street” running from the elevated level of Roosevelt Road down to the 15th Street extention.

Improved vehicular circulation is expected pay dividends for The 78 as well as for existing businesses and residents currently isolated from downtown and the river.

Major Metra and CTA improvements

Arguably the biggest challenge facing the site are the Metra tracks running along its eastern edge. Related’s bold solution moves the tracks west, away from Clark Street.

The shift will allow Clark Street—currently walled-off and auto-focused—to be re-imagined as a more walkable, urban street with active use. The relocated Metra tracks would be decked over to improve site cohesiveness. Enclosing the rail line comes with the added benefit of improved air quality and reduced noise.

A new CTA Red Line station is also in the cards for The 78—filling the mile-long gap in service between the Roosevelt and Cermak-Chinatown stops.

It’s all about the river

While just about every recent development along the Chicago River touts the waterway as an attractive amenity, The 78 takes its relationship to the river to another level.

In a nod to the past, a seven-acre crescent shaped park mirrors the path the river originally followed before it was straightened in the 1920s. To draw people towards the current waterfront, The 78 proposes a number of “open space threads” cutting between and even through some of the buildings.

At river’s edge, the development features a 100-foot-wide, half-mile-long riverwalk that takes lessons from Chicago’s downtown riverwalk. Dedicated “lanes” will be set aside for dining, traversing (think jogging and biking), and waterside lingering.

Building heights step down from Clark Street as they approach the river, maximizing views while giving the waterfront promenade a more human scale. A future water taxi stop is also planned.

The 78 is surprisingly low density

For the development’s staggering 13 million square feet of mixed-use space, The 78 is seeking a surprisingly modest zoning designation of DX-5. For comparison, the Riverline/Southbank development under construction to the immediate north is working with denser DX-7 zoning.

The 78 achieves this with its abundance of open space and a plan that keeps the tallest towers—expected to reach as high as 950 feet—thin and narrow. The final design, number, and orientation of the high-rise buildings is still being worked out.

Landing a corporate tenant is key

The South Loop has no shortage of all-residential developments in the works. To set The 78 apart from the crowd and make the site a vibrant 24-hour neighborhood, Related is committed to attracting major companies and organizations before it brings in residences and hotel rooms.

Getting corporate partners into the site is also vital to the success of The 78’s Discovery Partners Institute—an innovation center and technology incubator from the University of Illinois. Slated for the development’s southern edge, the DPI aims to collaborate hand-in-hand with The 78’s future corporate tenants.

Filling office space is key to the project’s timing as well. While the Wells-Wentworth extension and other infrastructure improvements are expected to begin in July, The 78’s developer is “talking to a number of people” in regards to phase two and beyond.

What about Amazon?

With regards to future tenants, it’s no secret that The 78 hopes to land Amazon’s prized HQ2 sec…
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Selling Your Home? These 7 Renovations Offer the Best Bang for Your Buck

Not all upgrades are equal

If you’re like most Americans, your home is probably your biggest investment. You want that investment to perform as well as possible, so if you think you may sell your home some time soon, it makes sense to do as much as you can to boost its value.

Depending upon your situation, this can mean doing some home renovations so your house becomes more attractive to potential buyers.

But, while upgrades can boost your home price and help your home sell faster, not all renovations have an equal impact on what your home is worth. To ensure you’re making renovations that will actually pay off, read on to find out some upgrades that give you the most bang for your buck.

1. Improving energy efficiency

While most homeowners think upgrades that improve the look of their home will pay off, improving your home’s efficiency may actually make a bigger difference. In fact, a survey found homeowners can recoup 116% of the costs of attic insulation. And attic insulation is just one of many upgrades that improve efficiency.

“While renovating the kitchen and updating the bathrooms are both great improvements that can increase property value, making energy efficient upgrades will give you more bang for your buck,” according to Sacha Ferrandi, founder of Source Capital Funding, Inc. a real estate finance company. “As the number of energy efficient homes continues to rise, first time buyers and renters are beginning to favor these upgraded homes over traditional homes due to the potential long-term savings.”

Ferrandi recommends upgrading HVAC, water heaters, and windows — these changes cost less than solar panels and are more likely to provide a positive return on investment when the time comes to sell. When you sell, you can recoup around 73% of the costs of upgrading 10 old windows with new ones, and your energy bills will be lower in the time before your move.

If you make energy efficient upgrades, make sure your realtor markets your home appropriately. You can even consider providing copies of your utility bills to potential buyers so they can see how low ongoing costs will be.

2. Sprucing up your exterior

You only get one chance to make a first impression when a buyer pulls up to your home. That’s why Holden Lewis, home analyst at NerdWallet believes the best bang for your buck comes from projects that enhance curb appeal.

“Real estate agents say that the first impression counts the most,” Lewis said. “And the first impression comes from what the buyer sees when the car pulls up to the curb.”

Making changes to your home’s exterior doesn’t have to cost a fortune. “Curb appeal can be improved by some basic efforts such as power washing the home’s exterior,” advised Rhoda Wheeler a realtor with Hoffman Real Estate Group in the DC Metro area. Alternatively, Allen Johnson, realtor and leader of the AJ Team at Keller Williams Realty, recommends painting the home’s front door. “It cost less than $200 and it’s the first impression as the buyer’s enter the home.”

Improvements to landscaping were also recommended by Wheeler, Johnson, and Lewis. “Think about refreshing mulch, trimming shrubs, and planting seasonal colorful plants. These small investments create value when selling a home,” according to Johnson. In fact while the statistics vary, most evidence shows you’ll get more than a 100% return on investment for money spent on landscaping.

Making more major upgrades to your home’s exterior can also pay off. Studies have shown you can recoup around 93% of the costs of adding stone veneer, around 91% of the costs of a new garage door, and around 91% of the costs of a new entry door.

3. Budget-friendly kitchen remodels

Roh Habibi, realtor and star of Million Dollar Listing, San Francisco, lists landscaping as the number one remodel that pays off — but the kitchen is second on his list. Habibi describes the kitchen as the “heart of the home,” and recommends focusing on colors and textures when making upgrades. “You don’t need to break the bank for the appliances,” he said.

Most experts agree a kitchen is key to improving a home’s value and Kevin Deselms, a realtor with RE/MAX Alliance in Golden, CO, advised that if a seller has only enough money to renovate one room, the kitchen is the room to pick. “Kitchens are the focal point of almost every home showing and an impressive kitchen will almost always make the difference between an average offer and the maximum,” Deselms said.

Investing in the kitchen makes a lot of sense, as studies have shown as many as 80% of homebuyers list the kitchen as their favorite room. When your kitchen is updated, buyers may also be more forgiving of other outdated areas. “I’ve found that my clients are more likely to tolerate an outdated bathroom than an outdated kitchen,” Maria Tabakova, an agent with Triplemint said.

You don’t…
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First look at two-tower plan for Spire site: ‘There will not be a shot of Chicago that doesn’t have these buildings in them’

More than three years after taking title to the land where the audacious Chicago Spire was once envisioned, and more than two years after soliciting designs from a half-dozen architecture firms, Related Midwest on Tuesday unveiled a bold plan for the waterfront site.

The long-awaited vision for the 2.2-acre site along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, unveiled in the first community meeting for the project, is toned down a bit from the 2,000-foot-tall Spire plan that stirred emotions but never advanced beyond a 76-foot-deep foundation hole. The design, by One World Trade Center architect David Childs, includes a south tower rising 1,100 feet and an 850-foot north tower.

The development is now called simply 400 Lake Shore Drive.

Although the site has been divided into two residential towers, the project remains ambitious and complex. Related Midwest said it plans to build both towers while simultaneously building a four-level podium below them, which will include levels for vehicle entrances, parking, meeting rooms and a ballroom.

“What we wanted to do here was push the absolute envelope of what we thought was achievable and buildable in Chicago, and get right to the edge of it and more,” Related Midwest President Curt Bailey said ahead of Tuesday’s meeting. “We want to build the best, most visionary, architecturally significant project that’s financeable and achievable.”

The painstaking process to reinvent the site near Navy Pier, which began when Related Midwest took control of the site in 2014, took shape when Childs, who is based in Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s New York office, was enlisted from outside the initial group of potential designers.

The taller of the two towers would be shorter than just four existing Chicago buildings: Willis Tower (1,451 feet), Trump International Hotel & Tower (1,389 feet), the Aon Center (1,136 feet) and the former John Hancock Center (1,128 feet). That ranking will change when the 1,191-foot Vista Tower, under construction in the Lakeshore East development near the Spire site, is completed in 2020 and becomes Chicago’s third-tallest building.

Another tower proposed nearby, as part of the Tribune Tower redevelopment, would be 1,422 feet tall.

The Tribune on May 11 first reported Related’s plans for two big towers. But until Tuesday’s community meeting, renderings had not been shared publicly.

Childs’ design is for similar-looking towers framing North Water Street, built at offset angles on the site. Each tower would have dramatic setbacks as it thins upward, creating large outdoor terraces for about 20 percent of each building’s residential units. Exterior elements include terra cotta.

Artist renderings show two towers proposed on the former Chicago Spire site, now called 400 Lake Shore Drive. (Related Midwest)

The extensive use of setbacks is a design unique to Chicago — yet the plan is also, in the developer’s view, more achievable than the 2,000-foot-tall behemoth once drawn up for the site.

“We’re not trying to set new records for height,” Bailey said.

But Bailey added: “We talk a lot about legacy, and there will not be a shot of Chicago that doesn’t have these buildings in them. Every shot from the east will have this front and center. So we’ve taken this assignment very seriously.”

The plan still must gain city zoning approval and financing before becoming a reality.

The south tower would have 300 condominiums atop a 175-room luxury hotel. The north tower would include 550 apartments. The towers would be built 150 feet apart, atop a four-level parking and amenities podium. The top of the platform, rising above Lake Shore Drive traffic, would serve as an outdoor amenities area. The project’s 750 parking spaces would be accessible from Water Street and a ramp on and off Lake Shore Drive.

The proposed development is less jaw-dropping than Santiago Calatrava’s soaring, corkscrewlike design once dreamed for the site.

Developer Christopher Carley’s Fordham Spire plan, which later morphed into Irish developer Garrett Kelleher’s Chicago Spire development, called for up to 1,200 condos. But after selling 395 units and digging the foundation, construction stopped in 2008 amid a global financial crisis. Related bought the delinquent bank debt on the property in 2013 and along with other creditors forced Kelleher’s firm into bankruptcy.

Part of the foundation — as well as an eight-story-deep retention system already built around the entire site — can be used to support Related’s construction, Bailey said. But because it’s now a two-tower plan, some of Chicago’s infamous hole likely would be filled.

Related initially considered taller, single-tower designs for the site. But the developer didn’t want the architecture to be dictated by the huge hole. “Instead of trying to bastardize the de…
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A Bold New Vision: Related Midwest Unveils Plans for a New Waterfront Site Along Chicago River

Related Midwest Unveils Plans for 400 Lake Shore Drive

It was nearly four years ago that Related Midwest took title to the land where the Chicago Spire was once destined. Earlier this month, the developer unveiled its visionary plans for the 2.2 acre run along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, at the first community meeting dedicated to the project.

“There will not be a shot of Chicago that doesn’t have these buildings in them.” – Curt Bailey, Related Midwest President

The two sister towers at 400 Lake Shore Drive, as proposed by Related Midwest and designed by architect David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, are seen at center. A $10 million donation to the Chicago Park District would launch the construction of DuSable Park, located on a 3.3-are peninsula immediately east of 400 Lake Shore Drive. Related Midwest Rendering.

A First Look.

The development, which is now referred to as 400 Lake Shore Drive, was originally planned as a single tower. Related decided that the site will instead be divided into two residential towers, not wanting the architecture to be simply dictated by the city’s infamous hole. “Instead of trying to bastardize the design to fit what is in place, we said we’re going to take the most beautiful buildings we can design and we’ll see what we can utilize” from the Spire foundation, Bailey said. Related Midwest plans to build the towers simultaneously, which will include levels for vehicle entrances, parking, meeting rooms and a ballroom.

A rendering of the proposed motor court at 400 Lake Shore Drive, proposed by Related Midwest and designed by architect David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Related Midwest Rendering.

The Architecture.

The highly-anticipated plans are being designed by One World Trade Center architect, David Childs. His designs are for similar looking towers that frame North Water Street and are built with breathtaking setbacks as the building thins upward. This will allow for large outdoor terraces for 20% of the residential units. Exterior design elements will include terracotta and intricate metal details. An ode to traditional Chicago architecture.“What we wanted to do here was push the absolute envelope of what we thought was achievable and buildable in Chicago, and get right to the edge of it and more,” Related Midwest President Curt Bailey. “We want to build the best, most visionary, architecturally significant project that’s financeable and achievable.”

A detail of the facade of the proposed towers at 400 Lake Shore Drive. Both buildings will be constructed of glass and terra cotta, with intricate metal detailing. Related Midwest Rendering.

A View from the Top.

The south tower, will rise 1,100 feet, with an 850 foot north tower. The latter will be shorter than only four existing Chicago buildings: Willis Tower (1,451 feet), Trump International Hotel & Tower (1,389 feet), the Aon Center (1,136 feet) and the former John Hancock Center (1,128 feet).
“We’re not trying to set new records for height,” Bailey said. But. He added, “We talk a lot about legacy, and there will not be a shot of Chicago that doesn’t have these buildings in them. Every shot from the east will have this front and center. So we’ve taken this assignment very seriously.”

The two sister towers located at 400 Lake Shore Drive proposed by Related Midwest and designed by architect David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill feature slender, cascading silhouettes designed to create breathtaking city-to-lake and lake-to-city vistas while transforming the downtown skyline. Related Midwest Rendering.

The Residents.

The south tower will have 300 condominiums atop a 175 room luxury hotel and the north tower will include 550 apartments. They will be built 150 feet apart, set on top of a parking ( 750 parking spaces will be accessible from Water Street and a ramp on and off Lake Shore Drive,) and an amenities podium. The top of the platform, will rise above Lake Shore Drive traffic, and serve as an outdoor amenities area.

A view of the proposed riverwalk adjacent to 400 Lake Shore Drive. A portion of the project would be the completion of DuSable Founders Way, creating a landscaped pedestrian experience from Michigan Avenue. to Lake Michigan. This public extension of the Chicago Riverwalk would pass along the 400 Lake Shore Drive site, under Lake Shore Drive and out to the new DuSable Park. Related Midwest Rendering.

Related also plans to contribute $10 million toward the creation of the long-planned DuSable Park and will build riverwalk extensions to link it to the development.
Construction is set to begin by late next summer, with towers being completed in 2023.

“We want to build the best, most visionary, architecturally significant project that’s financeable and achievable.” – Curt Bailey, Related Midwest President

Related Midwest’s o…
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Ready to Sell Your Home? 7 Budget-Friendly Renovation Ideas that Attract Home Buyers


When it comes to selling your home, you want to consider what renovations are most attractive to the home buyer. Small, less costly improvements, can have a bigger impact than you may think, and increase your odds of getting your selling price. Ask your Related Broker for help in deciding which upgrades will best meet the unique expectations of buyers in your market.

1. Be more efficient.

Improving energy efficiency in your home is not the sexiest of all upgrades, but arguably the most important. It increases your property value and lowers your own energy bills, while making your home more appealing for new buyers, who have come to expect it. Try upgrading water heaters, windows and HVAC first — these changes cost less than say, solar panels, and are more likely to provide a return on investment when you decide to sell.

TIP: Consider sharing copies of your utility bills with potential buyers so they can compare annual costs.

2. It’s all about that curb appeal.

First impressions are everything when selling your home. Luckily, improving your curb appeal, does not need to cost a fortune. Improvements can be made with some basic DIY projects. Try power washing your exterior, and getting out your garden tools to refresh mulch, trim shrubs, and plant some seasonal plants.

TIP: If you’re really on a budget, consider adding a fresh coat of paint to your front door, or even adding house numbers. Oh, and don’t forget a clean welcome mat!

3. The Kitchen: It’s the heart of the home.

The kitchen tends to be the focal point of your home. So, when your kitchen is updated, buyers tend to be more forgiving of other, more outdated rooms, and you don’t need to break your budget to make substantial change. Consider minor improvements to start, such as painting the cabinets, adding new cabinet doors, or upgrading counter-tops and appliances, especially if they are dated.

TIP: Stay on trend and get instant results by switching out cabinet knobs and handles.

4.The Bathroom: Refresh.

Next to kitchens, bathrooms are the number two selling point in most homes and again, you don’t have to spend a fortune to make a difference. Consider re-grouting tile; removing and replacing caulk around the shower, tub, and toilet areas; and maybe it is time to think about replacing the toilet for a more modern look. As with the kitchen, switching out mirrors and fixtures will go a long way to improve the look and feel of the room.

TIP: Save on a big renovation by simply reglazing or refinishing the tile you’ve got, rather than replacing.

5. Paint.

Do not underestimate the effect a clean coat of paint can have on a property, both interior and exterior. It is also one of the cheapest updates you can make. New paint instantly lightens rooms, and makes the buyer feel as though the house has been well-maintained. As for colors, Patrick Ryan, a certified Residential Specialist and Senior Vice President and Managing Broker at Related Realty in Chicago, advises, “The colors most people have in their homes are personal, but they should be transitional and appeal to a larger pool of people.” We often suggest Benjamin Moore Gray Owl. It goes with every other color out there — it’s clean and just dark enough to contrast with white borders and make them pop.”

TIP: Paint the ceiling of the living room with reflective white lacquer, it will instantly lighten up a dated rooms.

6. When it comes to flooring; try to work with what you have.

Flooring of course makes a huge impact in how your house comes across to buyers. Like a fresh coat of paint, new flooring will instantly brighten the home and can make a big difference for the homebuyers, the challenge is, its expensive. So, if you have real hardwood floors, they should probably stay. Just because its old, doesn’t mean it should go. People love hardwood floors and they can often be sanded down and refinished to look like new again.

TIP: If you’re short on funds and you need a change, focus on replacing or refinishing smaller areas in public spaces, such as the kitchen and living room.

7. Go bigger!

If you’re up for a bigger investment, consider making your home bigger — or focus on making one area of your home more livable. It can make a huge difference. Clearly a home’s value is driven in large part by the square footage, so converting a basement or attic into a livable space can really pay off.

TIP: If you’re the only two-bedroom on the block, it may be difficult to sell your house without upgrading with a third.
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