Chicago Condo Development Closeout

August 22, 2012

The housing crisis could make some wannabe Chicago real estate owners very happy: The developer of a failed condominium project on the South Side is selling out.

Opera Lofts, 2545 S. Dearborn St., is the redevelopment of a building that the Lyric Opera of Chicago used for over 80 years to design and store sets, stages and costumes.

Crain’s is reporting that one of the project’s developers is selling 58 condos in the building for $138,000 per unit.

That comes to a total of $8 million, a bit short of the $21 million the project’s lender, Urban Partnership Bank, is seeking in a foreclosure suit filed last year.

The building was built in sections between 1912 and 1924 and was designed to accommodate large-scale opera sets, so there are over-sized ceilings, concrete floors and huge freight elevators.

Throughout the redevelopment, as much of the original building was preserved. Today, every brick in the building is from the original structure, and bricks that were demolished were recovered by hand and used to construct new walls and other structures.

There’s even original Lyric Opera scenery and furniture set up in common spaces.

The building’s history can be seen in the units through loft ceilings reaching 13 to 30 feet, exposed columns, brick and spiral ductwork, and 13-foot-high windows.

Units also boast 5-by-12 balconies, unique storage spaces, oak hardwood flooring, washer/dryer hook-ups, a 6-foot jetted tub and an in-wall electronic safe.

Energy-efficient improvements include:

*High-efficiency HVAC units in each condo

*Drywall-utilizing recycled materials

*Dual flush toilets

*Energy Star appliances

*Insulated, Low-E Pella Impervia Fiberglass windows and sliding doors

There’s also several thousand square feet of rooftop Green Roof.

Sounds lovely, but the project wasn’t finished until 2007, when the housing industry started its crumble, and only 35 of the building’s 93 condos have been sold.

Eleven of the 58 unsold units in the pet-friendly building are unfinished, but most of the others for sale are currently rented.

Maybe it’s time one of those renters becomes a homeowner.

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