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The Habitat Company.


Q3 2013

400 E. Randolph 50th

400 E. Randolph Celebrates 50 Years on Lake Shore Drive

 

The 400 Condominium Association (400 E. Randolph, Chicago) will mark its 50th Anniversary on August 11th, 2013, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a special event at the Atlantic Ballroom in the Radisson Blu Hotel on North Columbus.
Opened in 1963 as the Outer Drive East Apartments, and converted to condominium in 1973, 400 E. Randolph was the first building built east of Lake Shore Drive and continues to be the proud matriarch of what is now the New Eastside Neighborhood. It is the largest residential building under one roof in Illinois and one of the largest of its kind in the country with 956 units.
The celebration on August 11th will feature a cocktail reception for more than 700 residents and guests as well as entertainment and a formal program from 5:00 - 5:45 p.m.  Among the many guests, several elected officials will join in the festivities including Congressman Danny Davis, State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, State Representative Christian Mitchell, County Board Member Jerry "Iceman" Butler and the Vice Mayor of Chicago Ray Suarez.
The landmark building which underwent an award-winning $27.6 million renovation program which has included a fully renovated health and fitness facility, complete renovation of all 32 residential hallways and significant infrastructure projects.
The landmark building with its geodesic dome pool has played host to two movies over the years - Nothing in Common with Jackie Gleason and Tom Hanks, and Eyes of an Angel with John Travolta.
We hope you will be able to join us! For more information, please contact Phil Pritzker, General Manager at 312.321.0613 or ppritzker@habitat.com.

The 400 Condominium Association (400 E. Randolph, Chicago) will mark its 50th Anniversary on August 11th, 2013, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a special event at the Atlantic Ballroom in the Radisson Blu Hotel on North Columbus.

Opened in 1963 as the Outer Drive East Apartments, and converted to condominium in 1973, 400 E. Randolph was the first building built east of Lake Shore Drive and continues to be the proud matriarch of what is now the New Eastside Neighborhood. It is the largest residential building under one roof in Illinois and one of the largest of its kind in the country with 956 units.

The celebration on August 11th will feature a cocktail reception for more than 700 residents and guests as well as entertainment and a formal program from 5:00 - 5:45 p.m.  Among the many guests, several elected officials will join in the festivities including Congressman Danny Davis, State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, State Representative Christian Mitchell, County Board Member Jerry "Iceman" Butler and the Vice Mayor of Chicago Ray Suarez.

The landmark building which underwent an award-winning $27.6 million renovation program which has included a fully renovated health and fitness facility, complete renovation of all 32 residential hallways and significant infrastructure projects.

The landmark building with its geodesic dome pool has played host to two movies over the years - Nothing in Common with Jackie Gleason and Tom Hanks, and Eyes of an Angel with John Travolta.

We hope you will be able to join us! For more information, please contact Phil Pritzker, General Manager at 312.321.0613 or ppritzker@habitat.com.

 

GOI HOA

Expanded Management in Tampa, Florida

We are excited to share that The Habitat Company has been selected as the property management company for the homeowners association at Grande Oasis at Carrollwood in Florida, effective August 1st, 2013.

Our team is excited and committed to delivering to the HOA and its unit owners, the same high level of service that we currently provide to rental residences at Grande Oasis.  As managing agent for both entities, the HOA will benefit from the seamless integrated management that we will provide to Grande Oasis as a whole

Our team is excited and committed to delivering to the HOA and its unit owners, the same high level of service that we currently provide to rental residences at Grande Oasis.  As managing agent for both entities, the HOA will benefit from the seamless integrated management that we will provide to Grande Oasis as a whole.

 

Hubbard Place Architecture Blog

Inside the New Habitat on Hubbard

If you go anywhere near River North lately, you can't help but notice the neighborhood's newest skyscraper, Hubbard Place (360 East Hubbard Street). Rising behind the Merchandise Mart and across the street from the East Bank Club, it commands attention as it plays off its older sister to the north, Kingsbury Plaza (520 North Kingsbury Street).

On a recent sunny morning I had the chance to stop by Hubbard Place and get a tour of both its temporary leasing center, and the building itself, which is unfinished but progressing steadily. The first residents will be able to move in this coming October. The tower will be completed shortly after that.

I met with Mark Segal, the president and C.E.O. of The Habitat Company, the Chicago developer with its headquarters right next door to this new building.

The tour started across the street in the leasing office at 351 West Hubbard Street where there is also a mockup of a kitchen and a bathroom for Hubbard Place. Noting that the kitchen and bathroom are two of the most important factors for apartment hunters, leasing agent Courtney Timm said having a mockup in the leasing office helped people understand what the finished building might look like.

Timm: They're surprised when they see what the model kitchen is for - which apartment - they see it on the floor plan and they walk around and say, "This is huge." It's more than they expect, in a good way.

Editor: Do you have the same kitchen features in every apartment, regardless of the size? The reason I ask is because in Presidential Towers, which was also a Habitat project, the smaller units lack appliances like dishwashers and even basic things like microwaves.

Mark Segal: There are consistent standards throughout, so it's just a size difference. The only difference in finishes will be the countertops.

Timm: The refrigerator will be a different style. It's still the same G.E. stainless steel appliance. The difference is the color of the countertop, but they're still the same high-end quartz countertop.

Segal: And [the studios] still have a full-sized washer and dryer.

The leasing office also features a full-sized kitchen to give potential lessees an idea of what to expect in their new home.

Heather Lennan, Leasing Agent: This floorplan is in place with our largest one-bedroom and our one-bedroom plus den. However, the finishes will remain the same across the board. The darker quartz countertops are on odd floors, and the white countertop is on the even floors.

There's a beautiful glass backsplash, and a double-bowl sink.

Editor: Do you have garbage disposals? There are none at Aqua, which is supposed to be a "luxury" building, but the leasing agents there claim that no new buildings have them because it's not possible in a skyscraper.

Lennan: Absolutely [we have them]. We also have Snaidero cabinetry. It's an Italian designer, and we're really proud of this product. They have soft-close, so they will never slam. It's very high-end.

Segal: The stainless steel refrigerator has a grey box, which is very different than what's generally on the market. So we think just aesthetically, it's a much nicer fit and look for the finishes we have.

Timm: The [included] pendant lighting and the track lighting are both dimable. The pendant lighting is directly above the kitchen island, and the track lighting can be aimed individually.

Editor: Your studios even have kitchen islands.

Timm: Yes. And our studios have ample, ample closet space. Large walk-ins.

Segal: One of our design elements is always to provide a lot of closet space for folks.

Editor: And there's wrap-around banks windows, even in the studios.

Segal: One of the great things about the floor-to-ceiling windows is that it gives a sense of spaciousness. They really feel very very large.

Timm: Throughout all the living spaces, except the bedrooms which have berber carpeting, is this laminate flooring. The studios and convertibles will have it throughout the space. We've gotten a lot of positive feedback about it. People really seem to like it.

Segal: The nice thing about this product is that it's very easy to maintain.

All of the units, instead of mini-blinds, will have solar shades. The bedrooms will have blackout shades.

Timm: They're high quality materials and they're easy easy to use.

Editor: And they're cat-proof.

Segal: I hadn't thought about that.

We have a few tiers of apartments where we have stand-up showers only, instead of the combination shower-bathtub. We find some people prefer that, and we're offering more choice for our residents.

Attached to the tower building is a parking garage. The roof of the garage has Hubbard Place's outdoor common space.

Lennan: It's an entire floor that's dedicated to our residents. Not only do we have the workout facility, featuring these floor-to-ceiling windows facing north and northwest, there's a stretching studio; a club room featuring a pool table, and a poker table; a movie theater featuring a large screen with surround sound, and nice comfortable seating; a boardroom for those who work from home, and need to meet with a partner, they can use that space, and there's also a wall of computers.

The Hub Club is a combination of two separate spaces that are going to be wide-open. This we envision residents renting out for exclusive parties. If they bring a caterer, they can use this chef's station that incorporates warming ovens. So it's very realistic, usable space in so many different ways.

Then there's a nice seating area with a see-through fireplace that overlooks the outdoor space.

Segal: This has porcelain plank flooring, which has a wood appearance. It has a green, living wall that will be in the common living space.

Lennan: Our favorite part is The

Retreat, which includes a Jacuzzi, a sauna, and a steam room. And each locker room, the men's and the women's, will feature full-body showers with lighting and sound - you can plug in your iPod. So it's not just a shower, it's a whole experience.

Segal: The sauna and the steam room have glass walls, and there are tall glass windows looking out onto the deck. And these glass walls will open, so you have indoor-outdoor space during the season.

We've got a fire pit, and discrete seating and eating areas, and a full outdoor kitchen for entertaining. We've got an outdoor pool, and seating areas, and some shade under pergolas, and then the entire landscaped area for folks to lay out in, if they choose. And then another lounge area.

Editor: Is the building pet-friendly? Do you have a dog run?

Segal: It is pet friendly. We do have a dog run on the Illinois Street side, and it's something we're offering as an opportunity for our neighbors to use as well.

Editor: With the roof deck on the ninth floor, you pretty much clear the neighbors' buildings?

Segal: The eastern view is actually spectacular. One of the great things about it is that it's pretty wide open, and when you look at the buildings that are developed in the neighborhood, you'll see that the view are going to remain in their current condition, we think, forever.

The other thing is that from the 43rd floor down to the 12th floor, the views are essentially unobstructed. So it's just spectacular views all the way around.

And the way that we've sited the building on the land orients it so that you get great views along the river looking north and south, particularly when you're looking out the bays or off the balconies, you're going to get spectacular views up and down the river. And then we also still have lake views and essentially unobstructed north and south views.

The evening view happens to be one of my favorite views, because we're close to the [city] core, but we're set back. So when it's evening, when the city core is lit up, it's absolutely stunning.

Editor: So you get that gritty, city, industrial view, but you don't have to live in a loft.

Segal: This is definitely not loft living.

Editor: In terms of neighborhood development, you're in a great position - no one is going to block you in.

Segal: The East Bank Club isn't going anywhere. Directly south is the East Bank Club valet lot, which isn't going anywhere. And then south of that you have the Apparel Center, which isn't going anywhere.

Timm: The Merchandise Mart isn't going anywhere.

Segal: Right. North of us is a condominium development, the Sexton Condominiums, which aren't going anywhere; and they go up to about our ninth floor. And then to the northwest you've got Kingsbury Plaza, our other building. But Kingsbury Plaza runs east-west. We've oriented Hubbard Place north-south. So the views are preserved for both buildings. The views are going to remain unobstructed in perpetuity, we think.

The interview moved outside and across the street into the construction zone where Mr. Segal and I we were joined by Terry Gillespie, the Project Manager for McHugh Construction.

Mr. Segal spoke about how important it is for the building to make a good impression, even on people who don't live there.

Segal: We've commissioned an architect to custom-design a piece of artwork [for the space in front of the building]. It will be a 25-foot-tall sculpture.

We've created Hubbard Place to enhance and fit in with the local community. There's going to be a very large entryway that's going to be fully landscaped and it's going to have this sculpture there that anyone in the neighborhood can see and enjoy.

The entryway will have a park-like setting, which we think is in contrast to what a lot of people are experiencing in the city today where you have properties built lot line to lot line. Here we will have a wonderful entry to your home.

It's going to be a heated drive, so the snow will melt. We have an arrangement with the East Bank Club so that there's 1½ floors of below-grade parking that's dedicated for East Bank Club members and their guests. And then we have parking for our residents and the public on the floors above grade.

We're doing some orange accents on the building at the breaks. Above this initial band [of apartment balconies], we have two bands where there are no balconies or bays in the building to give it a different architectural look. And we think it makes the building look quite striking.

Obviously, the orange accents under these balconies also appear on the east side as well. And on the east facade of the garage, which would otherwise be a blank wall, we created an artistic design so that people in the neighborhood weren't just looking at a blank wall. We've taken different shades of orange and created a geometric design.

The design will actually wrap around onto [the side of the building facing] Illinois Street.

Inside the building, Segal points out some of the little touches.

In our lobby area there will be a little sitting area, and then the entry is under a porte-cochere so people can pull up, get in, get out, without having to be exposed to the elements if they're picking up something or dropping off something.

A nice feature we have is designed porcelain ware that's going to be displayed in niches. It adds a nice, attractive, homey element to this space.

Behind the lobby is the mail room, which features an automated package retrieval system. When a package arrives for a resident, an e-mail is sent to that with a locker number and a code. The resident can then punch that code into the appropriate locker and get the stored package. No more missing packages because the building's dry cleaner closed before you got home, or before the delivery attempt was made.

Mr. Gillespie also noted a back hallway.

Gillespie: The though was to make a second means of exit and egress so that tenants can get back there [to Illinois Street] to walk their dogs [without going through the lobby].

Segal: What's great is that we're in River North. We're right across the street from the East Bank Club, which is obviously one of the anchors of River North. We have a partnership with the East Bank Club. Our residents who choose to join the East Bank Club, we'll pay their initiation fee; and then for existing members who join us, we give them a gift card.

Editor: Do you think you're going to get a lot of interest from people at the East Bank Club? People who are already coming here on a daily basis, so why not live here?

Segal: We do. Absolutely.

The team that's putting this together is Habitat, as the developer, with McHugh as the general contractor, and Solomon Cordwell Buenz as the architectural firm. It's the same team that did Kingsbury Plaza. We've been working with McHugh forever, and it's been a wonderful relationship. And obviously over the course of our history we've done a number of projects with Solomon Cordwell Buenz.

Editor: So, Hubbard Place was intentionally designed to mimic Kingsbury Plaza.

Segal: It was intended to create a relationship between the two. And so there are very distinct features to both buildings. But even as you were saying that, you ran your hand in an arc - the windows are the key link between the two.

Editor: How many apartments are on each floor?

Gillespie: There's 12 units on a floor, except for atypical floors like the ninth floor and below.

Segal: The reason we have atypical counts on the lower floors is because we have the garage connected into part of the tower.

Gillespie: One of the really interesting things from a construction standpoint is utilizing half of the tower from the eighth floor down for the ramp for the parking garage.

Editor: So the ramp is inside the main building?

Gillespie: Yes. It's separated by a three-hour masonry wall. But it's very interesting how they designed it to utilize that space instead of bunching up the garage and ending up with tight ramps.

Editor: Do you have to do anything special with ventilation to keep the car fumes out of the tower?

Gillespie: No. The garage is still open.

Segal: The garage is closed off in the part that's inside the building, but it's still open to the outside.

Gillespie: All the louvres on the north and south elevation have exhaust fans that bring in fresh air and pulls out the CO air. There are carbon monoxide sensors in all parking garages by code. That allows them to be tied into the building's system of exhaust fans so that the fans can kick in and push fresh air into the garage.

The roof deck features large expanses of planters and a lawn. It's at a height just slightly below the neighbors. But once the landscaping starts filling in, it should provide privacy both for the residents of Hubbard Place, and for their neighbors.

Segal: The pergolas will be at the eastern end. You can see there's an offset of the brick walls. It's going to be landscaped along the entire perimiter.

Editor: Just low landscaping, right. Not trees?

Segal: No, we'll have trees in there as well. We're trying to create something where people have the view of the city, but also a little neighborhood feel for our residents.

Editor: How long will it take for the plants to become an effective privacy barrier?

Segal: We're not trying to create a wall, we're just trying to create a nice element. So we're going to plan somewhat mature trees to begin with.

Gillespie: Kingsbury Plaza has landscaping that I would call fully mature right now. When we built that, the maturity of the trees and the bushes and the shrubbery was probably 30-percent less than that when we built it seven years ago.

Editor: The root ball for the trees doesn't have to be that deep? You don't worry about them blowing over in the wind?

Gillespie: Typically it's 18 inches. That soil really compacts in and once you've got the irrigation and such, the weight really holds it down. And then when the roots take hold, they've got this whole box to grab in and spread out.

Segal: So much of what we're trying to do, both in terms of services, and in the design of the building, are about creating convenience for our residents. Everyone seems to be stretched on time. Time is the most precious resource we all have, so the more we can make things easy for our clients, the better served they are.

We have a Facebook page for the community so that people can interact with each other. Because a lot of what's happening is that people are creating a sense of community in the buildings they're living in. So we've created more communal space than we've ever created in any of our buildings. And we're creating ways for people to interact with each other.

What we really try to do after 40-plus years of doing this is try to make the space livable.

Standard Features

  • Dishwasher in all apartments
  • Microwave in all apartments
  • Washer-dryer in all apartments
  • Fooda service
  • Four-pipe heating and cooling

Nice touches

  • Quartz countertops
  • Glass tile backsplashes
  • Stainless steel refrigerators with grey sides instead of black.
  • Pendant lights in the kitchen
  • Sauna
  • Steam room
  • Fire pit
  • Electronic front door locks (key fob or key card)
  • Black thresholds in the apartments.
  • Waterfall trim in the apartments.
  • Heated driveway to melt the snow
  • Free bicycle storage

Unusual features

  • Full-body showers with customizable mood lighting and iPod docks
  • Automated package retrieval system
  • Parking garage has separate entrances for building residents and East Bank Club members
  • Master bathrooms in the two-bedroom units have windows.
  • Built-in picocells for continuous mobile phone reception.
  • Leasing office conference room overlooks the lobby from high above.

Statistics

  • Developer: The Habitat Company
  • Architecture firm: Solomon Cordwell Buenz
  • Landscape architecture firm: Daniel Weinbach & Partners
  • Roof height: 460 feet
  • Total height: 495 feet
  • Floor space: 691,000 square feet
  • Floor space including balconies: 712,000 square feet
  • Residences: 450
  • Parking spaces: 475
  • LEED Silver
  • Originally approved by the city: 1976

The Habitat Company’s Hubbard Place Set for Early Autumn Opening

Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Writer

Chicago-The doors to Hubbard Place, the newest Chicago luxury apartment community from The Habitat Company, are set to swing open on October 1.
The community, in the trendy and bustling River North neighborhood just north of the Loop, is distinguished by a number of features. The most notable is a 29,000-square-foot amenity level, which The Habitat Company states is the largest and best appointed such amenity space in the entire Windy City.
"River North is an incredibly dynamic environment in Chicago," Mark Segal, president and CEO of The Habitat Company, based in Chicago, tells MHN. "Our property is across from the East Bank Club, and we're right on Hubbard Street, which has become a hub for entertainment in Chicago. And, of course, we're right across the river from the Loop. Residents will be very conveniently located to get to their jobs in the Loop, or anywhere else they want to go."
The 43-story, 450-unit apartment tower offers distinctive luxury and sophistication in a dozen different high-end rental residence layouts.
Apartments feature designer kitchens, expansive walk-through closets, full-sized washers and dryers, dramatic floor-to-ceiling bay windows with premium solar shades, and private balconies. All units offer sumptuous grey Eligna oak flooring, Snaidero designer Italian cabinetry and quiet closing mechanisms, quartz countertops with glass and stone backsplash and elegant stainless steel sinks and appliances. The building is designed to LEED standards.
The exterior entryway to Hubbard Place reflects a distinct and well-defined philosophy of The Habitat Company. "We look at how our developments impact the greater neighborhood, so we set our building back from the street, with 80 feet of fountains in front of the building, and we've also commissioned a 25-foot sculpture that will be part of that park-like setting as well," Segal says. "It's just a dramatic way for residents to come home each day. And, of course, in terms of locating the building, given our location we're able to offer our residents 360-degrees of wonderful Chicago views, including views up and down the river, lake views and views of Chicago's core."
The amenity level offers residents an 11,000-square-foot rooftop sundeck with sensational city views, fire pit conversation lounges, private outdoor lounging spaces with multiple grills and extra-large outdoor swimming pool with luxurious chaise lounges. Interior amenities include a yoga lounge, whirlpool spa, sauna, steam room, Kohler Chromalight therapy showers, and entertainment lounge that includes outdoor gourmet kitchen.
"It's going to be a spectacular addition to River North, and offer a wonderful home to our residents," Segal says. "It is the capstone of the vision our founder, Daniel Levin, had for this area when he founded the East Bank Club back in the 1970s."

Chicago-The doors to Hubbard Place, the newest Chicago luxury apartment community from The Habitat Company, are set to swing open on October 1.

The community, in the trendy and bustling River North neighborhood just north of the Loop, is distinguished by a number of features. The most notable is a 29,000-square-foot amenity level, which The Habitat Company states is the largest and best appointed such amenity space in the entire Windy City.

"River North is an incredibly dynamic environment in Chicago," Mark Segal, president and CEO of The Habitat Company, based in Chicago, tells MHN. "Our property is across from the East Bank Club, and we're right on Hubbard Street, which has become a hub for entertainment in Chicago. And, of course, we're right across the river from the Loop. Residents will be very conveniently located to get to their jobs in the Loop, or anywhere else they want to go."

The 43-story, 450-unit apartment tower offers distinctive luxury and sophistication in a dozen different high-end rental residence layouts.

Apartments feature designer kitchens, expansive walk-through closets, full-sized washers and dryers, dramatic floor-to-ceiling bay windows with premium solar shades, and private balconies. All units offer sumptuous grey Eligna oak flooring, Snaidero designer Italian cabinetry and quiet closing mechanisms, quartz countertops with glass and stone backsplash and elegant stainless steel sinks and appliances. The building is designed to LEED standards.

The exterior entryway to Hubbard Place reflects a distinct and well-defined philosophy of The Habitat Company. "We look at how our developments impact the greater neighborhood, so we set our building back from the street, with 80 feet of fountains in front of the building, and we've also commissioned a 25-foot sculpture that will be part of that park-like setting as well," Segal says. "It's just a dramatic way for residents to come home each day. And, of course, in terms of locating the building, given our location we're able to offer our residents 360-degrees of wonderful Chicago views, including views up and down the river, lake views and views of Chicago's core."

The amenity level offers residents an 11,000-square-foot rooftop sundeck with sensational city views, fire pit conversation lounges, private outdoor lounging spaces with multiple grills and extra-large outdoor swimming pool with luxurious chaise lounges. Interior amenities include a yoga lounge, whirlpool spa, sauna, steam room, Kohler Chromalight therapy showers, and entertainment lounge that includes outdoor gourmet kitchen.

"It's going to be a spectacular addition to River North, and offer a wonderful home to our residents," Segal says. "It is the capstone of the vision our founder, Daniel Levin, had for this area when he founded the East Bank Club back in the 1970s."

 

Mark Segal on The Habitat Company’s History and Philosophy

Recently we went behind-the-scenes, up-the-construction-hoist, and through-the-dust to bring you an early preview of Hubbard Place (360 West Hubbard Street), The Habitat Company's new residential skyscraper under construction in River North.

I also sat down with Mark Segal, the president and C.E.O. of Habitat and talked to him about his company, and its work in Chicago.
Mark Segal, President and C.E.O. of The Habitat Company
Editor: For those who aren't familiar with The Habitat Company, how about a little history lesson?
Segal: Sure. The Habitat Company was founded in 1971. We are a multi-family development and management company. We've been doing that from our founding. We've developed a little bit more than 17,000 residential units during that period of time. The bulk of our development has been in the city of Chicago.
I think one of the unique features of when we do development is what you see at Hubbard Place - The way we try to make sure the development we do fits so well in the community and contributes to the broader community when we do those developments. So, the park-like setting at Hubbard Place is really an extraordinary welcome home for our residents.
We do the full spectrum of multi-family work, so we develop and manage luxury residential residences like Hubbard Place. We also manage condominiums and manage condominiums. And we do a variety of affordable and public housing management in the company.
So the diversity of what we do from a multi-family housing perspective is as broad as it can get.
We have a footprint right now in five states. We manage 20,000 residential units across those five states, with Chicago being our largest presence.
Aside from our development work we have a project management team. We do approximately $20 million worth of capital improvement work that we oversee on an annual basis, separate and apart from the high rise development that we do.
Editor: In addition to building, you're also a buyer.
Drawing of Hubbard Place, courtesy of The Habitat Company.
Segal: We have moved into acquiring residential communities in the past few years. We acquired two assets in the Ann Arbor market of Michigan, and we have acquired two assets in the Creve Coeur submarket of Saint Louis. And we're continuously looking for the right acquisition opportunities, where we think that what we do as a company - the operating platform and the way we look at assets and can renovate them - really adds value to the existing asset that we acquire.
So for us, what we're able to deliver as an operating company really enhances the acquisition opportunities that we pursue.
Editor: What made Habitat branch out? Was it the economy, or opportunity?
Segal: I think it was opportunity. It was also to diversify what we do as an organization, in terms of diversifying where we are on the risk-reward spectrum. So we do development work, and that's high-risk, high-reward. And we do fee management risk, which is lower risk and lower reward. And there's a piece in the middle, particularly with acquisitions where value-add opportunities exist, which plays to the strength of who we are as a company, both as a developer, as well as having extensive management operations.
You've seen how we do with development, trying to create wonderful homes for our residents and offer them a great deal of convenience in how we build the homes. What we also do is try to generate a lot of service opportunities for our residents, where our team is focused on customer service.
We spent a lot of time investing in our operating platform as a company, trying to make sure that the folks who are working on-site as Habitat team members are focused uniquely on the needs of the residents. Because no one else at the company has an opportunity to have an impact on our residents lives other than the people who are on-site.
So what we've done is focus on taking away as much administrative burden as we can from our on-site team, so that the interactions our on-site team have with our residents and our prospects is completely focused on customer satisfaction.
People want to do things when they want to do them. They don't want to be subject to what our particular hours may be, and so we work on creating tools to allow convenience for our residents. So we have a service called "Habitat at Home" that allows people to apply to see a community; apply online to become residents in our communities; and once they become residents, they're able to pay their rent, review their account, place a service request for our maintenance team to respond to, and communicate with out on-site team. We also use it as a notification service for our residents, so if anything comes up, that's a great communication tool for us as well.
Editor: Habitat seems to be unusual among the large players in this marketplace in that you don't shy away from Section Eight and affordable housing. Why is that?
The Buckingham (360 East Randolph Street), another Habitat project
Segal: Our founder and chairman, Daniel Levin, said as kind of a founding principle for us, "No real estate development is only an investment in real estate. It's an investment in the lives of the people who live and work in that community." Chicago is a wonderful vibrant and diverse city. And what we pride ourselves on is creating a home that is great for everyone.
The only constraints we have are the resources that are made available to us by our clients. And so we have a history of providing quality affordable housing, ourselves. We have a history of helping other people we work with provide quality affordable housing. And we also have a significant commitment to public housing.
In my mind public housing is an aspect of affordable housing. Many people distinguish those two, but they are becoming more and more one. We've been committed to that since our founding.
Now, Hubbard Place is a market rate community, and appeals to a certain segment of the market, but we continue to look at affordable development opportunities.
And of course, we have our history with the Chicago Housing Authority and the work we did under the Gautreaux Consent Decree, initially as receiver and then as Gautreaux development manager. That work has ended, but we're very proud of the contribution we were able to make to the city of Chicago to eliminate the legacy high rises that really created areas of disinvestment and had an adverse effect on people's quality of life. To create opportunities for reintegration of not only the physical space and new homes and mixed-income communities, but also to create areas of investment where you see commercial and retail coming into areas. You're seeing a commitment by the city and other stakeholders to building schools, fire stations, police stations, and really enhancing the overall community in areas that were just holes in the middle of the city where things were not happening.
So that's a physical aspect, but the greatest achievement was the impact it's had on the quality of people's lives. And that's the real measure, is to end the cycle of poverty; to allow people the opportunity to engage in the broader community. And you get to a certain critical mass, where I think we are, where it becomes an engine that keeps perpetuating itself.
Editor: The part of Chicago's housing market that seems to have taken the biggest hit in recent years is the S.R.O. I noticed that you have an S.R.O. featured very prominently on your web site. Is there still a future for S.R.O.'s in Chicago?
Newberry Plaza (1050 North State Street), another Habitat project
Segal: S.R.O.'s are a challenging market to be in right now. I think affordable housing in many respects is challenging, given the many constraints on resources that are available right now.
When people talk about tax reform, one of the things people are saying is that we're going to start at square one and revisit what tax incentives we're going to create. The low-income housing tax credit is something that is critical to preserving and creating affordable housing.
So while we have a lot of luxury developments that are being built in the city of Chicago today, there is an even greater need for quality affordable housing, and making sure we have those types of resources available is key.
We are in the process of reinvesting in our existing S.R.O. to extend its life to continue to serve that community, and we continue to look for opportunities to create quality affordable housing for a range of folks.
Editor: What incentives are needed to bring other developers into that market?
Segal: I think making sure the financing is there to make it possible to create these communities is important. But I think it remains a challenge for engage people generally. Like you said, we're kind of the exception among developers. I don't mean to be dismissive of others in the market. There's an incredible wealth of developers in the Chicago area, and national companies that are very committed to creating quality affordable housing, and we have a great core here in Chicago.
But I think you're either interested, or you're not. I don't think it's something that a financial incentive is going to get people involved. I think the challenge is to make sure that there are the resourced there to actually do the developments.
If you look at land values in the city core, how do you create affordable housing when you have an [huge] initial expense to acquire land in close proximity to jobs. Those are some of the challenges that we have to deal with.
The city has the ability to leverage some of the resources it has in terms of land to create those opportunities.
You're generally looking at a development fee as an incentive for the developer, because these are not appreciating assets. The return in many cases is through the return on the tax credit.
Editor: Another developer putting up an apartment building near your Hubbard Place tower estimates that in order for someone to afford a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Chicago, a person has to have an income of $95,000 a year, which is roughly triple the current definition of "middle class." So to make his apartments more affordable, he's reducing their size. Are you employing a similar strategy?
Segal: Balancing the building specifications and the quality of the project, there are different grades of quality. How you spend your dollars to build that housing is an important thing. Also, the value of the land, and how you manage your operating costs are each components you need to look at to create affordable housing.
I think you can create affordable housing without necessarily having that type of income level.
Three of the four Presidential Towers
Editor: One of your big projects that included affordable housing is Presidential Towers (555 West Madison Street) in the West Loop. Tell me about that.
Segal: When we first built Presidential Towers there really wasn't much in that area, and so Presidential Towers was built as an island with an inward-looking perspective. We created in the commercial space there services and amenities for the people who lived in Presidential Towers.
Since Presidential Towers was built, the neighborhood developed around it, and so it created an opportunity for Waterton [the current owner] to reposition and open up the ground level of that property and create amenities and retail that serve the broader community.
I think those kinds of opportunities as neighborhoods change are wonderful and I think that sort of thing will continue to happen in areas around the city of Chicago.
If you stop and think about what River North used to be like, and you look at the transformation River North has had, and now it's an incredible thriving community. It has a very residential feel to it. It has all of the retail and amenities that anyone looking to live in the area could want.
Right across from Hubbard Place we have the iconic East Bank Club. We've got grocery a couple of blocks away. We've got a pet store right around the corner. You've got restaurants, art galleries, the clubs, everything right here.
Editor: You're most active in River North, is that because you have a land bank, or just opportunity?
Segal: Our development has been principally in River North in terms of our last developments, but really it all ties back to the vision of our founder, Daniel Levin, when he created the East Bank Club in the 1970′s.
Kingsbury Plaza
There was an original view to building a high rise tower exactly where we're building Hubbard Place, as well as one where we've built Kingsbury Plaza (520 North Kingsbury Street). So I guess you could say this is the fulfillment of the vision created in the 1970′s.
Editor: Where do you see River North and Near North going from here?
Segal: I think they're going to continue to be growing communities. I think people are going to continue to want to live here. I think it offers people the ultimate in terms of live-work-play environments. People seem to be very focused on convenience. Hubbard Place has everything that River North has to offer. It also has access to transportation, so people can walk to their work in The Loop, they can access the L, and we're on bus lines. I think it's a great area for folks to be.
Editor: So, where are you looking for your next big thing?
Segal: We're looking in a number of neighborhoods in Chicago for the right development opportunity. We're currently pursuing a few different development opportunities. We're very bullish on the city of Chicago. We think it's a wonderful city with even better times ahead of it.
You're seeing a great inflow of employers into the city. We think what's happening in Chicago is part of the re-urbanization that people are seeing across the country right now.
When asked which Chicago neighborhood Mr. Segal sees becoming the next River North or South Loop, he half-jokingly chose not to answer.  Some secrets he has to keep.

I also sat down with Mark Segal, the president and C.E.O. of Habitat and talked to him about his company, and its work in Chicago.

Editor: For those who aren't familiar with The Habitat Company, how about a little history lesson?

Segal: Sure. The Habitat Company was founded in 1971. We are a multi-family development and management company. We've been doing that from our founding. We've developed a little bit more than 17,000 residential units during that period of time. The bulk of our development has been in the city of Chicago.

I think one of the unique features of when we do development is what you see at Hubbard Place - The way we try to make sure the development we do fits so well in the community and contributes to the broader community when we do those developments. So, the park-like setting at Hubbard Place is really an extraordinary welcome home for our residents.

We do the full spectrum of multi-family work, so we develop and manage luxury residential residences like Hubbard Place. We also manage condominiums and manage condominiums. And we do a variety of affordable and public housing management in the company.

So the diversity of what we do from a multi-family housing perspective is as broad as it can get.

We have a footprint right now in five states. We manage 20,000 residential units across those five states, with Chicago being our largest presence.

Aside from our development work we have a project management team. We do approximately $20 million worth of capital improvement work that we oversee on an annual basis, separate and apart from the high rise development that we do.

Editor: In addition to building, you're also a buyer.

Segal: We have moved into acquiring residential communities in the past few years. We acquired two assets in the Ann Arbor market of Michigan, and we have acquired two assets in the Creve Coeur submarket of Saint Louis. And we're continuously looking for the right acquisition opportunities, where we think that what we do as a company - the operating platform and the way we look at assets and can renovate them - really adds value to the existing asset that we acquire.

So for us, what we're able to deliver as an operating company really enhances the acquisition opportunities that we pursue.

Editor: What made Habitat branch out? Was it the economy, or opportunity?

Segal: I think it was opportunity. It was also to diversify what we do as an organization, in terms of diversifying where we are on the risk-reward spectrum. So we do development work, and that's high-risk, high-reward. And we do fee management risk, which is lower risk and lower reward. And there's a piece in the middle, particularly with acquisitions where value-add opportunities exist, which plays to the strength of who we are as a company, both as a developer, as well as having extensive management operations.

You've seen how we do with development, trying to create wonderful homes for our residents and offer them a great deal of convenience in how we build the homes. What we also do is try to generate a lot of service opportunities for our residents, where our team is focused on customer service.

We spent a lot of time investing in our operating platform as a company, trying to make sure that the folks who are working on-site as Habitat team members are focused uniquely on the needs of the residents. Because no one else at the company has an opportunity to have an impact on our residents lives other than the people who are on-site.

So what we've done is focus on taking away as much administrative burden as we can from our on-site team, so that the interactions our on-site team have with our residents and our prospects is completely focused on customer satisfaction.

People want to do things when they want to do them. They don't want to be subject to what our particular hours may be, and so we work on creating tools to allow convenience for our residents. So we have a service called "Habitat at Home" that allows people to apply to see a community; apply online to become residents in our communities; and once they become residents, they're able to pay their rent, review their account, place a service request for our maintenance team to respond to, and communicate with out on-site team. We also use it as a notification service for our residents, so if anything comes up, that's a great communication tool for us as well.

Editor: Habitat seems to be unusual among the large players in this marketplace in that you don't shy away from Section Eight and affordable housing. Why is that?

Segal: Our founder and chairman, Daniel Levin, said as kind of a founding principle for us, "No real estate development is only an investment in real estate. It's an investment in the lives of the people who live and work in that community." Chicago is a wonderful vibrant and diverse city. And what we pride ourselves on is creating a home that is great for everyone.

The only constraints we have are the resources that are made available to us by our clients. And so we have a history of providing quality affordable housing, ourselves. We have a history of helping other people we work with provide quality affordable housing. And we also have a significant commitment to public housing.

In my mind public housing is an aspect of affordable housing. Many people distinguish those two, but they are becoming more and more one. We've been committed to that since our founding.

Now, Hubbard Place is a market rate community, and appeals to a certain segment of the market, but we continue to look at affordable development opportunities.

And of course, we have our history with the Chicago Housing Authority and the work we did under the Gautreaux Consent Decree, initially as receiver and then as Gautreaux development manager. That work has ended, but we're very proud of the contribution we were able to make to the city of Chicago to eliminate the legacy high rises that really created areas of disinvestment and had an adverse effect on people's quality of life. To create opportunities for reintegration of not only the physical space and new homes and mixed-income communities, but also to create areas of investment where you see commercial and retail coming into areas. You're seeing a commitment by the city and other stakeholders to building schools, fire stations, police stations, and really enhancing the overall community in areas that were just holes in the middle of the city where things were not happening.

So that's a physical aspect, but the greatest achievement was the impact it's had on the quality of people's lives. And that's the real measure, is to end the cycle of poverty; to allow people the opportunity to engage in the broader community. And you get to a certain critical mass, where I think we are, where it becomes an engine that keeps perpetuating itself.

Editor: The part of Chicago's housing market that seems to have taken the biggest hit in recent years is the S.R.O. I noticed that you have an S.R.O. featured very prominently on your web site. Is there still a future for S.R.O.'s in Chicago?

Segal: S.R.O.'s are a challenging market to be in right now. I think affordable housing in many respects is challenging, given the many constraints on resources that are available right now.

When people talk about tax reform, one of the things people are saying is that we're going to start at square one and revisit what tax incentives we're going to create. The low-income housing tax credit is something that is critical to preserving and creating affordable housing.

So while we have a lot of luxury developments that are being built in the city of Chicago today, there is an even greater need for quality affordable housing, and making sure we have those types of resources available is key.

We are in the process of reinvesting in our existing S.R.O. to extend its life to continue to serve that community, and we continue to look for opportunities to create quality affordable housing for a range of folks.

Editor: What incentives are needed to bring other developers into that market?

Segal: I think making sure the financing is there to make it possible to create these communities is important. But I think it remains a challenge for engage people generally. Like you said, we're kind of the exception among developers. I don't mean to be dismissive of others in the market. There's an incredible wealth of developers in the Chicago area, and national companies that are very committed to creating quality affordable housing, and we have a great core here in Chicago.

But I think you're either interested, or you're not. I don't think it's something that a financial incentive is going to get people involved. I think the challenge is to make sure that there are the resourced there to actually do the developments.

If you look at land values in the city core, how do you create affordable housing when you have an [huge] initial expense to acquire land in close proximity to jobs. Those are some of the challenges that we have to deal with.

The city has the ability to leverage some of the resources it has in terms of land to create those opportunities.

You're generally looking at a development fee as an incentive for the developer, because these are not appreciating assets. The return in many cases is through the return on the tax credit.

Editor: Another developer putting up an apartment building near your Hubbard Place tower estimates that in order for someone to afford a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Chicago, a person has to have an income of $95,000 a year, which is roughly triple the current definition of "middle class." So to make his apartments more affordable, he's reducing their size. Are you employing a similar strategy?

Segal: Balancing the building specifications and the quality of the project, there are different grades of quality. How you spend your dollars to build that housing is an important thing. Also, the value of the land, and how you manage your operating costs are each components you need to look at to create affordable housing.

I think you can create affordable housing without necessarily having that type of income level.

Editor: One of your big projects that included affordable housing is Presidential Towers (555 West Madison Street) in the West Loop. Tell me about that.

Segal: When we first built Presidential Towers there really wasn't much in that area, and so Presidential Towers was built as an island with an inward-looking perspective. We created in the commercial space there services and amenities for the people who lived in Presidential Towers.

Since Presidential Towers was built, the neighborhood developed around it, and so it created an opportunity for Waterton [the current owner] to reposition and open up the ground level of that property and create amenities and retail that serve the broader community.

I think those kinds of opportunities as neighborhoods change are wonderful and I think that sort of thing will continue to happen in areas around the city of Chicago.

If you stop and think about what River North used to be like, and you look at the transformation River North has had, and now it's an incredible thriving community. It has a very residential feel to it. It has all of the retail and amenities that anyone looking to live in the area could want.

Right across from Hubbard Place we have the iconic East Bank Club. We've got grocery a couple of blocks away. We've got a pet store right around the corner. You've got restaurants, art galleries, the clubs, everything right here.

Editor: You're most active in River North, is that because you have a land bank, or just opportunity?

Segal: Our development has been principally in River North in terms of our last developments, but really it all ties back to the vision of our founder, Daniel Levin, when he created the East Bank Club in the 1970′s.

There was an original view to building a high rise tower exactly where we're building Hubbard Place, as well as one where we've built Kingsbury Plaza (520 North Kingsbury Street). So I guess you could say this is the fulfillment of the vision created in the 1970′s.

Editor: Where do you see River North and Near North going from here?

Segal: I think they're going to continue to be growing communities. I think people are going to continue to want to live here. I think it offers people the ultimate in terms of live-work-play environments. People seem to be very focused on convenience. Hubbard Place has everything that River North has to offer. It also has access to transportation, so people can walk to their work in The Loop, they can access the L, and we're on bus lines. I think it's a great area for folks to be.

Editor: So, where are you looking for your next big thing?

Segal: We're looking in a number of neighborhoods in Chicago for the right development opportunity. We're currently pursuing a few different development opportunities. We're very bullish on the city of Chicago. We think it's a wonderful city with even better times ahead of it.

You're seeing a great inflow of employers into the city. We think what's happening in Chicago is part of the re-urbanization that people are seeing across the country right now.

When asked which Chicago neighborhood Mr. Segal sees becoming the next River North or South Loop, he half-jokingly chose not to answer.  Some secrets he has to keep.

 

Capri Capital Partners

Capri Capital Partners invests in Chicago riverside apartment tower.

Capri Capital Partners, LLC ("Capri"), on behalf of an institutional investor, has joined The Habitat Company ("Habitat") to recapitalize Kingsbury Plaza.  Kingsbury Plaza is a 420-unit luxury apartment building in Chicago's River North neighborhood. The newly formed joint venture will enable ownership to continue making strategic upgrades intended to further enhance the property's appearance, experience and marketability. The property was originally constructed by Habitat and opened in 2007. Habitat has retained an equity position and will continue providing day-to-day property management services on behalf of ownership.

One of the tallest structures along the Chicago River, the 47-story Kingsbury Plaza is truly a premier multifamily rental property in the area. The building features striking architecture, fountains, award winning landscaping, an underground connection to the East Bank Club and excellent proximity to restaurants, stores, bus routes, rail lines and major freeways.
Kingsbury Plaza's apartments range in size from 498 square-foot studios to 1,332 square-foot two-bedroom units, which all feature extraordinary unobstructed views of the Chicago skyline. The well-appointed apartments are outfitted with ample closet space, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and custom cabinetry. Additionally, the property offers a number of resident amenities, including an outdoor sky terrace, an unmatched landscaped river walk, outdoor pool and spa, fitness center, social lounge, internet café, dog run and a dry cleaning drop-off and pickup location on the premises.
Upon closing, ownership will implement a renovation program to modernize the property to maintain its competitive position in the marketplace.  Unit renovations will include the installation of wood flooring in the living and dining areas of all units, along with enhancements to the common area amenities.
"We are proud to be investing in our hometown of Chicago within one of the city's most vibrant residential neighborhoods," said Quintin E. Primo III, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Capri. "The Habitat team has earned a reputation as one of Chicago's most highly regarded developers, owners and operators. We are excited to be teaming up with Habitat to recapitalize this property and elevate its competiveness in the marketplace."
"Kingsbury Plaza is a high-quality, well-designed, trophy core asset that will continue to attract today's discerning renter," said Mark Segal , President and Chief Executive Officer of The Habitat Company. "We look forward to working closely with Capri to continue to deliver our award-winning customer service and introduce a series of upgrades to further solidify Kingsbury Plaza's presence as a premier asset in this dynamic and thriving neighborhood."

Capri Capital Partners, LLC ("Capri"), on behalf of an institutional investor, has joined The Habitat Company ("Habitat") to recapitalize Kingsbury Plaza.  Kingsbury Plaza is a 420-unit luxury apartment building in Chicago's River North neighborhood. The newly formed joint venture will enable ownership to continue making strategic upgrades intended to further enhance the property's appearance, experience and marketability. The property was originally constructed by Habitat and opened in 2007. Habitat has retained an equity position and will continue providing day-to-day property management services on behalf of ownership.

One of the tallest structures along the Chicago River, the 47-story Kingsbury Plaza is truly a premier multifamily rental property in the area. The building features striking architecture, fountains, award winning landscaping, an underground connection to the East Bank Club and excellent proximity to restaurants, stores, bus routes, rail lines and major freeways.

Kingsbury Plaza's apartments range in size from 498 square-foot studios to 1,332 square-foot two-bedroom units, which all feature extraordinary unobstructed views of the Chicago skyline. The well-appointed apartments are outfitted with ample closet space, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and custom cabinetry. Additionally, the property offers a number of resident amenities, including an outdoor sky terrace, an unmatched landscaped river walk, outdoor pool and spa, fitness center, social lounge, internet café, dog run and a dry cleaning drop-off and pickup location on the premises.

Upon closing, ownership will implement a renovation program to modernize the property to maintain its competitive position in the marketplace.  Unit renovations will include the installation of wood flooring in the living and dining areas of all units, along with enhancements to the common area amenities.

"We are proud to be investing in our hometown of Chicago within one of the city's most vibrant residential neighborhoods," said Quintin E. Primo III, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Capri. "The Habitat team has earned a reputation as one of Chicago's most highly regarded developers, owners and operators. We are excited to be teaming up with Habitat to recapitalize this property and elevate its competiveness in the marketplace."

"Kingsbury Plaza is a high-quality, well-designed, trophy core asset that will continue to attract today's discerning renter," said Mark Segal , President and Chief Executive Officer of The Habitat Company. "We look forward to working closely with Capri to continue to deliver our award-winning customer service and introduce a series of upgrades to further solidify Kingsbury Plaza's presence as a premier asset in this dynamic and thriving neighborhood."

 


PRESS RELEASES

News page

The Habitat Company Starts Construction of 450-unit luxury high rise in Chicago

CHICAGO (January 12, 2012) - The Habitat Company announced the start of construction of a 43-story, 450-unit luxury high rise in Chicago in a joint venture with Multi-Employer Property Trust (MEPT) and a major institutional investor. This luxury multifamily community will be located at 360 W. Hubbard Street in Chicago's vibrant River North neighborhood, across the street from the iconic East Bank Club. This latest project adds to the more than 17,000 residential units developed by The Habitat Company in its 40 year history. Bentall Kennedy, one of the largest North American real estate advisors, represents its clients, an institutional investor and MEPT, a $5.4 billion real estate equity fund, in the transaction. "We are pleased to begin our latest project which builds on our forty years of experience and understanding of the market to create what we believe will be our finest apartment development," said Daniel Levin, Founder and Chairman of The Habitat Company. The rental residences will be smoke-free and will include top-of-the-market finishes, amenities, and services, including 29,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor amenity space to accommodate year round activities. The development will be seeking LEED Silver certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system of the U.S. Green Building Council. The project's architect is Solomon, Cordwell, Buenz & Associates which has designed many distinctive residential buildings around Chicago, including The Habitat Company's Kingsbury Plaza development located across the street. The general contractor for the development is James McHugh Construction Company which has built some of the most recognized properties in the Chicago skyline, including many of The Habitat Company's prior projects. "For The Habitat Company, there are many exciting aspects to this development, not the least of which is our partnership with Bentall Kennedy, one of the most respected North American institutional real estate advisors, a major institutional investor and MEPT," said Matt Fiascone, Senior VP of Finance and Investment for The Habitat Company. Upon its completion in late 2013, the development will be managed by The Habitat Company. The Habitat Company currently manages for its own account and for third parties over $2 billion of assets comprised of more than 20,000 residential units of market rate, affordable, condominium, student and public housing units in Illinois and four other states. When combined with its recent acquisition of 480-unit and 360-unit multifamily assets in Ann Arbor, Michigan, The Habitat Company concluded transactions in December having a total value of close to one-quarter of a billion dollars.

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