Month: September 2019

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Elana Katz: Translator of trauma

Written by The Reader Chicago

The U.S.-born, Berlin-based performance artist continues a three-week residency at Defibrillator with ongoing screenings of her film Running on Empty. Almost a year ago, on a crisp autumn night in Berlin, the glazed-over windows of Kwadrant gallery greeted me on my way to see Elana Katz's performance piece entitled V. People outside were standing on the window ledges on tiptoes, craning to get a glimpse inside. When I drew open the door, a flood of blue light poured into my eyes—phones on camera mode became beacons of arrival, small screens zooming in on a stark white cube anchored to a jet-black-colored floor.…

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Uptown’s Clarendon Park Community Center is…

Written by Curbed Chicago

A rendering of the restored building and new lobby space. | William Architects/Chicago Park District The project will spare the 103-year-old building from the wrecking ball After years of hosting community meetings and collecting feedback, the Chicago Park District has finalized its plans to renovate—not demolish—Uptown’s Clarendon Park Community Center, Alderman James Cappleman announced Friday in an email to 46th Ward residents. Constructed in 1916 by city architect C.W. Kallal in the Mediterranean revival style, the lakefront building has certainly seen better days. A 1972 remodel removed many of the structure’s more distinctive architectural features such as its entry colonnade and rooftop towers, but arguably more damage has been sustained due to its leaking roof. The proposed renovation, envisioned by William Architects, aims to address water infiltration as well as construct a new lobby, remodel recreational spaces, and make the whole building ADA compliant. The city expects the to cost roughly $6.4 million, followed by an $8.4 million . Funding for the project will, in part, come from the , which will contribute $4.6 million to the Chicago Park District to use at the North Side site. The Park District will fundraise the remainder of the cost, according to Cappleman’s office. In addition to a slideshow containing of the Uptown project, the alderman also emailed residents a fly-through of the completed Clarendon Park Community Center renovation.

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The best downtown spots to see…

Written by Curbed Chicago

The restored lobby of Chicago’s old Post Office. | Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Architecture Center It’s hard to choose only a dozen If touring isn’t your thing, you can take a stroll downtown to find plenty of other intriguing spots during Open House Chicago on October 19 and 20. Although this year’s event , the Loop remains a popular destination for its concentration of OHC sites and access stunning high-rise views. There are nearly 70 to choose from—ranging from architecture firms to apartment buildings to historic lobbies—so you are bound to find something that fits your taste. Curbed Chicago spoke with Eric Rogers, OHC and community outreach manager for the Chicago Architecture Center, to highlight some of the can’t-miss downtown locations. This year’s OHC weekend includes access to more than 350 of the city’s historic churches, ornate performance spaces, and hidden cultural gems. To help plan your weekend, the Chicago Architecture Center and lets you filter by category. It even tells you which spots are expected to have the longest lines.

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Charming co-op in a landmarked Hyde…

Written by Curbed Chicago

The library features a gas-burning fireplace and built-in shelving. | Photos by VHT Cozy up next to the library fireplace Homebuyers looking for a classic Chicago experience will find plenty to like about this handsome three-bedroom co-op in Hyde Park’s Powhatan building, designed by architects Robert De Golyer and Charles L. Morgan in 1929. The seventh-floor residence is one of 40 in the landmark Art Deco structure, which is one of the last residential buildings in Chicago to employ a 24/7 elevator operator. The unit is full of elegant touches including a wood-paneled library, parquet floors, and unobstructed Lake Michigan views. The most intriguing element is arguably the old wood millwork, added by a previous owner. “There’s a rumor that the oak trim could have come from a building at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition,” listing agent Kenneth Marier of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff tells Curbed Chicago. “There’s no paperwork to prove it, so the story remains an interesting—albeit unsubstantiated—narrative.” Additionally, the current owners invested in a number of upgrades that bring the home up to contemporary standards that are still in keeping with the 1920s design. “Their choices were similar to what was originally there,” explains Marier, “just updated and a little fresher.” Changes include a renovated kitchen that incorporates the home’s original German silver sink as well as a SpacePak air conditioning system to avoid the need for unsightly ductwork or window units. The updated bathrooms feature toned-down versions of the original Art Deco pastel coloring. If the asking price seems a little too good to be true, it’s important to note that the home is a co-op. The owner is also responsible for a “comprehensive” monthly assessment of $3,980—covering parking, utilities, building amenities, as well as property taxes. The formal foyer has gorgeous oak doors. The foyer flows into a lake-facing living room and its attached library nook and dining room. The dedicated dining room features the same parquet flooring as the living room and library. The renovated kitchen and butler’s pantry features stainless appliances, tile floors, and lots of storage. The spacious master suite also boasts lake views.

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Lyric’s The Barber of Seville is…

Written by The Reader Chicago

The season opener is as much fun as you can have at the opera. Lyric Opera has married pitch-perfect casting to go-for-broke direction in its season opener, The Barber of Seville.  Thanks to that, and Gioachino Rossini's brilliant score, this 200-year-old satire, peopled with what could be stock characters in a conventional plot of forbidden but victorious young love, bounces uproariously to life. First, the cast: Mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa—she of the liquid-silver voice and sterling dramatic chops—is the opera's gutsy ingenue, Rosina.…

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How mobile homes became a billion-dollar,…

Written by Limelight

(Illustration by Andrew Colin Beck) Mobile homes are no longer just a necessity for the poor. They’ve increasingly become a must-have for some of the world’s richest private equity players. A 2016 investor pitch from manufactured housing owner and operator RHP Properties boasted that its portfolio of 33,000 lots — stretching across seven states — had “low cash flow volatility and steady year-over-year rent increases” as well as minimal capital expenditures. The pitch apparently worked on , which has poured billions of dollars into trailer park sites in the past few years. The Canadian private equity giant bought a portfolio of manufactured home sites in 13 states from Colony NorthStar for $2 billion that May. The deal included the acquisition of a joint venture backing RHP’s sites, a Brookfield spokesperson confirmed to The Real Deal. Brookfield, which has more than $350 billion in assets, now owns 130-plus mobile home communities, making it one of the one of the largest manufactured housing investors in the U.S. RHP declined to comment for this story. The immobility of so many mobile and manufactured homes has caught the attention of private equity firms in a big way. With most low-income renters unable to quickly up and move their properties, institutional real estate investors increasingly see that as a surefire bet — especially in a major downturn. Douglas Danny, a Marcus & Millichap broker who specializes in manufactured housing sites, called them one of the safest assets in a recession. “From 2008 to 2012, there was no effect whatsoever on manufactured housing,” he said. “Now the new buyer coming into the space is the institutional buyer.” And a who’s who of global investment giants have poured more than $4 billion into the market in the past four years: Brookfield, , Apollo Global Management and the Carlyle Group have all snapped up, or flipped, trailer parks in that time. Janet Sallander, a commercial real estate appraiser at Cushman & Wakefield, said mobile homes have become the “default working-class housing.” “It simply produces better returns compared to other asset classes,” Sallander said. Mobile home economics Due to zoning restrictions and the high cost of land in many areas, there are just 6,250 mobile home parks in the U.S., according to a 2019 Cushman & Wakefield report. Individual plots are rented out to tenants who purchase their own homes. And unlike aging apartment buildings in more heavily regulated housing markets, owners of these lots only need to provide utilities, while residents are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of their homes. Blackstone made its first bet on manufactured housing last year when it bought a $172 million portfolio of 5,200 lots from Ontario-based Tricon Capital Group. Other major players — including the Carlyle Group and Sam Zell’s Equity LifeStyle Properties — are snapping up manufactured home communities, with one analyst calling it “the most recession-proof housing stock in existence,” as TRD . “A lot of investors are buying big complexes, if they can find them,” said PJ Mikolajewski, president of Ideal Manufactured Homes and a California Manufactured Housing Institute board member. “And as soon as they buy them, they jack the rents up.” For Alberto Calvillo, a lifelong construction worker who recently moved his family to a site owned by RHP in Bohemia, New York, it was the most affordable option after he was priced out of another mobile home park in nearby Commack. Calvillo said he now pays $1,000 a month to rent the land where his 900-square-foot house sits. His extended family gathered at the single-wide home, decked out with custom-fitted green and orange panels, on a Sunday afternoon in September. “This isn’t a mobile home,” Calvillo said with a laugh as he pointed out the obvious lack of wheels, the custom wraparound deck he built and the new concrete foundation. “I’m going to stay here until I die.” The average cost of moving such a home is $5,000 if the home has wheels to begin with, according to a 2019 report from the national community group MHAction. So when owners of manufactured homes are priced out, they often need to sell their homes at a loss and are replaced by new homeowner-tenants without any big losses for the site’s owner. The result is a low turnover rate and extremely stable revenues. “If you have the right underwriting, you can increase rent 5 percent each year,” said Marcus & Millichap’s Danny. “Within three to five years, you’ve gone from a 3 or 4 to a 6 [percent] and the park has gone up in value.” Documents from Florida-based Sunrise Capital Investment — which cite “superior risk-adjusted returns for investors” — give an inside look at the upsides for those in the business. Manufactured housing is a “recession-resistant” asset class with low turnover that allows for “consistent rent increases,” the pitch to investors reviewed by TRD notes. “Demand for our product actually increases as the economy tightens.” Bullish bets Carlyle, one of the country’s largest private equity firms, made a splash in 2015 when it bought a manufactured home community in Silicon Valley for $152 million. Tenants in the area soon complained of exorbitant rent hikes and a deterioration in management responsiveness — sparking new calls for statewide rent control in California. The D.C.-based investment group recently flipped the complex, selling it to Chicago-based Hometown America for $237.4 million this August, according to California property records. Carlyle did not respond to requests for comment. The rush of private equity into manufactured homes has also attracted the ire of U.S. senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who in May wrote stern letters to Brookfield’s Bruce Flatt, Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman, Apollo’s Leon Black and Carlyle’s co-CEOs. “Unable to afford moving, and unable to sell their manufactured homes, some residents report that they are forced to choose between ‘paying for increase[ed] housing costs … or abandoning their homes,’” her letter reads. One publication called it a Dodd-Frank moment for manufactured home communities, but Blackstone was unfazed. Wayne Berman, the firm’s head of global government affairs, said in his response to Warren that Blackstone hoped to “raise the bar for customer service within an industry that has not always historically provided a high-quality resident experience.” “Although we’re a tiny part of the overall market, [we’re] dedicated to professional management, capital investment and resident service,” Matthew Anderson, a Blackstone spokesperson, said in a statement to TRD. Brookfield is “highly attuned” to the fact that the asset class can include lower-income populations, according to the company, which outlined steps the firm has taken to ensure affordability. In other cases, though, bullish investment strategies have quickly backfired. At one manufactured housing complex in Akron, New York, which Sunrise Capital purchased for under $4 million in 2017, the firm raised rents to $525 from $280 and cut the 122-lot site’s employee payroll by $30,000, sparking an outcry from tenants. After the residents organized an eight-month rent strike against their new landlord, the complex was placed into a receivership and the investment firm ceded control to the tenants. Representatives for Sunrise Capital declined to comment. But those bad bets have yet to deter aggressive investors on the whole, industry sources say. “It could cost [up to] $10,000 to move a home, depending on how big it is,” Rob Ybarra, a debt and equity broker at CBRE based in Las Vegas, noted. “But if you raise rents 25 or 50 bucks — are you going to pick up and go somewhere else? Probably not. “That’s one of the really big reasons that people like this property type,” Ybarra added. “It’s a captured audience.”

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WeWork pulls its public offering

Written by Limelight

WeWork co-CEO Artie Minson (Credit: Getty Images) WeWork is officially pulling it public offering. The firm’s co-CEOs, Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham, said in a statement that WeWork “decided to postpone our IPO to focus on our core business.” “We have every intention to operate WeWork as a public company and look forward to revisiting the public equity markets in the future,” the statement said. Sebastian Gunningham Last month, the firm’s S-1 filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission set off a firestorm among investors and observers after it the company’s precarious financial position, including the fact that its growing losses were double revenue. It also included information about questionable loans and transactions with its charismatic CEO Adam Neumann. As scrutiny mounted, the company’s largest investor, Japan-based SoftBank and its founder Masayoshi Son Neumann — ending a tight bond between the two men that had fueled WeWork’s phenomenal growth. Neumann as CEO last week, and now serves as non-executive chairman of the company. Monday’s disclosure  provides no clearer guidance on WeWork’s future. The company initially planned to raise at least $9 billion in the IPO — including a $6 billion debt deal backed by multiple banks — which would have offset its mounting losses for years to come. But without that cash infusion, the company is set to run out of money by next spring. It has at least $47 billion in outstanding lease commitments to landlords over the next 10 to 15 years. Other reports in recent days suggest the company is in talks with multiple private investors to raise more capital, but few details are known.

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Alderman withholds support for big mixed-use…

Written by Limelight

Every day, The Real Deal rounds up Chicago’s biggest real estate news, from breaking news and scoops to announcements and deals. We update this page throughout the day, starting at 10 a.m. Please send any tips or deals to . This page was last updated at 10 a.m. CT Alderman Jim Gardiner is withholding support for The Point at Six Corners. Gardiner said he would not approve new plans for the $130 million mixed-use development, based on community feedback he has received. The development plan includes 103 independent living apartments, 148 assisted living and memory care apartments, 10 on-site affordable housing apartments and 215 off-street parking spaces. [] The Cook County Board approved the purchase of a Blue Island building for its new healthcare clinic. One of two county commissioners to vote against the $15.3 million project, Sean Morrison, (R-Palos Park), suggested politics may be at play. He cited political donations that the manager of the LLC who sold the building made to other commissioners. [] Aon board chairman Lester Knight and his wife, Rebecca, sold their six-bedroom Winnetka mansion. The couple, who sold it for $3.25 million, paid $2.99 million for the home on Thorntree Lane in 1993. That’s about $4.88 million in today’s dollars. It is one of many suburban Chicago mansions that has seen lower sales over the last year. [] Belgravia Group’s 18-story “Renelle on the River” condo opens in River North. Located at 405 N. Wabash Avenue, it has 50 condos ranging from 1,500 to 2,500 square feet. Eighty percent of the units have been sold. [] Internet search history revealed the Palatine man who drove his SUV through the Woodfield Mall earlier this month had searched for details about the mall about 100 times. The man, Javier Garcia, allegedly looked at the types of stores in the mall and clicked on aerial views of the property hours before the incident. [] Blackstone is buying Colony Capital’s national warehouse portfolio for $5.9 billion. The portfolio spans 60 million square feet across 465 warehouses in 26 markets. Areas of strong concentration include northern New Jersey, California, Florida, Dallas and Atlanta. [] SoftBank is bringing on Sprint’s former CEO to help turn around WeWork. SoftBank head Masayoshi Son has asked Marcelo Claure to take a more hands-on role at the company after the recent ouster of co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann. His exact role has not been specified, but he would focus on opportunities to cut costs and increase revenues. Senior WeWork executives Sebastian Gunningham and Artie Minson have been appointed of the company. []

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Blackstone buys Colony Capital’s warehouse portfolio…

Written by Limelight

Blackstone’s Jonathan Gray (Credit: Getty Images and Wikipedia) Blackstone is doubling down on its e-commerce bet with another multibillion dollar industrial portfolio deal. The company is buying Colony Capital’s national warehouse portfolio for $5.9 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. Blackstone also struck a deal in June to buy a similar portfolio from GLP for $18.7 billion, although it has portions of that portfolio. The portfolio Colony sold to Blackstone spans 60 million square feet across 465 warehouses in 26 markets. Areas of strong concentration include northern New Jersey, California, Florida, Dallas and Atlanta. has been aiming to transition away from traditional real estate holdings and toward investments in digital infrastructure and real estate like cell phone towers and data centers. It’s aiming to up to 90 percent of its $20 billion real estate portfolio by the end of 2021. Activity in the industrial sector has as e-commerce giants like Amazon continue to eat up more and more space to store the goods people buy online, and Blackstone has so far been one of the most aggressive players. “We are seeing accelerating demand for warehouse space in dense population centers, as goods move online and retailers and consumers alike seek faster delivery times,” Blackstone executive Nadeem Meghji told the Journal. [] — Eddie Small

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Alderman rejects senior housing development at…

Written by Curbed Chicago

A rendering of The Point at Six Corners | Clark Street Real Estate The 10-story project failed to impress 45th Ward Alderman Jim Gardiner A long-discussed plan to build a 10-story mixed-use development with 251 senior housing units and an Aldi grocery store at the Six Corners intersection in Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood failed to win over recently elected 45th Ward Alderman Jim Gardiner. “Based upon community feedback received through a multitude of forums over the course of several months, I am unable to support the current proposal,” Gardiner wrote in a newsletter to residents on Friday evening. “I am eager to work towards identifying compromises that bring in new investments to Six Corners and better resemble guidelines set forth by the Six Corners Economic Development Master Plan.” The alderman’s announcement came just days after he hosted a meeting at which co-developers Clark Street Real Estate and Ryan Companies presented an updated version of their $130 million plan to nearby residents. Changes included extra units of on-site affordable housing, per Gardiner’s suggestion, according to . Known as The Point at Six Corners, the proposal hoped to fill a at the corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Irving Park Road in the center of the area’s main shopping district. The project had the backing of previous Alderman John Arena as well as the . It stalled at the April meeting of the city’s zoning committee due to a . —which calls for a four- to five-story development at the site—suggests he agrees with calls to downsize the proposal. It’s unclear what—if anything—comes next for the flooded pit at 4747 W. Irving Park Road or how Gardiner’s decision could influence other projects proposed for the Six Corners area such as the redevelopment of the across the street. Statement Regarding 4747 W Irving Park Road. Based upon community feedback received through a multitude of forums over...Posted by on