WICKER PARK — On a chilly afternoon, a prolific real estate developer assured the future residents of a luxury condo development that his firm "does a better job of selecting signature properties" than dates for groundbreaking ceremonies.
The Tuesday remarks by Marty Paris, president of Sedgwick Properties, were met with shivers and smiles by a dozen people huddled in front of a large pile of dirt at the northeast corner of Hermitage and North avenues that will eventually become a 17-unit condo development dubbed "Hermitage 1611."
Paris, who said his goal over the last 19 years has been to "go to great neighborhoods to find great sites to develop," noted that at the site of Hermitage 1611 "two months ago an active gas station was still standing."
"It's fantastic considering you can still smell the gas," Paris said.
As Paris spoke, construction crews were wrapping up an environmental cleanup on the site of the demolished Citgo gas station that has included removing eight gas tanks from beneath the soil.
According to listing agent Jennifer Mills from Koenig & Strey, 10 of the building's 17 units are under contract.
Though no delivery date has been set, project architect Mark McKinney said the aim is to complete the building about 10 months from when the foundation is laid after building permits are finalized in the coming weeks.
The upscale building, located on a stretch of North Avenue that is Wicker Park but many refer to as Bucktown, will contain one or two retail storefronts on the ground level and 17 three-bedroom, two-bath condos on the second through fourth floors.
The floor plans boast private elevator access, attached heated garages, "lavish master suites," 10-foot high ceilings, stainless steel kitchen appliances and private decks ranging from 250 to 1,000 square feet.
In July, Mills described the buyers as "a nice mix of people who are familiar with the area: a couple singles, a couple families, a couple of empty-nesters, just every [buyer] profile type you'd expect."
Tyler Metcalf, a sales rep for a steel distributor, currently rents an apartment in Wicker Park and recently purchased a second-floor condo in the development.
Clutching a hard hat, T-shirt and champagne — gifts from Sedgwick Properties — the 24-year-old executive said he is excited by the prospect of owning his first home, which he chose for its proximity to the highway since he commutes to the suburbs for work.
After more than 20 years in northwest suburban Buffalo Grove, Fredi and Bob Bensdorf will be relocating to the city when their third-floor condo is ready.
"Our friends think we have lots of guts," joked Fredi Bensdorf, while Bob Bensdorf called the area "still Bohemian" and said he is excited about living within walking distance of several restaurants.
The couple has two adult sons, one who lives with them and another who lives near DePaul University. The son living with them "will be out" by time they move to the city, they said, almost in unison.
The luxury condos range from $650,000 to $775,000 and are significantly more expensive than the average Bucktown condo. Sedgwick Properties had first planned to build 30 rental units instead of condos.
When neighbors and Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) expressed concern about too much density — with residents voting 18-15 against a zoning change that would have allowed for the 30 rental units — Waguespack denied a zoning change.
Sedgwick might get its wish for 30 rental units soon — albeit a few blocks east of the Hermitage 1611 project.
Paris announced Tuesday that the group plans to build a 30-unit building at 1550 N. Bosworth Ave. at the southwest corner of Bosworth and North avenues, just east of Ashland Avenue.
The land, across from a Mercedes Benz dealership, is under contract, with a sale expected to be complete soon and construction on the apartments beginning in "late winter, early spring," Paris said.
For more coverage of the Hermitage 1611, see below:
End of Era for Citgo Gas Station, Luxury Condos Up Next, May 13, 2013