Developer Tweaking Plans for Mixed-Use Condo Plot in River North

A parking lot at Clark and Huron could make the condo conversion, adding units to a dwindling supply on Chicago's North Side.

Via Google Maps Akara Partners purchased a parking lot in hip River North, eyeing a slate of condos with retail on the ground floor at the site. The development would had approximately 65 more housing units in an area with fewer new buildings scheduled for delivery. 

Developer and investment strategists Akara Partners put down $3.7 million for a property in one of Chicago's trendier neighborhoods, at least trendy for restaurants, bars and access to Mag Mile shopping. In discussion are plans for 65 condominiums with street-level retail at 100 W. Huron, near the Felix Hotel, according to Crain's. That's a confident move and makes Akara look more like logicians than gamblers.

The condo market has been on the slide, practically numb. At the River North latitude, median list prices bounce around $405,000 but condos dominate the market at 86 percent of housing versus single-family homes grabbing 38 percent, according to Zillow data compiled through Oct. 2013. Appraisal Research reports that you just can't get anything new in a condo and pay less than $700 per square foot. (For comparison, on the 500 block of Huron is a 2-bed, 2-bath condominium built in 2000 asking $650,000.)

Given this thumbnail sketch, the Akara purchase of the 9,000 square foot parcel could be shrewd. According to a blurb on its website, they're making a play for downtown Chicago, bulking up a portfolio with around $150 million in assets. Rajen Shastri, currently CEO of Akara, led the Huron venture and previously worked for Campus Acquisitions LLC, which has a toehold in the neighborhood with an apartment tower building going up at State and Huron Streets. 

A nice play while things look quiet.


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