Suburbia: It has been a panacea and an expletive. Touted for affordability and maligned for automobile dependence, suburbia is a fact of life in the U.S.
Chicago Developer Turns Unwanted City Lots to Infill Gold
Residential developer and land acquisition specialist B.J. Spathies may not be the biggest home builder in Chicago, but she is among the most adventuresome and confident.
Residential developer and land acquisition specialist B.J. Spathies may not be the biggest home builder in Chicago, but she is among the most adventuresome and confident. Over the past few years, Spathies has assembled acreage for some of the city's most impressive up-scale residential developments as president of Chicago-based Bejco Development Corporation.
With five new developments underway or recently completed, Spathies' residential portfolio includes more than 600 single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums valued at nearly $250 million. Bejco Development sold 116 units valued at $43.5 million in 1999 in Chicago -from the heart of downtown to outlying neighborhoods.
"I often find well located infill sites that other developers may have overlooked," says Spathies. "But most of all, I enjoy putting land acquisition deals together and watching a residential community be created."
Bejco's projects range from The Residences of Riverbend, a prime riverfront location on the western edge of the upscale and historic River North Neighborhood, the Residences of Sauganash on the far Northwest side to Chatham Club in the Chatham/Chesterfield area on the far South side.
In early 2000, Spathies is planning to launch Prairie House, a $45 million mid-rise development consisting of 184 condominiums and four townhomes on 15th Street in the South Loop's Central Station development. Base prices of condos in the 14-story building at Prairie House will start at about $180,000, while luxury townhomes will be priced in the $700,000 bracket.
"B.J. Spathies is a big believer in residential growth within the city," says Chicago housing analyst Garry Benson, founding partner of Garrison Partners. "She is forging ahead with pio-neering residential projects in areas where few other developers have ventured."
Her newest signature project is The Residences of RiverBend, an elegant 37-story Chicago Riverfront high-rise. Ground was broken in January in the Fulton River District. "These residences will have 11-foot ceilings," says Spathies. "Everybody will have a great view, and the building has plenty of open space around it."
Plans for the $100-million development on the west bank of the river call for a high-rise with 142 deluxe condominium and townhome units ranging in base price from about $300,000 to more than $2.5 million. More than 60 residences have already been sold. Four of the 4-story riverfront townhomes include a boatslip that will overlook a 300-foot-long river walk.
With 23 years of experience in residential and commercial real estate development, Spathies launched Bejco Development in 1993. She is the daughter of veteran Chicago residential developer William Spathies, who is currently working with South Side church groups and neighborhood organizations to develop affordable housing.
"Knowledgeable real estate people and many consumers are aware of Bejco's leadership and solid reputation in the Chicago residential market in the 1990s," says Benson. "The company's well located developments have all experienced rapid sellout and strong price appreciation."