Considerations and neighbors' discussions of the impact of
Antheus Capital and MAC Properties in Hyde Park/Kenwood;
projects: Solstice on the Park, Village Center, Del Prado, Shoreland, Sutherland. Issues of housing stock renewal vs neglect, affordability, creating or restoring grand and nice spaces in an in-demand neighborhood, and cross-type or public-private mutual subsidization.

Presented by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and its website hydepark.org. Join the Conference and its committees: engage in and help underwrite our work.

Return links: home. Hot Topics and Community Issues homepage. Development Hot. Affordability Hot. Development-Preservation-Zoning homepage.

Written by and responsible: Gary Ossewaarde

To page index including to reports on October 16 2007 past forum.
Core material here appeared in their original form in these hydepark.org pages: Affordability/Affordable Housing, Development, 56th Cornell, Village Center. (Look in Affordable Housing page for an article on how an Antheus building became low-cost seminary cooperative housing.). See also Shoreland. Local Option spot Liquor Licensing as business development tool (55th Metra to Cornell, MAC) or development killer.
SUTHERLAND

Updates May 2011 and on REGENT's PARK OCTOBER 2011 (Gary Ossewaarde, hydepark.org.)
City Hyde Park (Village Center, new 51st Lake Park TIF) incl. updates on Antheus' larger plans as of Dec. 2011 and July 2012.

Page index

Meetings and announcements, updates

Antheus/MAC sold East View Tower for $24M in March 2017 (having paid $11M about a decade before). Like most developers, MAC needs to be very strategic in refinancing debt and deciding what to keep. When bought by Antheus, East View Tower received some upgrades, especially to with a beautiful new lobby and with better business entries, but did not do an extesive rehab like to DelPrado, in part because then-alderman Preckwinkle sadi thea with renvotion of the DelPrado underway, that would b too many tenants to even temporarily displace. The new firm is New Jersey based. No information is yet available on any changes they will make. The building is adjacent on sdtwo sides to MAC properties, a cleared narrow site to the nor th and a two-story shooping cneter to the west that MAC intendsto give arenewed facade to match the new tower it plans to build across Cornell.

April 13, Wednesday, 6 pm. Update community meeting on MAC Properties' 53rd/Cornell high rise proposal. East View Tower, 5242 S. Hyde Park Blvd.

CONSTRUCTION OF SOLSTICE IS UNDERWAY and proceeding rapidly. The latest iteration of Solstice on the Park, 56th and Cornell, Planned Dev. 282, goes before the Chicago Plan Commission February 18 and the Zoning Commission in future weeks. Changes are

Windermere House – no changes

5528-32 S Cornell – reserve the 53 dwelling units for affordable housing

Solstice Building

Construct no fewer than 316 parking spaces

Construct no more than 250 dwelling units

The maximum height will remain at 299 feet

New leasing agent for MAC Obaid Khan. okhan@macapartments.com.

Antheus/Silliman updated on City Hyde Park- see below.

Antheus' recent purchases: Sutherland Hotel, 5325 S. Hyde Park (just south of the Del Prado), a 4-story apartment complex on the the northeast corner of East Hyde Park and Ellis, Regents Park. Passed on picking up Flamingo and Versailles.

Update reported at the May 13 2013 TIF meeting: Peter Cassel of Antheus gave an update. First work at City Hyde Park will begin in late summer- sewer relocation for or at the PB station. New retail has been leased and will be soon announced. Whole Foods has a hard opening date of September 2015. Leasing signage has gone up on the Sutherland. Shoreland will have people moving in late summer and early fall.

February, 2013 The Shoreland received Chicago Landmarks designation. This will permit tax credits and completion of renovations and restorations as a viable rental building by Antheus Capital divisions while protecting from demolition or significant alteration.

MAC Properties has a MAC Perks program, in development, giving benefits and cross marketing in HP businesses to MAC tenants. New Regional Leasing Manager is Obaid Khan. okhan@macapartments.com.

November 8, 2012- MAC buildings won four awards from the Chicago area management association (CAMME)- Regents Park, Woodlawn Court, Pepperland, Kenwod Court.

53rd Cornell.
THE MAC BUILDING ON 53RD/ CORNELL.
They control the parking lot (site A, used to have Tiki and Cornell Lounge) and the two flat office building east of Cornell (B) and the boarded up house north of East View Tower (just bought). The latter will be torn down within 2 weeks and the site left vacant for the forseable future-- they could put in up to 6 units.
The site B office building has long term lessees and will stay the same, with some "improvement to the facade." They are want to concentrate the height on site A.

Plan for A is a c.27 story, total c.850' high rise (residential tower on top of a 6 floor retail and parking platform). The tower look is nice, sort of like the rounded-corner Johnson Wax building in Racine or City Hyde Prk with rounded corners and with sections pulled and pushed in and out so it isn't so much a box. The trunions? and spandrels are white so the structure resembles a beehive but with 4-sided cells instead of 6-sided. The cells are glass. It is pushed to the south and east part of the (not very deep) site, but will of course still overshadow the town houses to the north.

The platform is wider than the tower, with glass for the retail and pinkish/orange masonry overhangs. There wil be parking spaces for each unit plus the retail plus what was in the lot for other MAC buildings. They think it will be more than enough, esp. as trends continue, in which case they may be offering to neighbors. The parking and residential entrances will be on Cornell, opposite the Akiba-Schechter school parking and drop off- sone neighobors abjected to this, but CDOT will not allow car entry and exit on 53rd by the viaduct.

The size of the units-- will be more space per than in Vue 53 and CityHydePark, but less than comparable downtown. The 3 bedrooms at the top will be especially spacious, but of course expensive. About 6-10 units per floor.
Eli Ungar would not commit to affordable units-- not required, but will "try". The alderman confirmed it is not in the SSA and the boundaries of SSA cannot, will not change to include this or any other building.

A return visit to discuss details will be held in late January 2017. However, this project looks like a "Go," starting in summer 2017 and finishing late 2018.



Regents Park (revised by Gary Ossewaarde November 11, 2011 through January 12). See a good summary.
MAC's most recent acquisition is huge (1031-unit) Regent's Park apartment complex at East End and S. Hyde Park Blvd. (5020-50 S. Lake Shore Drive.) The deal was closed in early October 2011 (finalized by October 28) for about $159M (numbers from Crains'/Real Estate Daily). Crescent Hill, the former owner, that morning terminated nearly the entire staff (except for some managerial - see details in the Herald articles below), and bringing in new, non-union staff not familiar with the building. How much this was in coordination with Antheus has not been said, but Antheus made no effort to undo it and stood by it*, and by the total lack of informing or involving the tenants (which may be common practice but unwise especially for a and complex large building). As might be expected there were both problems when issues such as flooding arose and a huge uproar. What was probably not anticipated by Antheus was the outpouring of devotion to the previous staff and insistence they be brought back--this appears to have been more than just concern about hazard posed by using staff unfamiliar with the building. There was heavy organizing by tenants.

*According to the Hyde Park Herald of January 11, based in part on discussion with Antheus legal labor consultant and Hyde Parker Jim Franczek, Antheus was in an awkward, hard to disclose difficulty, specifically HOW TO DEAL WITH UNFUNDED PENSION OBLIGATIONS OF THE FORMER CRESCENT HILL EMPLOYER. We (hydepardk.org) cannot vouch for the following description. Eli Ungar told the Herald that there were "STRUCTURAL DIFFICULTIES THAT DID NOT ALLOW US TO REHIRE" the union employees immediately after Crescent Hills (by agreement with Antheus?) fired them with no comment about their future status. IT IS EVIDENT THAT ANTHEUS WAS UNWILLING TO ASSUME WHAT IT CALLS UNDERFUNDED PENSION OBLIGATIONS. Ungar said, "we tried to be very clear we were trying not to impugn the reputation of the current employees." Mr. Franczek said even indicating somehow to the employees that they might be rehired would have been difficult (possibly unfair and discriminatory bargaining) before a new agreement was negotiated. Much of this is murky and depends on actual wording and varied legal interpretations, but promising, or not terminating might have been risky. The underfunded pensions are now the responsibility of Crescent Heights and Antheus has a new agreement on pensions going forward. Antheus calls the outcome a win-win-win.

BULLETIN: ANTHEUS REACHES AGREEMENT WITH UNIONS THAT SATISFIES TENANT, COMMUNITY DEMANDS (this was an expansion from the 4 garage employees and three other employees already rehired, including via agreement with the Teamsters.) The employees stay with their unions, but we do not know what changes in wages or benefits were negotiated.

Gary Rayl wrote to HPVillage Google Group on December 7, 2011:

Mr. Unger [sic] sent a letter that all our Front Desk staff and 16 of our maintenance staff will return this week to Regents Park.
The maintenance staff not returning will be offered other jobs in other buildings in Hyde Park.
It has been a 5 week battle, but with the help of the Hyde Park Community we have a positive outcome.

[Note: The tenants have set up a holiday relief fund for employees who received no pay during the dispute--neither the union contractors, government laws and unemployment, nor the employer cover this. If interested, contact Mr. Rayl. garyrayl@mdydu.com. GO]

This site (hydepark.org) notes that it is the organ of a community organization that since its founding has very interested in building-related matters, especially that affect people's safety, and general affordability and quality of life in the neighborhood, and supports a caring community. But the Conference generally does not get involved in disputes within a private building or (as the courts put it "between neighbors". Nevertheless, this became of community-wide concern, even great emotion, spilled out into the streets with union pickets and counter by a hired "crisis (i.e. union) management team", and Antheus opened the Nov. 8 meeting the community, related or unrelated to phone calls made by community leaders to their office.

The tenants had first met on Sun evening Oct. 30-- the space is reported to have been much too small and elevators were reportedly cut off and the fire regulators called in for safety management. One visitor told this writer that the tenant organizers ran a very bad or off-course meeting. Antheus scrambled to schedule a meeting off site in a much larger venue, Kenwood Academy November 8.

Meanwhile, Antheus insisted to the Herald that they have bought other properties and kept them union and with positive relationships to this day and or the staff was kept to the present, (note- this is currently only true of the Algonquin, where 4 of 100 are union, and pay rates are not known to us--someone offered a rehire at Regents Park was offered it at a substantially lower rate as well as being non-union. The Windermere when acquired also saw the current staff let go and while some or m any tenants were irked, the issue did not "travel.") and that it is not about cost but about how best to manage this building over the long run with efficient high-level service. Nor has staff been reduced at Regent's Park- they will "stay alert and have a lot to do." Antheus' operational method often involves dispatched teams rather than resident staff.

Early in the week of Nov. 7, picket lines were set up by SEIU and Teamsters (by reports including much taunting) and in turn Antheus brought in Huffmaster Crisis Response Team. A few previous workers were brought back to handle building problems and or offered a lower rate.

Tenants' opinions from various MAC buildings continues to run the gamut from very pleased to displeased or apprehensive. Eli Ungar of Antheus invited tenants- and then the public- to an open meeting at Kenwood Academy Nov. 8. The front was reserved for tenants, and tenants' questions would be taken first. We understand that the very large audience consisted mainly of tenants.
Harry Osoff of 1537 News, who was there, offered as possible headline that the attendees "humbled [the] Hyde Park Apartment Giant." He said in a disseminated response that the large audience (he said half tenants) was very diverse in age (including UC students). The tenants were very much in solidarity with the workers and wanted them back, or treated humanely--the word "atonement," was used and there was much chanting, but it's an interpretation as to whether it was a hostile meeting, and the first concern of the tenants was safety-- employees who know what they are doing. Antheus said they had not anticipated all the issues and the real estate transaction was complex as far at staff went. They said they would get back to the tenants within a week.
SEVERAL TENANT FOCUS GROUPS were set up to meet on maintenance, parking, security, amenities, and health club operations.
Antheus headed the sign-up list with the following:
"Our goal as owners as Regents Park is to do our best to address issues of concern for you as residents of the building. To do this we need your insight as to how your experience can be enhanced. We believe small group meetings organized around various operational concerns can provide a deeper perspective on what is needed."
At least one tenant told this site that the tenants consider the focus groups to be a bogus joke. How many will participate once the settlement is in effect shall be seen, but the group's official position was that they will not talk to Antheus until the staff is back.

On the 7th day after the Nov. 8 meeting, a note was put under tenants' doors by Antheus that they are talking with the unions representing the fired workers.
ANTHEUS DID REACH AGREEMENT WITH TEAMSTERS LOCAL 727 TO REHIRE FOUR REGENTS THE FOUR GARAGE ATTENDANTS. THIS MAKES AT LEAST 7 REHIRED AS OF THE END OF NOVEMBER. THE REMAINING 40 OR SO, AFFILATED WITH OTHER UNIONS, MAY BE MORE COMPLEX. Ungar's letter quoted in the Nov. 30 Herald, said "We are continuing to work with the [SEIU] regarding the front doormen and the janitorial staff ... We are making progress, but these situations are more complicated and more time is needed to know if we can reach agreement." There is rumor that Antheus balked at rehiring one of the concierges, who is the steward and an activist. Teamsters has of course withdrawn its pickets.

____
The following is from or based on an update posted by Gary Rayl, a resident of Regents Park, and passed on by 1537 News. (It cannot be concluded that HPKCC necessarily endorses any action or participation, but follows with concern and hope for good resolution. GO)

[In response to a rumor that Antheus, then in negotiation with SEIU, did not want at least one employee returned to their job, residents flooded Antheus locally and in New Jersey with phone calls and emails.] The SEIU ... communicated to the graduate student leaders and RP residents group [thanks and] asked that all STOP CALLING and E-mailing Antheus and Regents Park ... so that the representatives of the company [could] devote all of their time to working with the SEIU to find a way forward that will be mutually agreeable.]

RP have an email list help.rp.workers@gmail.com [including to volunteer and share ideas.]
If you would like to join the list feel free to do so [or email garyrayl@mymdu.com.]
We are developing a demonstration plan using members of the list.
_______________

Note: MAC does NOT manage Regents Park.

 

Here is a good summary on the then Regents situation from the Chicago Maroon, January 6, 2011 by Monica Lagaard

Union representatives and owners of the Argents Park apartment complex reached an accord over winter break that returned jobs to most of the employees who were laid off last year, ending the sidewalk demonstrations and tensions that had embroiled the building for weeks.

Roughly 50 employees lost their jobs last October when Antheus Capital, the parent company of MAC Property Management , bought the building on 50 th Street and Lake Shore Drive from Crescent Heights. More than half have since returned to work, following a series of negotiations that took place in late November and early December.

Thirty of the 50 employees were under union contracts, and all were offered their old jobs. Of the 30, a few chose not to return, including maintenance workers and a door attendant, according to Eli Ungar, a patner at Antheus. Not all of the 20 non-union employees were offered jobs.

Crescent Heights sold teh building and laid off its employees before their union contacts had expired with the Serice Employees International Union (SEIU) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, according to Christopher Leach, a Regents residence since May who has spoken on behalf of the tenants against the move. Leach said that most employees were not aware that they were being let go until the night before they had to leave. The new staff began the next morning. "It would be customary for [Crescent Heights] to notify the employees that they wouldn't be employed any longer," Ungar said of the layoffs. "The fact that we didn't hire back those people immediately is what caused the frustration."

After Antheus did not rehire the employees immediately, and hired new employees instead, tenants sprang into action, calling a meeting that drew nearly 200 Regents residents and circulating a petition that garnered more than 700 signatures in two days, according to Leach. many tenants' comments were targeted toward MAC, though Ungar said that MAC does not manage Regents Park.

The original employees, alongside tenants, had been picketing in front of Regents Park since November 7. the protests continued until two settlements were reached. The first breakthrough was between the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Standard Parking, the company which Antheus had contracted to replace the parking attendants Crescent Heights had laid off. The teamsters union reached an agreement with Standard Parking that secured the attendants' jobs in late November.

A little over two weeks later, in mid-December, Antheus offered a new contract tot eh maintenance workers and door staff represented by SEIU, which most employees signed. The staff has returned to work smoothly, Leach said, but the controversy reached a fever pitch while negotiations were ongoing. During the protests, Ungar said he brought in private security to ensure that everyday services would be provided, which disturbed tenants. "I know [security's] presence was frustrating to some and unnerving to others," Ungar said. "Everybody was happy when that was no longer needed."

Ungar held a town meeting November 89 at Kenwood Academy in response to petitions, letters, phone calls, and e-mails about the layoffs. Ungar said that he understood attendees' concerns. "The residents of the building in a heartfelt and clear way showed their unhappiness and concern," he said.

Francois Tissot, a Regents resident since 2009, said that the original employees made the building pleasant and safe. "They took care of everything," he wrote in an e-mail. "I had never seen anything of the kind before." Third-year Matthew Memieux, who has lived in Regents since last June, said that th e layoffs were impractical. "Legality and morality aside it was pretty stupid. They fired people who had kept that place running for, say 20 years," he said. Many of the tenants cited a close relationship with employees. "They are family," Tissot said. "I trusted them, they were part of my life everyday, and everyday I was glad to see them."

Herald articles November 9, 2011

[Nov. 8 meeting:] Regents residents rally: Tenants demand employees rehired; Antheus Capital's Eli Ungar promises response within a week [Unger corrected to Ungar]

Antheus Capital founder Eli Ungar fielded questions from an auditorium of angry residents of Regents Park on Tuesday, promising quick, action as tenant after tenant took the microphone and demanded the reinstatement of the property's recently terminated employees. The meeting, called by Ungar, followed a tumultuous week and a half since Antheus acquired Regents on Oct. 28.

"This has been a remarkable experience for me," Ungar said of he nearly two-hour-long meeting held at Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., where the tenants filled the school's large auditorium and demanded the 1,023-unit property's workers get their jobs back. Crescent Height, the building's previous owner, notified the roughly 50 employees they were fired shortly after the sale.

"I will respond within a week," Ungar promised the crowd. "Could you come back in one week and tell me our people are coming back to work?" asked longtime Regents resident Lora Conwell, echoing the comments of many in the auditorium. "My demand is simple," agreed Moussa Traore, who has lived at Regents Park, 5020-50 S. Lake Shore Drive, for 8 years. "I think the people that have been let go have to come back."

Ungar stopped short of promising any employment, and cited a complicated negotiation as he explained his company's decision to replace roughly 75 percent of the staff with new hires. Through much of he negotiation process, Ungar said, "[w]e were prohibited from discussing employment with [the employees]."

Brian Phillips was one of the more vocal of the former employees at the meeting, shouting out questions to Ungar and taking the mike to thank the tenants. "We are all moved by the support you have shown us," Phillips said, choking up as he spoke and as the crowd leaped to its feet and applauded his comments.

While complaints about the new staff peppered comments from the audience, tenant after tenant echoed the refrain - "bring them back" - which was twice chanted by the group. "You have a remarkably uniform message for me," Ungar said.


Pickets at Regents.

Former employees of Regents Park, who were fired shortly before the property was sold to Antheus Capital recently, began picketing in front of the building last Monday. The group is demanding reinstatement and complaining that the abrupt end to their tenure... was no way to repay years of service.

"We just got fired on the spot -- no notification whatsoever," said Nathaniel McElrath-Bey, a longterm employee at Regents, who described arriving to work Oct. 28 to find his colleagues standing outside the building. They told McElrath-Bey they had been fired that morning by Crescent Heights... "We came Friday to work and they only said, 'Pick up your stuff and go home,'" recalled Irma Berber, who had worked at the property for 34 years.

In all, roughly 50 employees were fired by Crescent Heights; about 20 percent were rehired by Antheus. according to several sources, most of the rehired employees were administrators. None of the concierges, maintenance workers or parking lot attendants were rehired. One member of the maintenance crew has since been rehired, as well as two members of the security crew, according to Ungar.

Many of the former employees and other members of the Teamsters Local 727 and SEIU Local 1 held signs and waved to the honking horns of cars both coming out of the garage and passing by on Monday. Resident embrace the employees as they passed by, inquired after them and offered words of support. An employee of Regents Cup, the property's first-floor cafe, handed out free coffee to the picketers.

Ronna Case, a regular visitor to the health club at Regents, said the residents and visitors to the building had a strong connection to the former employees. "The people that worked there that I had contact with, they were like friends," Case added.

Service Employees International Local 1 Field Representative Doug Ball said the union wants the employees to get their jobs back. "You would hope that the employees would be reinstated," Ball said.

Fernando Carranco, who worked at the building for 11 years, said that he learned of the termination through a phone call form another employee. "They didn't bother telling us," Carranco said, and stated his hoped-for outcome of the picketing simply: "I want some kind of justice," Carranco said.


Chicago Weekly, November 17, 2011, gives more details. By Rachel Lazar [who discloses at end that she lives in a MAC building]
[Per corrections next issue, Peter Richter is Paul Richter, Armand Gracia is German Gracia. Mr. Ungar contested speculation and implied conclusions about his speeding away in a limo and notes he visits Chicago often. Especially important, the firm denies that any of the new employees come from temporary-hire firms- some did come over from MAC to work for the LLC Antheus set up to own an manage Regents Park (all its buildings are separate LLC's.) Chicago Weekly said it continues to post updates on the Regents Park story in its online edition, chicagoweekly.net.]

Without Notice: The Regents Park community rallies behind its dismissed workers

"It is clear how you feel about the new front desk staff," repeated Eli Ungar last Tuesday in the Kenwood Academy auditorium. Ungar, partner and principal of Antheus Capital LLC, directed his comment to a section of riled up Regents Park residents. On October 27, the building, located at 50th Street and Lake Shore Drive, was sold by Crescent Heights to Antheus, a Ne Jersey-based developer locally represented by its affiliate, MAC Property Management. The $160 million deal had been in the works since August, according to Crain's Chicago Business, but what that sale meant for the building's employees remained unclear until 6 pm on thursday, October 27. At the time, Paul Richter, who had been the building manager for the past 23 years, carried his things out the front door. "He exited the premises, and had a tear in his eye as he walked out," recalls Brian Phillips, a doorman who has worked at Regents Park for five years.

In spite of this bad omen, Phillips and Wes Allen, the other doorman on duty, remained at their posts until something strange occurred: A van of unfamiliar unformed staff arrived at the building."There were quick introductions, some very friendly-seeming guys, and the next moment we were being bombarded with questions," says Allen, who has worked at Regents Park for 19 years. "How much does a cab cost to downtown? What does this button do?'" Phillips shakes his head, continuing, "I've always tried to show that I'm excellent at what I do here. But then a light bulb went off--I realized that they were trying to get a crash course."

At 7:50 pm, the two doormen got a phone call from Richter. "He said that if we hadn't gotten a job offer from MAC, we should come back in the morning at 8 am to talk to Crescent Heights." When they started to leave, one of the new arrivals tried to stop them, imploring "Don't go!" Then, Phillips recalls with disgust, he asked them if they liked the nearby gelato and offered some coupons in exchange for a lesson on how to operate the front desk.

The Crescent Heights employees returned the next morning to find their posts at the front desk filed by strangers, and a stack of papers notifying them that MAC would not take on their current contracts. Through September and October, Crescent Height had given their employees only vague answers about what would happen to their jobs after ownership of the building was transferred. According to employee accounts of the events leading up to October 27, representatives from Crescent Heights told workers that MAC had "accepted" their contracts and they would "probably" be extended--though, they maintained, "they didn't know" for sure.

However, after the keys were turned over to MAC, about 50 employees were let go--including maintenance workers, security, garage attendants, and doormen. Coming in to work on the 28th, employees were met with a stack of dismissal letters--the only notification many of them received. For some, those dismissal letters were the only form of notification they received. "I'm teh bottom man here in terms of seniority," Brian Phillips says, having worked for only five years at Regents. "But some of these guys put in 23 years and it was all taken from them in twelve hours."

When Crescent Heights purchased the building from Clinton Management five years ago, the company decided to keep all the original staff. As a result, it was not anticipated that--as one resident calls it--a "hostile takeover" would occur. Although during this prior ownership transfer union members engaged Crescent Heights in collective bargaining, no such negotiations occurred between former employees and an the new owners. MAC insists that it has fulfilled all contractual obligations with Crescent Heights--there was no clause in the buy-sell agreement that required the old employees to stay on at the building. Sister Mary Rosen, a longtime resident, expressed the views of many tenants when she told Ungar, "What's legal is not always moral, and I don't want to be complicit in a grave social injustice."

On October 30, Regents Park residents--some of whom have lived there for three decades--came together in support of the terminated employees, flooding the lounge on the top floor. Over 90 percent of the building's occupants signed a petition expressing their "disapproval of the unjust dismissals of [the] concierge, garage and maintenance staffs, who "have done an excellent job" and are viewed as "friends, confidants, and extended family members." The petition calls for the reinstatement of fired staff if MAC hopes to "maintain harmonious relationships with [its] residents."

Antheus responded by flying Ungar out from New Jersey for the meeting at Kenwood Academy, where all teh seats in the residents' section were filled. The audinece had to be reminded by Wallace Good[e], [executive director] of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and moderator of the meeting, that Hyde Park has "a tradition of sitting discourse," and that all questions should be held until Ungar had said his piece.

Ungar began with a brief history of Antheus's rapid rise since 2002, emphasizing his organization's humble origins--from managing one building to owning almost a third of the real estate units in Hyde Park--and its contributions to the neighborhood. "We actively support numerous community organizations, including this school," Ungar began."We've paid for many of the seats you are sitting in, and given scholarships to many students." He made promises regarding various improvements to the building, insisting on his commitment to "preserving Regents Park as superlative." With regard to the staff overhaul, he maintained that his company "followed the letter of the law," but that "this was a complicated decision and not one [the company] entered into lightly." He gave examples of how Antheus has "reached out to many former employees" and tried to place them in positions at other MAC properties.

Phillips, the former doorman, shot up from his seat in the second row and had to wait for cheers to subside before addressing Ungar. "My call to the Algonquin was not returned," he said. "I suspect it's because of my pro-Union affiliation." The audience erupted into boos, compelling Ungar to reassure Phillips that ihs calls will be returned. Ungar reemphasized that Antheus has been making an effort to help out the Crescent Heights employees: some had been offered jobs, while those living in Regents received three months of free rent. One former employee, Armand Gracia, received the rent voucher and anew job offer, but he declined. The new position came with a lower wage.

Ungar's repeated promise that "the new staff will do superbly" if the residents "give them a chance" was met with both outrage and mockery. Resident after resident emphasized the closeness of the Regents Park community, the trust that was built over the years, and the existence of an extended family in the building. "You're not going to succeed until you return that goodwill," said Marly Rosenbush, a longtime resident.

Other tenants tried to communicate the new staff's incompetence, decrying the "foolishness" of the new staff who "run around like chickens with their heads cut off," unable to operate the handicapped doors and failing to fix broke sinks. Ungar responded" "We have worked hard over the last week and a half to understand the operation of the front desk, and I think we're getting better." More boos filled the auditorium.

Whether or not the transition was illegal, it may prove to have been a bad business move. "We're going to obliterate your ratings for Regents Park," said two suit-sporting law and business school students, referring to the building's Google reviews. "We won't stop until we make sure this building is empty."

Phillips and other members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local One have been picketing every day outside the building since November 7. On Saturday morning, they were eating doughnuts and coffee--gifts from the residents. "You just missed it," Philips said, pointing to the backed up driveway. "Two elderly people crashed into the wall--you can sees the dent there." There was a delayed response time from emergency services, he says, adding "The new staff gave the 5020 S. Lake Shore Drive address, but the one normally given to emergency services is 5025 S. Est End. Fire trucks and ambulances were circling around the building for a long time," No one was hurt, but "imagine if it had been something more serious," he tuts.

In response to a question over whether he thought Ungar would keep his word about the Algonquin job offer, Philips shakes his head. Gesturing over to the building's offices across the street, he claims, "They probably see me out here every day, and they don't like my jacket." Doug Ball, a SEIU union representative, adds that though the Algonquin has over 1000 employees, only four of them belong to a union. "And that's MAC's only unionized location."

both SEIU Local 1, which represents the concierge, doormen, and maintenance, and Teamster Local 727, which represents the garage attendants, plan to file charges against MAC for discriminating against unions in its hiring practices. Though the employees who were let go are both union and non-union, all of the new hires are "temporary employees hired temporary firms," according to Ball. "There's not one union member in there."

At Kenwood Academy last Tuesday, Ungar committed to responding to the residents' demands within a week. Wednesday morning, picketer saw him peed off in a limo to the airport. As of pres time, he still has not delivered a response about whether the old employees will be rehired.

Meanwhile, residents are fulfilling their promises: the online ratings for Regents Park have dropped, and community boards are buzzing with complaints, anecdotes, and open letters to Ungar. "We don't need six large security guards to protect us from our FRIENDS," one letter reads, referring t the security guards Antheus has hired to make sure the picketers don't get rowdy. "Your security force does nothing other than intimidate residents from talking to, embracing, and supporting men that we consider family." But from looking at the picket line, where residents often stop for a hug or to talk, it's clear that this family is doing its best not to be torn apart.

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The Health Club flap

In February the city closed the Regents Club to outsiders (i.e. licensing was denied) because of accessibility and other code issue, and Antheus was unable to persuade the city to provide an exception, or simply saw that a fair amount of time was needed for the issues to be fixed. Antheus will be redoing much of the first floor including the club to address accessibility and aesthetics. The club should reopen to the public in spring, 2013. Meanwhile, membership fees are being refunded.
Another issue: some small businesses leasing space in the building fear a major increase in rent may force relocation.

Herald, February 22. Regents flap: Owners: Gym long avoided necessary licensing. Sam Cholke

U.S. President Barack Obama should never have been allowed on the treadmills at the Regents Club gym at the Regents Park apartment in East Hyde Park.

According to the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, the 5020 S. Lake Shore Drive fitness center was never licensed and the treadmills, weights and pool should never have been open to anyone who did not live in Regents Park apartments. When Antheus Capital purchased the apartments in August, it discovered the paperwork for the president's former workout spot was missing. "We were aware that we could not find the elements we needed to run a health club," said Peter Cassel, director of community development for Antheus. When the new owners went downtown to locate and transfer the license, the city could find no history of a license, according to Cassel.

Regents Club does not require a license to open the facility to Regents Park apartments residents and they continue to have full access to the exercise facilities. But without a license, the club could not open the fitness center to the approximately 110 nonresident members. On Jan. 17, the city sent a letter to the Regents Club management saying that it would impose a fine of $200 to $109,000 beginning Feb. 16 for every day it continued to open its doors to nonresidents without first acquiring a limited business license.

The owners attempted to get a new license, but withdrew their application on Feb. 124, according to the city. Members reported receiving letters from Regents Club management informing them that their personal belongings must be removed by Feb. 17 and their unused membership fees would be returned. "It happened very suddenly," said [one nonresident member]....

According to the city, the Regents Club needed only to establish the occupancy of the space and set aside parking spaces for use by nonresident gym members. With space for 600 cars in the building, the parking requirement was a non-issue. The fitness center would not meet occupancy standards with its current set up, according to Cassel. he said there are a series of elements that need to be updated, adding that the space did not meet accessibility requirements and some rooms lacked proper exits. Because these issues could not be brought into compliance within 30 days, the management withdrew its application, according to Cassel.

"We would very much like to continue this activity and understand the hardship of the people who have used this over decades," Cassel said. The Regents Club will be brought up to city standards during a larger renovation of the building's first floor, according to Cassel. He said the fitness center would reapply for the license when construction is complete in the spring of 2013.


Letter from one of the non-residents given c. one day's notice to pick up your things, we're closed to outsiders.

Bonnie Brendel in the Herald Feb. 29, 2012- Something's wrong at Regent's Park, (This person was reacting before the excuses above were made, but the sense of outrage is clear.)

When are the citizens of Hyde Park going to protest the consumate over-taking of our community by out-of-state corporate interests? The latest travesty is the overnight closings of our Regents Park pool/health club to non-residents, some of whom have been facility members for decades. Families, students, citizens, physically and mentally compromised persons- all benefited from the programs in this club. They have been long-time relationships while at the pool and club, only to have this situarion terminated effective Fe.b 15 (having been informed by letter on or after Feb. 13) with no prior warning and no opportunity for community feedback.

This "now you see it, now you don't" modus operandi is not unlike the recent firing of many Regents Park employees who regained their positions only after ongoing confrontastion. This club has been the mainstay of many are folk's physical and social lives. They will be hard-pressed to replace it.

I cannot imagine that the Regents Park owners and managers could take such dramatic action without anticipating community upheaval. I, for one, do not understand the suspension of non-residents' memberships and do not understand the cavalier disrespectful way in which a community facility has beeen taken from us: du ont understand outside interests morphing our Hyde Park.


June 2012- complaints about Regents affordability go on as Antheus raises rent, ends student discount

According to the June 27 Herald, at least one student found upon attempt to renew his lease that the rent was increasing $400 a month and there is no more student discount once the lease has ended. Antheus' representative told the Herald that Regents rents were being brought up to those of similar buildings, with rents across Hyde Park going up. However, the student said he signed a lease in a nearby East Hyde Park building with comparable or better amenities (though the apartment was a little smaller) at his previous rent. The term of Regents rents is one year. The student asserted that Regents had been UC staff and student friendly, but that many were now being priced out.

 

Del Prado updates

The building, bought by Antheus in 2008 when it was largely project-based Section 8, was carefully researched and restored into studio, one-, and two-bedroom apartments. The unique lobby was restored. Work was difficult, including the 11" thick concrete floors. Zoning changes were needed to handle the rooftop additions from many years ago that once included the House Eng high scale restaurant and tavern. Opened in late 2011, the apartments were almost entirely leased by late spring 2012. All the retail is leased, although half the spaces will not be ready to open until at least fall 2012. Antheus also converted an ugly lot at 53rd and Cornell into an attactive, landscaped surface lot for tenants of the Del Prado, East View Park, and some other Antheus/MAC buildings.

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City Hyde Park moved to below.

Antheus's bet on Hyde Park rental seemed in 2010 to be paying off as demand and signings rose as their new units came on line. Apparently there are plenty who want and can afford upgraded units. And they are still buying development sites as well as large and small buildings.
As an example, residents started moving into the Del Prado September - 30% or 60 of 192 units As of end of the first week.

Chicago Tribune February 12 2012 feature on Antheus and Hyde Park- Developer making long-term bet. [Locals quoted]

From or based on article by Corilyn Shropshire

[Antheus interest in Hyde Park started with a single purchase at 47th and Ellis in 2002, reached a crescendo with purchase of 43 buildings for $135M in 2007 and in 2012 the empire comprised 89 buildings accounting for 4,500 units or (by their estimate) just under 20% of the rental stock- next behind U of C. Owners are Eli Ungar and David Gefsky who went into business together in 2002.]

Residents [of the neighborhoods] say they're concerned that Antheus may dramatically push up rents and force lower-income people of the areas between East 45th an 59 th Streets, and in the process turn the neighborhood into the Lincoln Park of the South Side. "You run the risk of them being the only game in town and rents shooting up sky-high if they own most of the buildings that were historically affordable,"* said Shannon Bennett, a lead organizer at the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, a social service group. Bennett said many of the buildings Antheus has acquired "were the last bastion of affordability for families who live here." [*Several of the buildings Antheus has bought were not in the affordable range, but were in mid range at least and have now become more upscale. Nor is Antheus the only buyer of affordable buildings in the game-- TLC being the largest in recent years.] Bennett said he's also worried about building maintenance by MAC Properties, the leasing and management arm of Antheus.

Others say changes sweeping rental housing make sense given that Hyde Park-Kenwood is trying to transform itself into a "hub of South Side economic growth as it once was before World War II," said David Hoyt, a resident and administrator of the "Hyde Park Progress" blog.

Ungar... says his company has been investing in Hyde Park because of its architecture, modern amenities and prime location. The allure of the neighborhood is obvious, he says, and includes parks, the lakefront and a world-class university. In some respects, Ungar's company is operating in lock step with the city of Chicago and the University of Chicago, which are re-building the East 53rd Street shopping strip.

Subsequently, Antheus also has embarked on an ambitious project: a mixed residential and retail development anchored by upscale grocer Whole Foods market at 51st Street and Lake Park Avenue, a project called City Hyde Park, which Ungar sees as a gateway to Hyde Park. He hired MacArthur Fellowship winner Jeanne Gang to design the complex, which includes 125,000 square feet of commercial space and 179 apartments. This month, a small group of residents gathered at the Hyde Park Art Center to see Gangs' designs. While several praised the scale and beauty of Gang's wok, some residents said they were worried that the project might alter Hyde Park's quirky, small-town feel. And others were concerned about Antheus' plans to ask the city for$10 million in financial assistance -- money the company initially said it wouldn't seek. Funding would come from [via] the 53rd Street tax increment financing (TIF) district.

"You are using TIF money for huge projects that are forcing independent business owners who have been in Hyde Park for generations in some cases to close," said resident S. Beth Thomas. "You want to make Hyde Park look like a world-class neighborhood, but my concern is the people who are being displaced," she said.

Development costs have climbed $25 million since the project was first proposed, to around $145 million. "We'd expected to be able to borrow a greater expense of the total costs, but the reality of construction lending these days is that we will not be able to do that," Peter Cassel, director of of Antheus' development arm, told attendees. Antheus plans to seek about $15 billion in new tax credits and borrow $80 million; it will put up $40 million. Ungar, who did not attend the meeting, said the company had no choice but to seek financial assistance from the city. "It's no cheaper to build in Hyde Park than downtown Chicago," he said. "An the rents aren't nearly as high," he said, suggesting that the company won't be able to charge as much as if the project were in a better location. Without the TIF money, Ungar said, the project won't happen.

He blames the project's higher price tag, in part on construction and design costs. An underground parking lot, which he says is "aesthetically more desirable," is more expensive. He also notes that roughly 20 percent of the rental units wil be set aside for families whose income is less than 60 percent of teh median area income.

Antheus has been backed in some projects by heavy hitters, including Jeffrey Keswin, a co-founder of Greenlight Capital, the New York hedge fund known for the money it made of the Lehman Bros. demise. Keswin... now manages Lyrical Partners, a New York-based investment fund that invests in other hedge funds.

Antheus has some work to do to restore its image in Hyde Park. Soon after Antheus bought regents Park Apartments for $159 million in the fall, fireworks erupted. Tenants were furious that longtime employees were fired and replaced. Unions, representing the former employees, picketed. The building, residents complained, had become unsafe. At a forum after the sale, Ungar fielded complaints. A month later, things calmed down. Most of teh employees were rehired. "Antheus took over the building in away that didn't regard the tenants' needs," said resident Christopher Mortorff, who plans to move...

It wasn't the first time residents revolted against MAC. Ungar has stepped in to quell previous conflicts when Antheus purchased the Sutherland at 4659 S. Drexel Blvd and the Windermere at 1642 E. 56th St. "MAC has a history of making really dumb decisions when they acquire new properties and having to back down when its' a public relations disaster," said George Rumsey, and affordable housing advocate and former president of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. Ungar, 44, often plays "good cop" and flies in to rescue MAC, using his affable personality to calm residents' ire. "He knows how to feel your pain," Rumsey said. "He'll say, 'Let met lok at it' and calls and takes people to lunch."

Ungar said the company is trying to do its best: "We are committed to continuing to improve for the benefit of our residents and for our community." Ungar said he spends on average two nights a week in Chicago scouting for new properties. He discovered Hyde Park in he '90s while living in Lincoln Park and later Evanston, and working for a suburban developer. For years he and Gefsky, who grew up with Ungar's wife in Pittsburgh, talked about going into business together. In 2002, the pair bought the building on Ellis Avenue. "As we studied we became more and more excited about the neighborhood," Ungar said. [Their similar cluster in Kansas City is also by a university and medical center.] "The goal," Ungar said, "it to try to identify a small number of neighborhoods that we believe over the next two or three decades wil be good environments to own and operate buildings."

 

 

May 2011- Antheus rehabs marching forward

Herald, May 4, 2011. By Sam Cholke

With public attention directed towards the redevelopment of the Harper Court shopping center, it has been easy to miss recent major progress at key locations under development by Antheus Capital, the largest property owner in Hyde Park. The New-Jersey-based Antheus Capital, and its Silliman Group development and MAC Properties management arms, control dozens of properties in Hydd Park, including historic residential high-rises and major commercial properties. The firm has a large rehab project slated to come online in coming months, while large building projects remain stuck in planning.

The Del Prado, the historic high-rise hotel that was left to deteriorate by its previous owner, will reopen in late spring and be reoccupied in the fall. Residents of the 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd. building were moved out in 2008 and the building gutted to redo electrical and plumbing systems [and much space reconfigured]. The building will reopen with its two ballrooms rehabbed for potential restaurateurs.

At the former hotel and University of Chicago dormitory, the Shoreland, rehab will begin this spring. The city has signed off on much of the project and is currently reviewing building permits. The process may be slow because plans call for excavating for an underground parking garage for teh 5484 S. South Shore Dr. building. Interior demolition will begin in the coming weeks.

Demolition continues at the Sutherland, a former military hospital and hotel at 4659 S. Drexel Blvd. Antheus encountered resistance from community groups and building residents when it first bought the property and proposed removing much of the subsidized housing. After negotiations, a portion of affordable housing will remain through 2018 and tenants were given assistance moving. Though a hair salon on the first floor of the building closed, a Chinese restaurant will continue to operate during renovations.

While rehab plans move forward, little progress has been made in Antheus' new building projects. The redevelopment of the Village shopping center at the southwest corner of South Lake Park Avenue and East Hyde Park Boulevard remain in early planning stages. Peter Cassel, director of community development for Antheus, said they are not ready to apply for building permits and several tenants have leases they intend to honor. He said the earliest any work could begin on the site is fall 2012. The plan calls for a residential high-rise and several stories of retail on the property.

Solstice on the Park, a residential high-rise designed by the esteemed Studio Gang Architects, remains stalled. The planned 26-story building at East 56th Street and South Cornell Avenue suffered with many other residential projects during the economic downturn. No work will begin during the summer construction period, according to Cassel.

Antheus continues to negotiate the purchase of a lot at East 53rd Street and South Cornell Avenue, previously slated for a mixed-use high-rise project by L3 Development, which has since shuttered. Once the sale is closed, Antheus plans to install a surface parking lot while it hashes out more ambitious plans for the site.

Antheus has a number of smaller prject's in various stages of development. Several of its west Hyde Park properties continue to undergo small improvements, but all remain occupied. There are no immediate plans for three gray-stone buildings across South Harper Avenue from the Village site, according to Cassel.

Cassel said rental demand remains strong in Hyde Park and the firm is currently searching for commercial tenants for many of its properties, including the Del Prado and East Park Tower at 5242 S. Hyde Park Blvd.

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Perspectives on developments and affordability

Eli Ungar, leader of Antheus Capital and associated MAC Properties, came to discuss and answer questions at a community forum and discussion October 16, 2007, sponsored by HPKCC. (Report will be posted as soon as available.) Therefore, this website has assembled in this page what Mr. Ungar has said and others have said about his group's varied realty purchases and plans in the neighborhood starting in 2002. Antheus is based in New Jersey and is active in a number of cities. Projects range from varied rental housing assemblages and management to construction of condominium and other housing buildings (including a few towers) to retail developments. The core activity to date here are 1) assemblage of a proportionately substantial block of small and large rental buildings both scattered and in elongated clusters, 2) plans for a 26-story condo tower at 56th and Cornell in conjunction with the Windermere House, 3) as-yet undetermined plan for redevelopment of Village Center Shopping Center at 51st and Lake Park. All have both fascinated the community and become lightning rods, including apparently to Alderman Preckwinkle.

MAC Properties won high marks for creatively using spaces awaiting redevelopment or lease, such as its former hq at 1613 E. 55th St. at the end of 2009, it leased the space for the Op Shop innovative art and thrift store and creative and event space. The latter is likely to move to another MAC space and 1613 be prepared for a new tenant (said to be leased).

Antheus/MAC Properties has hooked up (2010) with Heartland Alliance for a part of its building maintenance crews (10 persons). This is due to the state's "Putting Illinois to Work" program. Antheus will train. The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce pointed Antheus to Heartland, which administers at least part of the state program. Not said is whether this for a term or whether the crew members will or may become MAC employees.

September 2010, Antheus was reported to be buying a set of 5 buildings from a property owner known as Williams, with 115 reputedly currently affordable units. 3 are in Hyde Park-Kenwood, one is north of 47th, and one is in Washington Park. 5229-31 S. Drexel, 5049-57 S. Drexel, 918-20 E. Hyde Park Blvd, 4851-59 S. Champlain, 4451-59 S. Greenwood


MAC acquires big property block, potentially affecting neighborhood housing, quality directions- 2007.

MAC Properties (assoc. Antheus Capital of N.J.) adds 43 K& G and 4 other buildings in area, tripling its holdings and becoming one of the largest owners in Hyde Park. Known for rehabbing housing into quality rental; but there are questions about affordable components of the neighborhood--K & G was a major renter to students, though upkeep, service were at times questioned. Down the line some buildings could be sold or go condo. There is no doubt that Antheus and MAC are now major forces in Hyde Park.

Antheus Capital took out a $123 million 10-year loan to complete its purchase of 43 buildings and rehab (Note, 5 on Drexel/ 5600 block that have preservation easements on them were since sold to U of C). A resident asserted that rehab of all the remaining buildings would drive up rents, threatening affordability.

The Hyde Park Herald and the Chicago Maroon reported during the week of April 1 2007 on the March 29 closure of sale of the 43 K & G residential buildings, and 4 other residential buildings, in Hyde Park-Kenwood. Counting its 23 or so buildings already bought in the previous five years (since 2002), MAC now has more than 70 buildings in the area (2800 units), making it one of the largest (non- U of C) owners in the neighborhood. MAC's previous properties, shown previously by the company at public meetings, ran in two wide swaths, south southeast from 51st and Lake Park (Village Center) along Cornell and S. Hyde Park to the Windermere at 56th and Cornell, where it plans to build a 26 story condo building on the parking lot; there is another swath approximately along 53rd southwestward. Locations and concentrations of John McGarry's K & G properties were not disclosed in the media articles. The other buildings bought were two on Woodlawn, one on Greenwood and one on Kimbark, which will remain rental.

Eli Ungar, a lead manager and investor for MAC, had said they are keeping the rental buildings rental, although they now say nothing is forever. Nothing was said about how many and how much buildings would be upgraded or rehabbed, but that K & G had a discerning eye and acquired a portfolio of good, "quintessential Chicago" graystone buildings, mainly 3 and 4 flat, and had preserved many (from tear down?—he did seek upgrade funding for several through selling easement to Landmarks Illinois). MAC would have to take time to decide what to do with each building; some down the line could be sold or turned into condos. Meanwhile, as is Antheus practice, each building will be owned by a separate LLC and managed by MAC, which is moving its office and staff of 60 (at least one from K and G) to the former Day and Nite store in the 1600 block of E. 55th Street.

Asked why the heavy investment in Hyde Park, Ungar told the Herald he studied the area's demographics and thought Hyde Park is a strong market for investing in apartments but not as strong for condominiums as some other parts of Chicago and has little new construction.

Alderman Hairston told the Herald she is pleased MAC will be holding this large block of housing as rental; that there are not enough rental units in Hyde Park, and that the commitment to keep the units rental addresses gentrification fears. [Editor--the latter depends on whether and how many of the units are substantially rehabbed into middle high or high-end rental vs. fixing up as affordable and mixed income rental and managing well.] Gary Ossewaarde, of HPKCC and reflecting discussion with Mr. Ungar at a HPKCC Board meting earlier this year, but speaking for himself, was quoted in the Maroon, "Clearly, they remake the buildings and charge higher rents...On the one hand, it renews the stock; on the other hand, it narrows the affordability in those buildings and the neighborhood." At the vary least, the exterior of many including the brass plaques installed look more classy and desirable than in the past.

On the other hand, vacancies (retail and residential) in many of the MAC buildings as will as others particularly in East Hyde Park, was cited (rightly or wrongly) as contributing to and reflecting a sense that the neighborhood is on the skids rather than on the verge of a gentrification convulsion such as some others fear.

Students of the University had lots of questions for the new manager after they received their notices of change in management and payout of interest on security deposits. The Maroon reported that students interviewed said their K & G apartments are in poor physical condition. Some said service was poor, others that service had been good.

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MAC Property's statement of mission in adds such as for Windermere leases. " MAC Property Management is committed to providing exemplary living experiences, the highest possible quality of service and a superior value for our residents. We focus on restoring and renovating our buildings, while adding modern amenities for today's lifestyles. Improving our properties benefits residents, as well as growing Hyde Park Community." They do offer student discounts.

In August 2007 Mary Rose Shaughnessy wrote a letter (following) to the Herald citing possible negative outcomes of the concentration of properties with MAC, the kinds of upgrades and rent increases underway, and inquiring of/challenging MAC/Antheus premises. Much of the material came from Antheus’ own website. (See letter below.) At least two rebuttals (by Mr. Samuelson and Mr. Perovic and an indirect by another) also appeared in the Herald, also printed below. Ms. Shaughnessy subsequently met with Mr. Ungar of Antheus, which she indicated went well, and at which Mr. Ungar offered to meet with the community on concerns, vision and ideas; a meeting set up under HPKCC auspices for Tuesday, October 16, 7 pm at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club.

 

Letter of Mary Rose Shaughnessy. Herald, July 25 2007 [For contrary views or more discussion, see letter of Edward Perovic, following. See also the 56th Cornell and Village Center pages and High Rises and Conversions.]

Whoa--is this a Mac Management invasion?

Whoa! What's going on in our Hyde Park? Have you noticed all the Mac Management signs around Hyde Park? Have you heard of Antheus Capital LLC? You should know that this corporation owns over 80 properties in Hyde Park, managed by Mac Management. Take a look at the website of their holdings in Hyde Park: http://www.macapartments.com/mac/a_ch_hp_overview.html.

Be sure to click on the Property List by Address link to see the specific buildings. Chances are you live in or nest door to one of his properties. I do.

Does this look like it's getting to be a monopoly? O, yes, now you remember. Isn't Antheus Capital the one who has big plans for the Village Center? And the Windermere? And isn't it the one planning to put up that tower next to Bret Harte School?

If Antheus Capital continues unchecked--it may end up owning more of Hyde Park than the University of Chicago.

What's wrong with this, you ask? Do we want one man, Eli Ungar of Englewood, New Jersey to have a monopoly in Hyde Park?

We wonder what plans has he got for us? Well, to begin with, he thinks we need more expensive condos. "There are very few options for people interested in a highly amenitized, well-located condo building in Hyde Park," he said about the new tower at 56th Street and Cornell Avenue. "There's been very little new construction of residential buildings in Hyde Park," he claims.

Apparently he missed the highly amenitized new residential developments that have gradually filled every inch of Hyde Park before he arrived in 2002.

Can higher real estate taxes be far behind? And judging from the steel and glass tower he plans for the parking lot next to Bret Harte, he has no idea of what architecture is appropriate to Hyde Park.

Ungar also does not seem to understand the character of the community. Hyde Park has never been a bedroom community of short-termers who come for a few years to work and then move on. Yet that is what Hyde Park could become if the middle-income renters have to move out because they can't afford the new rents after he upgrades his rental properties, as he is doing with the Algonquin Apartments. "Stainless steel appliances, including a dishwasher, are surrounded by granite counter, granite backsplashes and white laminate cabinets. Translucent doors that match the hall closet enclose one pair of cabinets. White subway tiles line the kitchen's far wall, and dark beige ceramic tiles cover the floor," according to Janice Rosenberg in a "Special to the Tribune" March 18.

Stainless steel and granite counters will mean middle-class residents and seniors who are already paying almost half of their income to live in the Algonquin will have to leave. Does he plan to "amenitize" all the 80+ buildings Antheus owns in Hyde Park?

Do we want upgraded buildings at the expense of our long term neighbors? Do we want Hyde Park to become Evanston-on-the-Midway? Do we want to drive out the middle class from Hyde Park? Do we want our real-estate taxes going through the roof?

Is Mr. Ungar interested in us, or is he only interested in the profit that can be made from hot properties for his corporation?

[Ed.: Others emphasize how bad a condition many of K & G's buildings were in and have seen nothing but improvements and only modest rent increases of about 6% so far. There is no doubt that MAC has the ability and presence to be a power and trendsetter in the local realty market and building management.

The Algonquin Antheus buildings seem to have more problems. Delays, partly due to more abatement problems than anticipated, cash flow problems, elimination of union and other knowledgeable staff (which is said to be stretched thin), some steep rent increases, lack of information and communication above all have led to serious concern by tenants, some of whom fear the middle class are being given the bums rush. There is also concern that Antheus/MAC may have acquired too much too fast, have too large a proportion of properties (their proportion is unconfirmed), perhaps have an investment and write-off agenda that could leave abandoned or messed up buildings should markets and other conditions turn sour.]

Shaughnessy adds in letter to the Herald of October 3, 2007:

..Antheus Capital now owns more than 85 properties in Hyde Park--making it the second largest property owner after the University of Chicago. Eli Ungar is good to give us his time to answer our questions about what he has in mind for Hyde Park in the future. Let us take advantage of his willingness to listen and ask him questions. Let us ask him what he plans for all these properties, aside from making a big profit.

Remember that Antheus is an investment capital organization, that Mr. Ungar is from Englewood, N.J., and that his investors are not local. What's in all this for Hyde Park?

He claims he intends to "upgrade" the buildings. That would be nice, but what if it means "upgrading" the rents to the point where middle-class renters ($30,000 to $50,000 annual income) can't afford to live in Hyde Park any longer? Are we going to like losing all these long-time Hyde Parkers who make the community stable and interesting and becoming more of a bedroom community for short-termers?

Hyde Park has been a unique community since its beginning. Do we want to lose our uniqueness just to be upgraded with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances?

There are many sides to "upgrades," not all of which are pleasant, and we need to confront them now, before they happen, with the man who has control over our future.

Let us put forth our case for maintaining Hyde Park's uniqueness as a community. For those of us who don't rent, let us keep in mind that along with the rents going up, our property taxes will go up.

Please come on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m., to the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club.

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Joseph Samuelson says we can live with Mac Mgt. invasion, says it offers much improvement over previous owner's neglect.

Without even looking in the White Pages, it was clear that Mary Rose Shaughnessy does not live in a previously owned K&G Building now owned by MAC. Having visited many such buildings in my search for a home in Hyde Park, I was disgusted by the way they were kept. In typical Hyde Park fashion, any time there is a change for the better, people kick and scream.

Thankfully we live in a free society. Clearly the owner of K&G saw a lucrative deal when he sold his properties to Mr. Eli Ungar and so did Mr. Ungar. If Ms. Shaughnessy does not approve of people owning all this property, perhaps she should rethink the values of living in this country. Besides, instead of instead of screaming about Mr. Ungar, why doesn't she address her complaints to the owner of K&G who sold them to him? How is it that she doesn't question his motives or interests?

I have had enough of people in this neighborhood trying to prevent Hyde Park from coming out of the Middle Ages. Of course we need a hotel in Hyde Park We have only one badly run facility and everyone else stays downtown. And then we cry when stores and businesses are leaving the neighborhood.

And of course we need a new supermarket. Why on earth do we need a Cooperative? We do not live in the '50s anymore and we are all worse off clinging to this old mismanaged institution that hasn't paid dividends or lowered its prices in years. Of course the big guys can do it better than a small operation like the Coop. It is time to bring in a Dominick's or Jewel that can bring a pleasant shopping experience and decent prices. Notice I did not write Wal-Mart, although that would be amazing.)

And finally, Hyde Parkers tend to forget that we border very poor neighborhoods, and of course we need the Olympics in Washington Park as a chance to revitalize the South Side. It is about time we got on board and thought about ways to assist and benefit from these developments instead of kicking and screaming. They will happen anyway, and it is up to us to be proud of our assistance and input or be humiliated by their success.

Edward Perovic says Some development needs to happen in Hyde Park, community input becoming community roadblock. Herald, July 25, 2007

The front page of the Hyde Park Herald on July 18 would be comical if it didn't reflect a sad truth about our community. The three front page stories carried the following texts "Residents reject high-rise proposal for Mobil-McDonald's site;" JPAC says no to Olympics;" "Open meeting to be held for Doctors Hospital" and "Whether public approval will be given to demolish." Letters to the Editor offered more of the same.

"Community input" in Hyde Park is becoming "Community roadblock. "Every time a developer or the university proposes a new project, there is immediate outcry. for decades, all these outcries have produced is more vacant lots and boarded-up buildings. Meanwhile, we Hyde Parkers continue to do our shopping, eating and movie-going outside the neighborhood.

While the South Loop and practically every other community in Chicago has seen a dramatic increase in retail and entertainment offerings, we have seen an increase in empty storefronts. Hyde Park's reputation has become one of anti-development and anti-retail. The lack of restaurants and basic necessity retailers speaks volumes. You can create all the TIFs in the world but if retailers are chased away by "community input," the TIFs become useless. It's difficult to raise property taxes on vacant storefronts.

I have spoken to several friends (all Hyde Parkers) after the Herald broke the news about the Doctors Hospital being replaced by a hotel. The consensus was that it's a wonderful idea. Makes perfect sense to have a hotel so close to the museum as well as to serve the visitors to the university and hospitals. The idea of a possible "quality restaurant" within the hotel was exciting (not so much for yet another Starbucks, however!)

My point being that there are many Hyde Parkers who are tired of driving by vacant lots and boarded-up buildings on our way to the north side to watch a movie and do our shopping.

Should the university or developers be given carte blanche when it comes to their projects? Of course not. The first and foremost concern should be parking. Developers should be given notice that Hyde Park welcomes development as long a your development can facilitate the parking needs of your project without creating a parking burden to existing neighbors. Anything beyond that is trivial. Not everyone in a community can be satisfied with any given project.

Surely we can create win-win situations with developers that will bring Hyde Park into the 21st century without sacrificing our academic and cultural traditions. a high-rise or two may be the price we need to pay but it is in all of our interests to set aside the roadblocks and create real community input that will revitalize our wonderful and unique neighborhood.


Does HP have a perceptual land use dilemma- perceptions of density vs bus. development?

Sylvia Telser writes the August 1 Herald:

Hyde Parkers want successful stores offering a range of products at reasonable prices. Hyde Parkers do not want high-rise development built on currently empty lots and boarded up buildings.

Go to the South Loop and points north and what does one see? Many successful stores bustling with customers. Whence come these paying customers? From the high density high-rise developments surrounding the retailers. It takes a critical mass of population to support purveyors of goods profitably. Will Hyde Parkers ever resolve this dilemma?


More takes on the possible impact of Antheus, from our Affordability page:

Countervailing the condo conversion trend: niche rental marketers. And disapproval of the thesis that the only way to get property renewal and upgrade is through conversion. (The question is still there, "affordable to whom?", but the units are clearly affordable to many who are well off but not rich.)

In addition to the many retailers that cater to the student renter, and some who provide distinctive middle-income small apartments, are those who say they will not convert but will continue to offer higher end rental apartments. One is MAC Properties, associated with the same New Jersey firm (Antheus Capital) that recently bought the Algonquin Apartments, which now is declared to be staying rental. Another is Regents Park, whose new owners backed away from prospects of going condo (although they reportedly cut services and staff as well).

MAC Properties is buying the famed and landmarked Windermere House from Metroplex; there appears no likelihood of its going condo and will probably add a regional epilepsy and brain disorder imaging and treatment center in conjunction with the University of Chicago Hospitals.

Re the Algonquin, the Herald reported* (Daniel J. Yovich) October 4 2006 that:

The owners of the Algonquin Apartment buildings are continuing an extensive rehab and remodeling project begun by the previous owners and say they have no plans to convert the Mies van der Rohe-designed building to condominiums. "We are in the process of renovating the first two of the (six) building and intend to renovate all of the buildings in the next year or two," said Susie Charendoff, a spokeswoman for Algonquin Management LLC. "We anticipate completing the first units later this year and they will be available for rent. We have no intentions of converting the property to condominiums."

Erroneous speculation and rumor of an impending Algonquin condo conversion have recently made the rounds among Hyde Park real estate and financial circles. The property was purchased from the Habitat Company in February, which had publicly said in 2005 it had plans to convert the 414-unit, six-building complex to condos.

Some Algonquin tenants have been asked to relocate to other buildings as the renovation continues. ... A new fitness facility for the complex is also planned... But some Algonquin residents point to reduced service, holdups on improvements, and rumors of really big rent increases (only 6% to date).

*according to a knowledgeable source contacted, not every detail is right, but the tenor is.)

A bit of reality from the developers of 56th and Cornell (Antheus).

Asked [at the January 4th HPKCC board meeting] about prospects for “affordable” units, the developers said that the market makes it very difficult to build new structures containing affordable owner units, and new rental buildings are completely out of the question in Hyde Park or nearby (none having been built since 1969). The replacement cost for a $5 million-priced building is $15 million and assessments and taxes for similar buildings vary enormously. Programs designed to help, such as Section 8 and Class 9 have now gotten out of balance, so that only desperate landlords will use them---until they convert the building to condos, and those that have a good market for their units will turn down prospective occupiers under these programs who won’t or can’t pay market prices or rents no matter who goes to bat for them. Section 8 at present is not profitable to landlords and is tied up in inspections and other bureaucracy. (Class 9 subsidizes 20 percent (was 33%) for multiple-unit and $16% for single-occupant structures and involves tax breaks if the units are upgraded—but this is no longer profitable and is inappropriate for an owner building, the board was told. Landlords are phasing out of Class 9.) Top


David L. Hoyt gives a tongue-in-cheek reaction to negative comments on the 56th Cornell development in "Save the parking lot." Mr. Hoyt hosts the blog "HydeParkProgress@blogspot.com."

I would like to announce the formation of a "Committee to save the Parking Lot" at the northwest intersection of 56th Street and Cornell Avenue This parking lot, a precious relic of urban renewal, may be destroyed forever if plans for a 26-story residential high-rise on the site go through.

The committee stand on the principle that the auto-oriented nature of our city should be preserved, and that plentiful parking lots are the best way to do this. Parking lots reduce congestion by getting cars off the street. A tall building near bus lines and a Metra station would only mean more people would use public transportation. The bus and trains are too crowded anyway, so we don't need more people using them.

The Committee also feels that the proposed structure would attract relatively high-income households. Because these are the types of people who tend to have disposable income, they would probably spend it in our neighborhood. This would only reinvigorate local business, leading to a further reduction in the charming variety of vacant storefronts and marginal retail services we have worked so hard to preserve.

Most importantly, studies show that school children have more fun when they have recess on a playground next to a nice clean parking lot than when they play beside a tall building.

Organizations such as the Congress for New Urbanism and the American Planning Association would have us believe that cities prosper most when they are dense and not like suburbs; that higher residential densities shift traffic from cars to public transportation thereby reducing congestion; and that "transit-oriented development" stimulates local business, makes neighborhoods safer, and gives cities a vibrant, "urban" feeling.

The Committee finds this ridiculous and objects to all of it. Please act now to save our parking lot heritage.

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In early 2008 concerns and confusion by student renters continued.

Based on Maroon January 11 article by Rhema Hokama

At the start of the new year, many MAC tenants received letters returning security deposits, which MAC says it will no longer require and keep. Instead, renters will pay a non refundable but much smaller Move in fee. Many continue to say that convulsion continues and has to be constantly straightened out and that maintenance remains behind.

Maroon Oct. 12 2007 says (many) tenants bemoan MAC management

By Claire Wilcox

When fourth-year Zach Herz started the Facebook group "Why Yes, I Too Have Threatened MAC with Legal Action," it was just intended as an inside joke between some friends. But the group's membership has quickly ballooned to more than 50 students since its inception, with frustrated tenants posting a litany of complaints, including missing mailbox keys, lost rent checks, filthy apartments, unfounded eviction notices, and unreturned phone calls.

The group stemmed from Herz's own experience with MAC Property Management, which became Hyde Park's largest realtor after buying housing management firm K & G last April. "They lost our security deposit three times. They called by roommate and asked what the check looked like," Herz said. "Then they threatened to show our apartment to other people while we were living there."

He, in turn, then threatened legal action, claiming that MAC would be breaking the housing code by showing their occupied apartment to prospective parties. Both leasing agents and Chicago-based MAC executives declined to comment for this article, citing company policy.

Though not universal, these gripes are commonplace among MAC tenants, and Herz's Facebook group is one indicator that MAC may not be a significant improvement of K & G's notoriously substandard practices. "I've heard from my roommates that while K & G would always find the cheapest way to do repairs, they at least did them promptly," said third-year Hannah Jacoby, another student tenant, in an e-mail interview. "MAC is absolutely non-responsive when we file work orders with them. Usually things don't get done until we threaten some sort of legal action or refuse to pay rent."

Still, tenants who have experienced problems are not all quick to blame MAC. Third-year Ilana Tabby, a former K & G tenant, believes that MAC's difficulties are due to a bad inheritance. "I think that MAC didn't see see all the apartments before buying them from K & G," she said, citing missing kitchen drawers and broken screens in her apartment. "But they've been really responsive. I think a lot of it doesn't have to do with the realtor. If there's an issue we can contact them about it."

The poor physical conditions of the newly acquired buildings present a formidable challenge, which MAC is attempting to address through large repairs to buildings across Hyde Park. Still, MAC's problems seem to stem significantly from internal disorganization, said residents whose documents were lost.

"MAC" is well intentioned," said Herz. "If you're able to get a hold of them, they really do want to help, but they're not really professional. I had to start making my own copies, and they don't keep track of papers."

In addition to the merger with K & G, MAC has changed primary apartment management offices numerous times in the past year. "Too often they're pining things on the tenants," said Emilie Shumway, a second-year in the College and a first-time apartment tenant. "I feel like they're trying to take advantage of students who they think don't know anything about their rights. We didn't know we could ask for things like blinds until our maintenance guy told us."

Jacoby echoed the frustration and believes that MAC's singular hold over Hyde Park real estate was to blame. "It really has reinforce the importance of tenant solidarity in my mind," said Jacoby. "If all MAC residents were to have a rent strike until they shaped up, things would likely change. They have no competition in Hyde Park, so there is no motivation for them to improve the quality of their work. I think a coalition of MAC tenants would be hugely helpful in fixing these problems."

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MAC tells Maroon its rent, other plans in April 2008 as forum planned with HPKCC for May 6

MAC Property to phase in rent hikes. Some rents to increase 15 percent

Chicago Maroon, April 18, 2008. By Claire McNear

A year after acquiring the properties previously owned by K&G Management, Hyde Park's largest realtor, MAC Property Management, has begun a phased increase of unit rental fees. The increases, which are as high as 15 percent for some properties, affect a number of units across Hyde Park, although the majority will not face any changes--yet.

"We are not raising every MAC unit this year," said Peter Cassel, the MAC director of community development. He noted, however, that "over the course of the next few years, the rent of all units will be increased," except for select units where the rent is tied to residents' incomes based on agreements made with local affordable-housing groups and local government.

These changes stem from a combination of factors, Cassel said, including higher demand for property, improvements made to Hyde Park buildings, and unusually low rent.

"We saw many of the owners of the apartments [previously controlled by K&G] paying more than 25 percent under market price. In those cases when there was a significant difference between the market price and what they were paying, we did not raise anyone's rent more than 15 percent."

"For K&G units, their year started in April, or their year started in August," Cassel said. "So when we purchased those units, all of them had one of those expiration dates. This is really our first opportunity to look at the rent and, when appropriate, make changes."

MAC's changes encompass more than rent increases. MAC, which presently manages more than 300 apartments in approximately 70 buildings throughout Hyde Park, is continuing to acquire new properties, including a building on South University Avenue that sits opposite Henry Crown Field House.

Additionally, unlike other former Hyde Park property owners, MAC has its own on-call maintenance department, through which resident can file work orders. While recognizing that maintenance service has been subpar in the past, Cassel said that, "[Now] almost all our work orders are satisfied within a day. That level of service has some cost to it."

"I'd be able to meet [the raised rent] because you have to, really," said Cheryl Luce, a third-year student and MAC tenant. "There's really no choice."

"It's just further gentrification," said Hilary Dick, a postdoctoral fellow at the University who also rents from MAC. "It's going to force poor people out of the neighborhood even more. There should not be less affordable housing."

MAC contends that the overall costs of units are, for the most part, not actually on the rise. "For example, we put in more efficient windows which helped control heating costs. While the rent may be going up, the total cost of the apartment is not," he added.

Some residents, however, dispute the motivations behind these repair, suspecting that they're done to justify raising rents. "That's the thing I hate worst about MAC...they mask themselves as honest, legitimate business, and then they do things like this," Luce said.

"We recognize that rent increases are difficult for everyone," Cassel said. "It's much the same as we see gas prices gone up, food prices going up. We see local taxes going up. All of those things impact us. we would like to be in a world where there weren't rising costs, but that is not the case," he said.

In the downtown Chicago apartment market, average rental costs have risen more than 10 percent in the last year, following a 13-percent increase in 2006 and prompting Crain's Chicago Business to label this "a good time to be a landlord." With no new units built in Hyde Park in the last decade except for the University's graduate-student housing, demand for units near campus has remained steadily forceful.

Cassel encouraged resident to attend the upcoming public forum at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, at which MAC president Eli Ungar will respond to questions and concerns. More information on the May 6 forum can be found at hydepark.org.

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From the May 6 2008 HPKCC Follow up Evening with Eli

HPKCC held a follow up with Ungar Ungar May 6 at the Neighborhood Club. After a power point (described in article below9, Ungar answered questions. He said the backlog of work orders was mostly worked down to jobs that are complicated or that involve interpretation and re inspection with the city. The buildings were starting to be refilled. Rehab work has started, priority buildings identified, and tuck pointing work was about to start-- for examples at the Windermere and the structural problems requiring scaffolding in the 1600 block of E. 55th St. He said he would start a pilot to see it basements of a certain type in the smaller buildings could be converted from storage/mechanical space to basement apartments as good as those above and allowing an affordable unit in the building. (This could result in a total of 29 additional affordable units; city parking requirements would have to be worked out.) He said it is unlikely there would be much more purchase, although he would like to acquire some run-down, rat-infested buildings by his Village Center Pancake House, hurting his values. He virtually committed to making the Del Prado a building that would be at least highly desirable to seniors.

He certainly acknowledged that rents rose and affordability is hurt when the housing stock is renewed or upgraded, but has been making agreements and arrangements to set aside sets of units as affordable in perpetuity. He wished L3 developers well in building a new rental high rise but indicated he would not seek to go that route-- or the turn around or convert route either. Ungar was told of instances where his staff is still unknowledgeable or unhelpful and was severely criticized for his new policy of replacing security deposits with non refundable move in fees, though he gave frank business reasons for doing so. In short, Eli commanded the show and deflected most skepticism, but the students, many of whom were notified, were not there.

On Solstice, he revealed that some units have been sold but construction cannot start until 50% are sold.

Gary Ossewaarde

MAC Attack. Chicago Weekly, May 15 2008. Robin Peterson. [Peter Cassel's name has been changed to correct spelling.]

Students were almost entirely absent from the mostly gray-haired crowd that came out to spend an "Evening with Eli" on Tuesday, May 6. Sponsored by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, the event was a follow -up to an October conversation between local residents and Eli Ungar, founder and president of Antheus capital and associated MAC Properties, Hyde Park's second-largest landholder. About seventy people showed up at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club to take part in this conversation, which began with a brief Power Point by MAC Director of Community Development Peter Cassel. In it, he outlined the company's recent success in revamping "uninhabitable" buildings, told its "exciting economic development story" of hiring 130 full-time Chicago employees, and explained recent rent hikes by linking them to the broader picture of condo conversions and the mortgage crisis. Cassel also described Solstice on the Park, a soon-to-be-built condo at 56th and cornell with modern architecture and a number of "environmentally progressive" features. With MAC's positive contributions fresh in audience members' minds, Ungar took the stage, opening the field to their questions.

Many people asked about the aesthetics, logistics, or economics of specific developments. There was some skepticism about the Solstice's design and some anxiety about ongoing renovations and rent increases at the Windermere, the Del Prado, and East Park Tower. Ungar's answers appeared candid and to the point: he described the difficulties of inheriting buildings in an advanced state of disrepair, where, he said, an "unwritten social contract" had governed the relations between tenants and previous landlords, with one demanding few services and the other charging low rents. Ungar openly admitted, "We blew it," in regards to maintenance issues last year, explaining that the company had "grossly underestimated how much there was to do" following its rapid acquisition of properties. One could hardly help but empathize with the owner of this company--who hails from New Jersey--as he told of his trials and errors in the "interesting, diverse, confusing, exciting community" of Hyde Park.

Articulate and charismatic, Ungar had little trouble in pacifying what could have been a justifiably disgruntled audience. But underneath the polite questions and answers lay the uncomfortable fact of MAC's vast presence in the neighborhood's rental market, which is only going to more costly as apartments are upgraded or converted to condos. Ungar acknowledged, "Gentrification is a double-edged sword. Some people can only afford to live in substandard apartments, and our activity is making apartments more expensive." Pointing out that the company maintained 129 units of affordable housing in Hyde Park, he also stressed that a system involving "the profit motive "will ultimately be most effective in getting developer "to do something good for others and themselves."

Expect that motive to bring less positive changes to the neighborhood as well. Though Ungar said he doubts that MAC will continue to acquire large properties in Hyde Park, this is unlikely to reassure those who already feel they "don't have options besides MAC," as one woman said to her friend. "Now that you're centralized, people don't know what going on," she asserted. "They're afraid to ask questions --they don't feel like management is sensitive to them." Meetings like this one might help assuage those fears, but for many, they do little to change the realities."


MAC plans affordable units in Hyde Park. Herald, May 14, 2008. By Sam Cholke. Ungar's name is corrected.

At a meeting with the community Tuesday night at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave., MAC president Eli Ungar hinted at plans to add up to 29 additional affordable rental units and senior housing in some of his about 2,800 rental units in Hyde Park.

Ungar said the company is looking at senior housing very closely. The location should be close to transportation, retail and a par. "If I haven't described the Del Prado, I don't know what I did," Ungar said.

Wednesday, Peter Cassel, director of community development for MAC, clarified that no final decision had been made about senior housing, but the Del Prado at the corner of South Hyde Park Boulevard and South Hyde Park Boulevard and 53rd Street was one of several properties that has desirable features.

Ungar said he is exploring ways to increase the number of affordable units in the New Jersey-based company's holdings. One option is to create additional units in the basement of some buildings as large boilers were replaced with in-unit heating. The new basement units would allow an equal number of units in the building to be set as "affordable in perpetuity," Ungar said. Cassel said Wednesday they were still looking for a pilot building among the 43 eligible. Ungar said if the conversion were done in all 43 buildings, it would generate an additional 29 affordable units in Hyde Park.

Ungar also said MAC was catching up on a huge backlog of work orders inherited when they purchased properties last year. The company asked residents to submit requests for repairs when it took over, he said. The company "grossly underestimated" the amount of maintenance work the buildings needed, Ungar said. Ungar said they expected about 2,000 work orders from the 826 apartments-- but got 6,000. "It wasn't a bump--we blew it, "Ungar said.

The orders have been whittled down to 500, and 40 to 50 are processed a day, Cassel said.

Ungar took heat from the audience over the decision to shift from security deposits to nonrefundable move-in fees. Hallie Trauger, one of the few University of Chicago students in attendance, said the shift did not represent a small fee to often cash-straped and transient student renters.

Ungar said he made the decision because the paperwork associated with paying residents the small amount of interest made on their security deposits was too expensive and bureaucratic. the move to fees is a trend in the rental market, he said. "At the end of the day, rent will not be set by us, they will be set by the market," Ungar said. Rising utility costs and taxes are partly determining the rise in rent, he said. More importantly, previous owners of the buildings ignoring expenses and ignoring collecting rents were keeping rents artificially low, Ungar said The dramatic shift in the housing market since 2001 has made it far more difficult to make money on rental properties, he said.

Ungar said, except for an undisclosed property in negotiation, he was not planning any additional major property acquisitions in Hyde Par. Several small properties affecting the value of his holdings may be acquired -- notably, three greystone buildings next to the Antheus-owned Village Shopping Center, on the south west corner of Hyde Park Boulevard and Lake Park Avenue.

Work will begin in earnest on several building facades in the coming weeks, Ungar said. Aa matching brick has been found for repairs on the Windermere facade... and work will be completed by next year, Ungar said.

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Tenants criticize MAC at U of C forum June 4 2008. Company says it is making major improvements

[Ed. note: the MAC rep argued on the one hand that rents were artificially low and simultaneously that alternative choices to MAC are ample... Neither the rep nor anyone else we have heard from so far has given us even a close estimate as to the number of rental units 47th to 59th, Cottage to the Lake.]

Herald, June 11, 2008. By Kate Hawley

Representatives from MAC Property Management took the brunt of some angry criticism from tenants at a public forum held at the University of Chicago. David Gefsky, who is in management a the company, fielded questions from students and renters, saying he hoped to conduct "an open exchange with our customers."

MAC, he management arm of Antheus Capital, handles about 3,000 apartments in more than 70 Hyde Park buildings - most of which Antheus bought in the last few years. During that time, representatives of both Antheus and MAC have met with the community on several occasions. Roughly 50 people, including about a dozen MAC employees, attended the forum last Wednesday. It was held at 5706 S. University Ave. and organized by the Southside Solidarity Network, a student group.

Tenants angry about poor maintenance dominated the early part of the meeting. Anjanete Chan Tack, a university student who rents an apartment from MAC near 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue, detailed a story about a roof leak that took eight months to fix. Even after water poured through the light fixture in their kitchen ceiling, MAC took months to solve the problem, she said.

Hannah Birnbaum, another university student who rents from MAC, said the company has a dismal record of passing the buck to outside contractors when repairs aren't done. she said she had so much trouble getting MAC to respond to her complaints that she decided to exercise her right under the city's Residential Tenants Ordinance, and wrote letters demanding MAC fix the problem in 14 days or she would deduct the cost of repairs from her rent. "You know what? I works," she said to applause.

Others said MC employees had been rude or unresponsive to their requests. Gefsky offered apologies and made the argument, as Eli Ungar, head of Antheus, has in recent forums, that buying so many building sat once posed major management challenges. He said that in the last year the company has overhauled its organization, hired new property managers and is beginning to see results. For example, last year the company received 500 work orders a day, and just 75 are pending now, he said.

Some tenants said they'd seen no improvements, but Matt Kennedy, student body president at the university, said his interactions with MAC over the last couple of months have gotten better. He suggested that MAC could improve even more by streamlining its online communications, which Gefsky pledge to consider.

Other tenants were upset that MAC plans to raise rents -- Chan Tack was especially angry about her 15 percent increase, since she said the company has done nothing to improve her rundown apartment.

Rents are going up in part because the market will bear the increases, Gefsky said, adding, "The market was artificially low." Also, MAC is planning "extensive capital improvements" that require rent increases, Gefsky said. Costs have gone up, too, he said: oil, gas, insurance and property taxes. He also suggested that rent increases help pay his employees a "living wage" and noted that students have protested on behalf of living wages for teaching assistants.

The bottom line, he said, is t hat anyone unsatisfied with MAC Properties should feel free to rent from another landlord. "You have the greatest power in the world - to go live somewhere else,"he said. Choices are ample, he argued: MAC Properties manages 3,000 apartments, and Hyde Park has 14,500 units to chose from. Gefsky later explained in a phone interview with the Herald that this 14,500 figure is an estimate culled from a city Web site, and refers to the total number of homes in Hyde Park, including owner-occupied properties.

He said the tenants' complaints were good to hears straight form the source and would help MAC improve in coming months. He told the tenant, as the meeting wore on, "It does us no good to screw this thing up."

 

Jamie Nesbitt tells Herald [he/she] will take up MAC's offer to go elsewhere.

Unfortunately, I missed the meeting with MAC Apartments' David Gefsky last week. But as I'm tired of empty apologies and broken promises, I suppose that was a good thing.

On Thursday, June 5, MAC Apartments sent a notice to Algonquin Apartment tenants currently leasing units in the unrenovated buildings, informing them of the new evacuation date (after months of giving us the wrong information) and offering us the option to prelease one of the newer units. After discussing it with my fiance, we decided to set an appointment right away, as we didn't feel like going through the time-consuming of finding another place to live while planning and paying for our September wedding.

But, try as we might, we could never seem to get in contact with the "transfer agent" who was supposed to help us with the process. My fiance even stopped by the office in hopes of running into the transfer agent. No luck. He was told she would be in touch. He was also told that the two-bedroom apartment we were looking for was $1,250. This was, again, on Thursday. So, you can imagine our surprise when, upon finally getting a human being on the phone the following Tuesday afternoon, we were told that as of Monday the apartment we had hoped to ease was now $1,350. And that the new number would apply, regardless of our current status as Algonquin residents. So much for us being "valued tenants." And the student discount is no more. Ah, yes. Another slap in the face. still, we were told by one of the other leasing agents at the main office that we could appeal to the community Manager to allow us to move into the apartment at the price we were told.

Of course, when I contacted the manager, [____], she told me her hands were tied, and attempted to steer me to their other, more inconveniently located properties. I also appealed to Regional Manager [_____] and received no response. Of course, I've come to expect this type of customer service from MAC. That said, I will gladly take Mr. Gefsy's advice and "live somewhere else" when my lease ends their summer (though, as the company owns nearly 1/3 of Hyde Park, this may be a problem). Clearly, MAC's greed takes precedence over community relations, and after being shadily price out of our apartment only a week after receiving a notice, I'm pretty much done. But I will add my voice to the growing chorus of former (shafted) Mac tenants and discourage anyone I know from doing business with them.

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Reports on the October 16 2007 HPKCC forum with Eli Ungar

Mr. Ungar agreed to repeat the forum in about six months after that of October 16, 2007, and did.

Ossewaarde, Withrow, Maroon, Herald

Eli Ungar Discusses Future Plans, Impact of MAC Purchases
As in the December 2007 Conference Reporter

The Conference in Action:


By Gary Ossewaarde

On October 16 Eli Ungar, founder and owner of Antheus Capital and MAC Apartments/Property Management, met over 100 residents and tenants at the Neighborhood Club. The open discussion was part of a continuing series of forums held and planned by HPKCC and its committees on matters of public concern and the future of the neighborhood.

Arranged at the suggestion of Conference member Mary Rose Shaughnessy and Mr. Ungar, the meeting was called because of widespread letters and expressions of concern about Ungar’s acquisition of a large percentage of rental properties in Hyde Park since 2002, with intent to “improve“ and hold them long term as rental, and also about Antheus’ planned or envisioned new developments at 56th/Cornell and 51st/Lake Park.

Catching public attention particularly was Ungar’s purchase of 43 properties from K&G Management this year (and later reports of missteps in absorbing and managing these properties) and resulting concern that rents would go up, threatening affordability and economic diversity in Hyde Park. Both MAC renters and other residents attended and spoke up on both specific and general issues.

Mary Rose Shaughnessy warned that because the company owns so much locally, expanded so rapidly and is beholden to nonresident investors it has little incentive to listen to tenants and, should economic troubles come, many residents could be priced out and many buildings become troubled.

Mr. Ungar replied that his success is tied to the neighborhood’s, that he is here for the long run (later citing their gifts to Kenwood Academy and Bret Harte), has a wide range and size of structures, and his strategy caters to serving a strong demand no one else is filling—rental demand, for many income levels. Jack Spicer added that it may be advantageous to be able bring problems and demands to a few large property holders, using tenant councils to deal with the owners.

Mr. Ungar readily apologized for managerial, scale, service, and construction mistakes. He promised his companies will do better, has been hiring, and results will show within weeks. Backlogged orders are mostly done; the Windermere and Algonquin work is getting on track and will be far from minimal. Ungar said he intends to adhere to high standards all renters have a right to expect in their homes and from their manager:

· units clean, well-lit, with heating and conditioning working,
· requests get response within a day,
· work done courteously and thoroughly,
· tenants get what is promised.

Ungar said the newly acquired buildings range from those that turned out to be uninhabitable and had to be emptied and put on a schedule for rehab, those that allow a choice between substantial upgrading with higher rents or repair for more affordable rents, and buildings that need minimum fixing up. A large set represented a deteriorating set of housing stock—here was an opportunity help a neighborhood already characterized by stability, even though any improvement posed risks to affordability and diversity. He noted that condo conversion would undermine stability and affordability faster. The rental units in Hyde Park-Kenwood went down from 22,000 in 2002 to 17,000 in 2007. No one has tried or been able to put up a new rental building in the area since 1989.

He said that to address these concerns in some buildings he is building out new basement apartments and substituting individual heating units in each apartment for central. This spreads general costs so the units can be kept more affordable or enables keeping a unit or so at a lower rent/ (Tenants in these buildings would pay utilities according to usage.) The overall result is more affordable units per building than the city’s 10 percent standard. He also said he will consider being more conservative, at least with some buildings, in introducing the kind of “improvements” that only cater to and can be paid for with considerably higher rents. He (and others) cautioned against simply not charging market rents, suggesting seeking subsidy programs or a community fund. He also criticized a burdensome and “capriciously” applied property tax assessment that also penalizes multi-units, assessed at 22% vs. homes at 16%. He agreed with an upset neighbor to better communication with neighbors when renovating buildings.

While rents in most MAC buildings have not been significantly increased, he agreed that the Algonquin buildings in the northeast Hyde Park triangle are an exception. (One renter said she now spends 50% of her income on rent there). The buildings had been neglected, he alleged, and were bought after a failed condo conversion attempt. These high rents—and people are renting there—is the only way to afford the difficult and costly building-by-building renovation needed. 93% of the small units will meet the HUD standard for affordability, but few of the larger units will, his breakdown showed.

Mr. Ungar suggested the neighborhood work together to find solutions to the strongly expressed concern that the middle class, professional, and retired backbone of Hyde Park may be forced out. Mr. Rumsey announced that a new coalition dedicated to solutions to these and other affordability concerns would hold its inaugural open meeting December 5, 7 pm at the Neighborhood Club.

There was only brief discussion of Mr. Ungar’s new projects, such as possible increase in density or poorly directed traffic and drives at Windermere West (56th/Cornell). Building for rental would require sky-high rents and either wouldn’t lease or push all rents up. Retail would be inappropriate at that location, he said. Parking at 1.7 spaces per unit is higher than for most developments and may allow spaces for neighbors. The city approves the roadway and entry configurations. The proposal goes before the planning department in November. A public meeting will be held.
Phase I of Village Center (Lake Park and East Hyde Park), at the present main building and lot, is in planning and will be brought to the community “soon.”

Asked how the neighborhood and its resources could be helped to thrive and hence make his holdings successful, he suggested improved retail offerings.

In closing remarks, Shaughnessy said she is still concerned about consequences if market experience doesn’t bear our Ungar’s hopes. Ungar insisted he is conservatively financed and has paid and will be able to pay the bills and is committed to communication and dialogue with the community and tenants. His goal is be here in 20 years with the same buildings attracting full leasing and growing in value.

HPKCC seeks to continue dialogue on MAC progress and on strategies for economic diversity, possibly through a reconvening of the forum in a few months.


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Report on the October 16 2007 forum, by James Withrow

This report is in Mr. Withrow's blog, Hyde Park Urbanist. Here is the url: http://alwaysintransit.typepad.com/hyde_park_urbanist/2007/10/both-a-
develope.html
. (To go just to the blogspot, halt at urbanist/.) And there are a few more photos here: http://alwaysintransit.typepad.com/photos/ungar/

He's Both Developer & "Charming Young Man"

Eli Ungar, spokesman for the sibling companies Antheus Capital & Mac Properties, answered questions at the Neighborhood Club tonight. The forum was presented by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and moderated by its president George Rumsey. About 75 folks showed up. (That's Eli on the left and George on the right. The pics are from a little before the event started.)

Eli's companies have purchased a huge number of apartments in Hyde Park and Kenwood, but, unlike others developers, Mac doesn't do condo conversions. They do plan to construct condos next to Bret Harte School on the Windermere parking lot, a project Eli said just couldn't be financed as apartments. The rapid growth of the Mac portfolio has the potential for problems, but only the crankiest Hyde Parkers accuse him of anything worse than biting off more than he can chew.

The acquisition by Mac of 48 K&G properties this summer was indeed too much to handle (Eli admitted they made plenty of mistakes) and several residents from Mac units complained about poor communication, slowness in handling work orders and administrative problems. I'm guessing it's telling that the complaints were typically Mac tenants who once were happy with their service but have felt let down lately. No one identified themselves as former K&G tenants who were unhappy with their new landlord Mac. Eli's explanation that the problems were mostly growing pains seemed believable to me.

Only a couple questions involved the soon to be constructed condo building. One woman complained that the new alley would be right across from her house and we heard the usual gripe about parking from a woman who I assume was concerned about the future availability of her city-subsidized street parking.

Some interesting facts came out. Eli said there were about 22,000 apartment units in HP-K in 2002 and now there are about 17,000 (although he maintained that it was hard for him to find accurate numbers on this and depends on how you define the area.) He blamed the loss of units on condo conversions by other developers and registered his concern that this will continue to have a negative impact on affordability. He also complained that Cook County still assesses apartments at about a 30% higher rate than owner-occupied units-- although some progress has been made. He reiterated how unfair this is to lower income people. And higher assessments from converted condos are therefore somewhat mitigated by that higher tax assessment rate for apartments.

A woman asked what charitable contributions Mac has made to the community and Eli answered that they wrote a check to Kenwood Academy for $80K for replacement of seating in the gym (IIRC). No one asked if he would be asking to use Kenwood's parking lot for his Windermere tenants during the upcoming construction and Eli did not volunteer that information.

He said that several of the recently acquired buildings had basement boilers that could be replaced by single unit heating systems and, if Mac did that, then he thinks some of those basements could be divided and rented out as apartments. I'm very much in favor of that because that would eke out a little more density and probably means a few more affordable units (for when people like me are old & gray but still ambulatory). His biggest worry about the new units would be-- guess what!-- the city's parking regulations for new abodes. One rather nasty fellow then related a story from probably 30 years ago where a single unit heater blew up and killed a coworker of his (admittedly a tragic story) whereas the old boilers were usually surrounded by 2-foot thick walls and therefore much safer. This isn't an area I have any expertise in, but I'd be willing to take my chances in a basement apartment with the new heaters if it means I can stay in HP.

Since construction costs are related to affordable housing, I've twice asked Eli questions designed to let him complain about unusual costs in Chicago, things like permits or regulations (thinking mostly of required parking), but neither time has he taken the bait. Tonight, he replied that we could lower the cost of construction if we could get China to stop using so much steel.

K&G's motivation for selling has been irresponsibly asserted elsewhere, but Eli implied that it was mostly a matter of an older man wanting to simplify his estate. And probably the oddest thing Eli stated was that many of his early Hyde Park building purchases were from Croatians who had decided they could make more by selling here and investing in booming Croatia.

Folks pretty much behaved themselves, so George's duties as moderator mostly consisted of making sure everyone got to ask one question before anyone asked a second question, which he did a fine job on. Of course, Eli's charm tends to soothe all but the crankiest Hyde Parkers. One woman said he was a "charming young man" and his mother could be proud of his manners.

Eli continues to be the perfect model for developers wanting to make money in Hyde Park. He admits mistakes (although he will get testy about untrue allegations). He assertively responds to neighborhood requests, even promising tonight to stay as long as people had questions. And Eli exudes sincerity and concern. What more can you ask for?

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MAC owner defends management. Chicago Maroon, October 19, 2007. By Sarah Hetherington

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference held an open forum at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club Tuesday to allow local residents to converse with Eli Ungar, founder and president of Antheus Capital and its affiliate MAC Property Management, one of the principal real estate management companies in Hyde Park.

George Rumsey, president of the conference, introduced Ungar to an audience of mostly non-student community members and asked that individuals refrain from posing questions or complaints about individual issues in lieu of asking broader questions. Ungar, however, welcomed any and all nitty-gritty concerns, offering to stay for as many hours into the night as necessary and vowing to answer all questions in precise detail.

"If there are things wrong, we need to know about them, and they need to be fixed," he said. "Our investments are only going to make sense if Hyde Park thrives... We learned a lot from buying 43 buildings in one day," he said, referring to MAC's purchase of Hyde Park properties from K& G Management last spring. "We need to do it better."

Mary Rose Shaughnessy, who wrote a letter to the Hyde Park Herald in July posing the question of whether Ungar's purchase of the 43 apartment buildings constituted a monopoly on Hyde Park real estate, began the forum with a comment. "They own so much of Hyde Park. [Ungar] has a huge stake in our community, but he doesn't work for us," she said. "what if [MAC] raises rents? They could drive out old-time residents."

In response, one man said, "Remember, [Ungar] is stuck here as much as we are stuck with him. We have an advantage in that he has a profit-based interest in our community." Nonetheless, Shaughnessy's comment reflected two of the major concerns voiced during the forum: first, whether MAC's renovation and refurbishment of Hyde Park real estate would actually improve existing properties' and secondly, how MAC's renovation would impact rent increases and the ability of long-time residents to afford living in the neighborhood.

One woman spoke about rumored mismanagement of asbestos abatement to the Algonquin Apartments. Ungar responded that MAC had purchased the Algonquin from a building owner who had failed in trying to convert the building into a condo. Mac was left with a property in very poor condition with renovation constrained by inherited and highly restrictive electricity and plumbing permits, he said. Ungar openly admitted that certain contractors began renovation without regard to asbestos midway through construction. "I take full responsibility for the mistakes," he said. "It was expensive, embarrassing, and it was my fault." Ungar hired a contractor that specialized in asbestos abatement to fix the mistakes and subsequently allowed the city to run tests on the building to make sure it was up to code.

Another woman also said that the rent increase due to the Algonquin's renovation threatened her ability to remain there as a senior citizen. She now has to spend half her income on rent, she said.

It was a concern Ungar responded to repeatedly through the evening. "I don't want to pretend higher rents are not an issue," he said. Ungar said he was interested in preserving Hyde Park real estate, emphasizing that condominium conversion has drastically depleted rental stock. Ungar claimed that no new apartment construction has taken place in the neighborhood in almost 20 years, citing one statistic stating that 22,000 rental units available in the neighborhood in 2002 had decreased to 27,000 due to condo conversion.

In addition to discussing MAC Property's resistance to condo conversion as a future prospect in Hyde Park, Ungar said that "just not raising rents is not ultimately going to succeed," but suggested that discussion and cooperation between "an admittedly for-profit organization such as MAC and the community allows for the potential for a productive collaboration for both parties."

Ungar contrasted the pragmatic view of MAC Property's real estate investment with a more altruistic explanation of how his company has attempted to invest in the community's future. Ungar spoke of sponsoring scholarships at Kenwood Academy named after teachers at the school and described how he was motivated by a conversation with the Academy's principal about fundraising setbacks to donate $80,000 in order to replace seats in the school's auditorium.

"So far, we have been biased towards giving to education," Ungar said. "In order for a neighborhood to be great, its schools have to be great." Ungar concluded by stressing that MAC Property was interested in staying in Hyde Park for the long haul. "My goal is to be here 20 years from now, slightly thinner," he grinned.

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Two Herald takes. October 31 2007. (Note: there is also a letter from Mary Rose Shaughnessy similar to that published above.)

Antheus holds forum to address questions. By Yvette Presberry

Following a rush of land acquisitions that made it the second-largest property owner in Hyde Park, Antheus Capital has sparked many question[s] about how Hyde Park will be affected by their presence in the neighborhood.

In an effort to address those questions, Antheus head Eli Ungar [corrected in this printing] , in cooperation with the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HP-KCC), held an Oct. 16 forum at which residents peppered Ungar with concerns ranging from details about the everyday business of property management to the growing expense of renting in Hyde Park.

Late into the night, Ungar answered question after question during the uncharacteristically subdued event. In between frequent apologies, Ungar told the nearly 100-member audience his investment in the neighborhood is for the long haul. "We have no intention of selling," Ungar said.

Among the properties the company owns are Village Center, 1525 E. Hyde Park Blvd., a mixed-use center with a grocery store, restaurant, office space, and apartments; the Algonquin, 1606 E. Hyde Park Blvd.; Maple House, 1120-26 E. 47th St., an apartment building that also includes a Washington Mutual branch and several shops on the 53rd street site of the property. The company also plans to erect a high-rise designed by award-winning architect Jeanne Gang at 56th Street and cornel avenue. At a second recent community meeting Ungar also met with parents and representatives of Bret Harte Elementary School , 1556 E. 56th St., about construction of the high-rise, which will affect [sic] the school.

Several people at the HP-KCC forum discussed concerns of condominium conversions and rising rent rates in Hyde Park. "We will move out if we can't afford to live here," said Hyde Park resident Allison Hubbard.

Ungar repeatedly apologized for inconveniences tenants mentioned they had encountered when trying to reach MAC Properties, Antheus' management arm in Hyde Park, and said that buying so much property in Hyde Park at once was a learning experience. "We've learned a lot from it," he said.

Antheus updates Bret Harte officials about high-rise plans. Nykeya Woods

An Antheus Capital representative updated Bret Harte Elementary officials in early October about its plan to build a 26-story high-rise adjacent to the school. Construction on Windermere West near 56th Street and Cornell Avenue could begin next summer and officials at the school at 1556 E. 56th St. fear they may encounter snarls.

Updated plans show that the New Jersey-based company is creating a larger wrap-around playground and a one-way private driveway, which can be used as a drop-off and pick -up lane for the school. an alley, which juts behind the property and is located east of Bret Harte, is expected to move north. the parking lot will increase in size and is set to move to a grassy area next st the school. Before Antheus could pursue creating a 26-story building, the company had to acquire a small strip of land from the Board of Education.

Antheus head Eli Ungar said that he understood that the construction of the 142-unit condominium building would create some problems for Bret Harte. But he said that he specifically searched for a construction firm that has built next to schools. "Whenever you build things in an urban area, its' complicated," Ungar said. "Whenever you build near a school, it's 10 times as complicated."

Possible problems included traffic flow and congestion along 56th street, which is a concern the school's principal Shenethe Parks has raised.

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Eli Ungar wins Rabbi Robert J. Marx Social Justice Award from the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs.

Mr. Ungar won the award for support of JCUA's Community Ventures Program, to give seed funding to non-profit groups to develop affordable housing or low-income families. Ungar was noted for offering resources and serving as a partner. Developer Michael Alter also won the award.

Antheus acquires Del Prado, East Lake Towers

Antheus' latest thinking on the Del Prado (December 2008) is that the building, to be remodeled in 2009, will be all market rate rental without set aside affordable units but with a tier of fully accessible units, which includes a new ground-level elevator. It will also be built as suitable for seniors to "age in place." For East Lake Towers, remodeling will proceed floor (or tier) by floor.

 

Hyde Park Herald, December 19, 2007. By Sam Cholke

Eli Ungar of Antheus Capital and MAC Apartments, confirmed Dec. 3 that they are under contact to purchase Del Prado Apartments, 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd., and East Park Towers Apartments, 5242 S. Hyde Park Blvd.

"We are scheduled to acquire them at the end of January, and we are in the process of studying them to try to fully understand their current condition," Ungar said. Ungar said that from initial inspections it was likely that Del Prado would need to be emptied of occupants to perform repairs on the building.

"The Del Prado, I think, has some physical conditions that are very difficult if not impossible to address while the building remains fully occupied," Ungar said. From initial inspections of East Park Tower, much of the work - modernizing elevators and heating systems and renovating hallways and lobbies - could be done while residents continued to live in the building, Ungar said.

"The preliminary news is that the East Park Towers appears to be in significantly better shape than the Del Prado, and I think it is not certain, but highly likely, that the work we would want to do in East Park Tower could be done without interrupting occupancy of the building,"

Ungar said they are trying to keep renovation costs low so apartments can remain affordable once repairs are finished. "What we're trying to do is see what we can do at East Park Towers just short of a full renovation so that we wouldn't have to end up with rents that are significantly higher", Ungar said.

Both buildings are at about 70 percent of full occupancy currently , Ungar said. The hope is that some residents could be relocated to East Park Tower while renovations are completed on the Del Prado, he said. Ungar said one of the things they are trying to facilitate in the renovations is providing residents currently in the apartment towers the chance to stay in the community.

"We've been active in Hyde Park for a number of years now and things that were not on our mind when we first got started we've learned by being a part of the community," Ungar said. "Affordability is really first and foremost. There is a significant part of the community that has lived here for a long time, is on a fixed income, and would love to remain in the community and is growing ever more concerned about their ability to afford the community as it gets more expensive."

Antheus capital is mindful of the fact that one of the results of renovating buildings is that they become nicer and more expensive, Ungar said. "Financially, it would probably be better for us to empty both buildings and do a complete renovation. I think there is a market that would readily rent those apartments as soon as they're done," Ungar said. "Having said that, I don't think that's the best overall outcome for the community, and we're trying to be attentive to that and try to find a middle course that allows us to receive a fair return on our investment and also takes into serious consideration the impact it has on the community."

December 26 Herald: Antheus bought 1440 E. 52nd. By Yvette Presberry

On the heals of announcing the construction of a new high-rise in Hyde Park, New Jersey-based developer Antheus Capital purchased a mixed-use apartment building at 1440 E. 52nd st. The 53-8nit building has 48 apartments and five retail spaces, including a snack store and a lingerie store. Its location is also diagonal from businesses in Harper Court and one block from merchants on 53rd Street.

Antheus principal Eli Ungar said his company bought the building in October because it is in a key area of Hyde Park and is across the street from another antheus-owed building, The Blackwood, 5200 S. Blackstone ave., a rehabbed high-rise building that once served as a hotel in the 1930s to '50s. "It's an area we know well and certainly have a presence in," Ungar said, describing the block on which the Blackwood and his company's most recent acquisition sit.

Ungar said the previous owner, JMJ Enterprises LLC., renovated the building prior to Antheus' purchase of it, so his company does not plant make any changes to the site.

Antheus owns more than 85 properties in Hyde Park and is currently developing a 26-floor high-rise called Solstice in the Park on the corner of 56th Street and Cornell Avenue. Ungar said Antheus may purchase more property in Hyde Park at some point. "We continue to be very optimistic [about] the future," Ungar said.

Del Prado's residents' move nears

Hyde Park Herald, March 12, 2008. By Kate Hawley

Tenants at the Del Prado Apartments, 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd., had mixed reactions to a briefing last week about when they will have to move out to make way for a gut renovation of the building. Tenants will be able to stay until their leases expire, representatives rom MAC Property Management explained at the meeting, held on Tuesday, March 4 at the building.

MAC is the management arm of Antheus Capital, the New Jersey-based company that bought the building in late January. The Del Prado is in need of major repairs that can't be accomplished if the building is occupied, MAC staff explained.

Tenants will have to find and apply for new apartments, but if they move into other buildings managed by MAC, they'll be able to waive the application and move-in fees, according to Wendy Neitzel, MAC's director of property management. Those fees will also be waived if the tenants want to come back to the Del Prado, she said. And tenants can end their leases early without penalty. MAC also plans to invite tenants and local building managers to a housing fair on Thursday, April 3.

Muel Benforde, a building resident, said he found the meeting helpful. "I was pretty much comfortable with what they talked about," he said. "They were very professional about it." He would be interested in moving to another building managed by MAC, he added.

Maribeth Quinn, who has lived in the Del Prado for 23 years, is among the tenants who receive subsidized rent through the Section 8 voucher program. Although she agreed that the building is in disrepair, she was upset about moving. "At first, I cried," she said. "This was my home."She hoped not to have to leave the neighborhood. "I want to stay here in Hyde Park," she said. Section 8 tenants must apply for new apartments that accept vouchers through the Chicago Housing Authority. Whether or not Section 8 tenants can return to the rehabbed Del Prado depends on what the rents will be, which hasn't yet been established, according to Eli Ungar, head of Antheus Capital.

Karen Bevil, a 19-year resident, lives in a market-0rate studio with a view of the lake. She was irked that she'll have to re-apply for anther apartment. "I'm already a tenant, and I'm a tenant of yours by default," she said. "Why should I go through anything but just transfer to another apartment?" Ungar said that since his company inherited these tenants, it has the right to ask them to apply for space in one of its other properties. Bevil also expressed doubt that the building was in need of repair. Ungar said it needs serious attention: the elevators, windows, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems need to be replaced.

Major demolition and rehab won't begin until the last residential lease ends in late fall. The rehab of the building will likely take a year, with the units ready to be leased in the spring of 2010. Ungar said it's too early to tell whether rents in the rehabbed building will be comparable to what they are now, especially since some reconfiguration of the units is likely. The building has a number of 250-square-fot studios that will likely be made into larger, more livable units, he said. "The building will be beautiful and rents will reflect that," Ungar said.

Currently, the Del Prado's roughly 200 apartments are about 65 percent occupied, according to Ungar. The building also has a handful of retail tenants, including a dentist's office and a dry cleaner. Those leases will be honored if the tenants so choose, he said.

 

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56th Cornell high rise development proposal and discussion. (Was called Windermere West, now Solstice on the Park.)

 

The latest iteration of Solstice on the Park, 1634 E. 56th St, 56th and Cornell ne corner, Planned Dev. 282, was approved by the Chicago Plan Commission February 18 and goes to the Zoning Commission in future weeks. Changes are

Windermere House – no changes

5528-32 S Cornell – reserve the 53 dwelling units for affordable housing

Solstice Building - 33 feet closer to 56th street and right up to Cornell; no hotel

Construct no fewer than 316 parking spaces (in a larger parking building including underground so 15 feet shorter; a fitness room and two possible retail shops, along with a private drive along the front south face of the building that provides the entrance and exit to the parking garage. )

Construct no more than 250 dwelling units (original condo plan had 153 larger-sized units)

The plan will have a full complement of trees along 56th (excepting at the Com Ed vault an entrance.

The maximum height will remain at 299 feet

Over 1 M was invested in Bret Harte School's new drives and parking, playground and other improvements.

November 5, 2015, Peter Cassel of MAC gives latest plan, says project going forward. Report to HPKCC board:

Peter Cassel of MAC Properties et al, adt teh November 5 HPKCC board meeting, discussed and answered questions on the proposed Solstice on the Park development on the northwest corner of 56th and Cornell Ave. Basics: The project is in request for amendment to planned development and will be a slightly smaller and shorter (25 stories) version of the original design. It will be a rental building without a hotel and with the parking partly underground so that the parking structure (now detached) will be only 3 stories above ground with 216 parking spaces including for the building north of Solstice, and the Windermere. There will be 250 apartments with rents starting about $1,800 for a one-bedroom and topping at $4,500 for some 4-bedrooms. The building to the north (52 units) will be affordable and rent-frozen in perpetuity. Hope is for construction to start in 3rd quarter 2016 and to take two years, except the parking garage, which will be built first. Accommodations for Bret Harte school are complete. Concern was expressed about renters in the affordable building, citing past experience—Cassel cited experience with current affordable properties and use of proper screening and management to expectations.
He said City Hyde Park is renting well; three large retail spaces are leased plus Regis office rentals and there will be small retail on the Harper side.

February 2015 (ahead of Feb. 10 public meeting). Peter Cassel presented the rebirth of the project and answered questions at the February 5 2015 Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference board meeting, one of several to be held including a full open meeting February 10 at Piccolo Mondo.

Solstice development at 56th and Cornell- Peter Cassel for Antheus/Silliman Group/MAC. Properties.
Background: Antheus has about 100 buildings and 4,500 apartments in Hyde Park-Kenwood, all rental, and with a high occupancy rate. Its larger new or renovated developments include Del Prado, Shoreland, and City Hyde Park (which will have a Whole Foods and. he announced, a Marshall's).

Antheus intends to move ahead on the project, using essentially the LEED design of Studio Gang (CEO Jeannie Gang) and height (24 stories), although the change to rental configuration and numbers of units may cause it to be narrowed and the parking addition larger and with a conference center/ballroom deck. Market demand analysis prompted the change from condos to rental. The number of units, if an all-apartment building would go from c150 to as many as 250.

Preferred plan- 2/3 rental with c.200 units, other third a hotel with 130 or so units. Alternate, if the additional approvals for hotel were too costly or lengthy would be a c.250 unit rental building.

After public and stakeholder meetings, they would like to file an amended Planned Development (PUD) document within 4-6 months and start the process for zoning and planning approvals-- amendment and zoning are necessary anyway and the building size and height are beyond what current zoning allows. A hotel would need a liquor license.

They have an affordable component agreement with Coalition for Equitable Community Development, but that would be revisited because ordinances have been passed-- and a new one is proposed, and the number of units is greater.

Questions and concerns: Need to take care with parking and service entry and esp. egress- cars shoot out, and better lighting is needed. Congestion is already high at times including on Cornell, 56th, 56th-Stony-Lake Park convergence, and there are adjacent playgrounds and school; Bret Harte still closes off 56th St. part of the day. (Cassel said a traffic study is now underway, including understanding how the school drop-off works.)

Can the shadow effect be mitigated. (That varies by time of day and season and moves around).

The unit sizes? Most are one or two bedroom with some studios and three bedrooms. Rents when it opens will be market rate, higher than at the Shoreland and comparable to City Hyde Park.

Hotel ? (MAC would own it, a hotel company would run it- probably a soft brand (i.e. not Marriott) which gives more flexibility.
The hotel is not dependent upon or related to a Presidential Library, which would follow years later.)

All are invited to the public presentation and discussion Tuesday, February 10, 6 pm at Piccolo Mondo, 1642 E. 56th St. Cassel will also present at the February 9 Jackson Park AC 7 pm at 6401 stony Island and hold resident and stakeholder meetings.

February 10 2015 Eli Ungar of Antheus and two specialists on his staff gave an illustrated public presentation on Solstice and answered questions, at Piccolo Mondo, 1642 E. 56th St. The following is what was different or in addition to what's above.

The arrangement with Bret Harte is a formal agreement.
Affordable component- The prefer to keep the arrangement for the north building (5528), which is 53 units, far beyond what even a revised ordinance would require for set aside- it would be contiguous and it would be in perpetuity. They have met (that morning) with CECD Affordable Housing Advocacy.

Building options-- they are going ahead with it as rental (esp. since it will be easier to convince funders for rental), but preference would still be condo. About 9 months from now they will reach a point of no return-- for condos, they would have to start advertising and selling.
The definitely want the hotel option, but that depends on the city letting it happen outside downtown. And for a hotel a liquor license is the deal breaker. What has changed? Buildings actually under way or done-- last previous about 1987, 1979.
Also, they learned the hard way that 145 at c2,000 sf was wrong- could not sell and certainly would not rent. The new sizes and numbers they think will rent fast, and could sell as condos. the floors and rooms are configured so they work either way. And have the amenities (and views!) and a more generous size than most new buildings, so will attract renters or buyers.
250 1,200 sf if rental or if the lower half is a hotel, 180-200 rental units and hotel with 130-160 hotel style rooms. (The specs given to the city have to say the maximum allowed.)
Parking is in excess of what the city asks, especially transit-oriented. They admitted that they are not increasing the parking spaces with the increase in unit numbers, citing their experience with the large remodeled rental buildings they have (also Del Prado and East View did not require any parking spaces). They still intend to serve the various "constituencies" and hope to have some extra parking for the neighborhood. The parking bustle would go higher (ballroom floor, 4 parking levels above ground, the 1st floor restaurant, and a parking floor underground there).
Building parking would enter from 56th next to the school (fenced off) while the hotel and service entry would be from the drive off Cornell. Parking studies are under way. (Two curb cuts would be added on 56th, two on Cornell eliminated.)
There is a zoning issue with having a hotel in a combination building in neighborhoods as well as need for a liquor license to serve in the restaurant, not take out-- experience would be similar to Piccolo Mondo- they would need community support.
Looks will change as the carved out balconies would change to fit the new number of units. It stays LEED certified.
The amenities in the apartments and in the common wil be such as are competitive and would fit with converting to and selling as condos-- more than what's in usual rental buildings. And the views in all directions is the real cachet--including unblockable view to downtown over the railroad.

An amended PUD would be filed, having text document that controls, including the review process, the bulk table, drawings (with which permits must compare). The FAR (floor area ratio) would stay 6.6. Parking 423 spaces. 200 bike spaces (1 for 2) . Maximum flor a floor 5000 sf. Maximum height 299 feet (most the city will allow at this site or equivalent of 24 floors).
One reason that it's hard to put up building here is that land costs about what it does downtown but you cannot sell for or rent for as much as downtown.
Public notice will be sent to residents within a certain distance giving the plan and changes needed in detail and inviting feedback. And they will have to deal with several city departments until all are satisfied with the plan-- at that stage al notices and hearings are under the control of the city.

Answers- c90% will be one or two bedroom, the rest efficiency or 3 bedroom. There would be limited possibility of combining or adjusting units if any, more possible if condo.
A serious question was raised about whether affordable could mean lots of unscreened Section 8 residents -- experience and crime were bad when that was the case in the 1990s. 53 all together is too much affordable? The Alderman suggested a strategy reserving a block for middle class who want to be able to stay in Hyde Park.

________________________________________

At the end of 2008, having won CPS land swap approval that includes improvements for Bret Harte and seeking city full permits. Some reports way Solstice has met its preleasing target (others say not) and is set to break ground, probably in the first half of 2009.

A public meeting was held November 15 2007 at which unanimity in favor of this development was expressed by the approximately 100 attendees. In presentations and answer to well thought out questions, the audience learned of how the award-winning architectural firm of Studio Gang has sculpted the sides of the building to alternatively minimize and maximize sun impact and load, avoid monotony, make a green LEEDS building, and to fit the floor plans that are grouped in three tiers corresponding to sizes and layouts of units. We also learned of accommodation to the needs of Bret Harte School, traffic circulation and parking loads, and other local needs including provision for affordability in the building to the north. The development was praised for filing a niche (new structure for condos) that will bring in new residents to help support retail.

Note that according to communication from Robert Greenspoon (and perused documents) on November 14th Board of Education, pursuant to a complaint filed by Mr. Greenspoon and other neighbors to the north re: procedures in sale of amount of property by Board of Education to a private developer without public hearing and other steps, rescinded its approval of improvements to Bret Harte School in conjunction with the project. Staff will review and recommend at a later Board meeting. Antheus says it does not need the section in dispute, slated for a teachers' parking lot, and is willing to let it go-- thus only the school teachers are hurt unless the Board decides to put parking on this sector.

The project in spring 2008 was showing the on-site model and selling units. About 40% they say, but others say likely more will have to be sold before construction can start, no earlier than 1st half of 2009. Writers continue to point out some perceived maintenance issues and feasibility in light of necessary prices. The arrangement with Coalition for Equitable Community Development to keep (assuming the project goes forward) all of the units in the building to the north affordable in perpetuity is complete.

The sales trailer has windows that can be programmed to show the views from the various suites and floors. Sellers hope the uniqueness of the design and its amenities will be the selling point. There have been sales and they remain hopeful they can break ground by the end of 2008. (Two more years of construction will follow.) Prices start at $480,000 for some 2-bedrooms (to $1.1m) and top out at $2.5 million for one or some 4-bedrooms. Assessments: $300 to $1,200 and include window washing that the sellers say is not a problem. Amenities include 9 foot ceilings, whit-oak hardwood floors, special cabinets and appliances. Common areas include a fitness center an a half-acre green roof with barbecue area and triangular swimming pool.

Site plan of Soltice on the Park (Windermere West). Antheus Capita,,Studio/Gang?Architects. 11/15/07rendering of Solstice on the Padk at 56th an Cornell.. Antheus Capital and Studio/Garg/Architects

 

Note that the plan from lower toward upper shows the drop off like that that of the Windermere (and which will funnel cars from the high rise eastward during school rush hours), the 26 story tower over parking an lobby, health club, offices (bluish), then the c45' high north part of the garage with green garden and pool roof, and to north and west the new alley and school drop off new school parking lot not provided by Antheus due to suit to CPS?, greenspace and playground. Gray structure to the north is 528, which Antheus will make perpetually affordable. THE BUILDING IS SLIGHTLY SHRUNK SINCE THIS DRAWING.

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Hyde Park Herald, November 14, 2007. By Yvette Presberry

Representatives for developer Antheus Capital and law firm Bell, Boyd and Lloyd will discuss plans with the public on the proposed Windermere West at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15 at Bret Harte SChool, 1556 E. 56th St.

Windermere West, also known as Solstice on the Park, is a 26-story, 145-unit condominium west of the historic Windermere House, 1642 E. 56th St. Construction of the high-rise is planned to begin next summer, with an opening scheduled for 2010.

The building, designed by award-winning architect Jeanne Gang of Gang Studios, will include a roof garden, a health club facility on the premises, retail space and parking for all of its residents.

The proposed building requires zoning changes to construct roadways for Bret Harte visitors and faculty, as well as residents living near 56th street and Cornell Avenue. Antheus proposes building a private driveway for the elementary school and an alley next to the school.

Some concerns that have been previously reported are the height of the Solstice high-rise and its proximity to an elementary school. ..

Background: A local group known informally as Back to the Drawing Board conducted much research and has had a full discussion with Alderman Hairston. The alderman, as well as the group, held discussions with Antheus Capital (the developer) about certain changes the group thinks will make the development more an asset and less a problem.

Bret Harte is said to have made an agreement with Antheus, including size etc. of the replacement playground Antheus is paying for, location etc. of the drop off/access drive, traffic for the new building, and amenities for the school including accessible entrance and air conditioning.

Antheus is known to have made agreement with Interfaith Open Communities and the residents of the small rental building to the north to lock in rents in perpetuity and maintain the building as affordable rental.

Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference has not take an official stand, but consents seems to be in favor, as are all the other relevant organizations in the community. HPKCC herd a presentation in favor at its November board meeting.

 

Antheus updates Bret Harte officials about high-rise plans. Nykeya Woods

An Antheus Capital representative updated Bret Harte Elementary officials in early October about its plan to build a 26-story high-rise adjacent to the school. Construction on Windermere West near 56th Street and Cornell Avenue could begin next summer and officials at the school at 1556 E. 56th St. fear they may encounter snarls.

Updated plans show that the New Jersey-based company is creating a larger wrap-around playground and a one-way private driveway, which can be used as a drop-off and pick -up lane for the school. an alley, which juts behind the property and is located east of Bret Harte, is expected to move north. the parking lot will increase in size and is set to move to a grassy area next st the school. Before Antheus could pursue creating a 26-story building, the company had to acquire a small strip of land from the Board of Education.

Antheus head Eli Ungar said that he understood that the construction of the 142-unit condominium building would create some problems for Bret Harte. But he said that he specifically searched for a construction firm that has built next to schools. "Whenever you build things in an urban area, its' complicated," Ungar said. "Whenever you build near a school, it's 10 times as complicated."

Possible problems included traffic flow and congestion along 56th street, which is a concern the school's principal Shenethe Parks has raised.

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See Discussion with HPKCC board. As discussed in April 2007 Conference Reporter.

Antheus Properties will build a condominium building designed by Jeanne Gang and Studio Gang with parking on the surface lot of the Windermere, 1604-24 E. 56th St. There was a neighbors and community stakeholders meeting October 23 2006. The expected-to-have-preceded earlier meeting with the Windermere residents and businesses will be scheduled as soon as interim parking and other details are determined. Note that Antheus now has 17% of Hyde Park's rental properties. Representative Eli Ungar said that the economics is against building new rental buildings in Hyde Park.
Gang is one of the most respected and largest woman-owned green/LEEDS architectural firms in the country.
See takes that are very different from that below on the meeting and project, below.

Revealed was a 25-story, 268-feet, 136 unit building. The latter is not set and will depend on such things as due-diligence marketing "advice" from the financing firm, but is expected to be a mix of sizes but to keep the number of units per floor small (4 to 8). The developers insisted they will not go higher. The project will consist of replacement and new parking, a lobby and club area intended so serve as a context-friendly transition to Cornell, the tower, the alley moved northward, and the independent 5628 building that will not undergo significant change, will stay rental, and serve as a buffer for the existing condo buildings to the north. (The Cornell block is almost all condo low rise or single homes.)

The developer promised a careful interim parking plan that will provide spaces for every existing tenant, even if valet and shuttle service has to be brought in.

The developer will ask the city for permission to move the alley to the edge of the 5528 building as well as to include the latter building in the existing Windermere planned unit development. (The developer seemed to say that 5528 will remain a separate LLC from that owning the Windermere and, until units are sold and an association formed the new site.) They and the Alderman would also petition to make the remaining south part of Cornell also northbound one-way.

Drop-off buses and traffic for Bret Harte would go north on Cornell, west on the new alley, and south along the east edge of the Harte property, or north via alley to 55th. The developer is negotiating with Bret Harte re: its drop-off and parking for staff as well as to pay to redo the playground and landscaping. Entries to the building and to parking will be on Cornell. And the Cornell face will be designed as contextual to Cornell, including the tower part being setback.

The building has been set back from 56th to minimize shadows on both the Windermere House and the houses to the north. Landscaping will ameliorate and ground parking south of the building. The building, designed by Jeanie Gang and Gang Studios, will have many green and energy/heat efficient features and will be bird- and neighbor-friendly through such features as tilted and tailored glass and an offset, faceted, rugs face that will make it distinct from most modernist buildings.

Shadow studies were shown and explained, showing that shadows at one time of the year will encroach on the front yards of two houses, but go no further. Main impact of shadows will be on units in Windermere House with west exposure, and efforts were made to minimize the shadows.

Some said they want no height, or that the building should be "classical" like the Windermere, or that at least a lower section should have a face wall up to the 56th sidewalk (shown by a map of 56th to the Drive to not fit in with existing, which is a saw tooth profile). But most seemed pleased or accepting, provided the interim parking and logistics are good. Alderman Hairston also felt, when asked by this reporter, that the project is a "home run."

Schedule: nothing happens before fall of 2007.

Coverage of the evolving plan:

Herald, October 11, 2006.

MAC Property Management LLC will seek public input at 7 p.m., Oct. 23 [2006], at the Windermere House, 1642 E. 56th St., on plans to build condominiums at the corner of 56th Street and Cornell Avenue adjacent to Bret Harte Elementary, 1556 E. 56th St., on the northwest corner of 56th Street and Cornell avenue. It is currently being used as a parking lot.

The New Jersey-based company took over operations at the Windermere Sept. 29 when another company, Windermere House, LLC, bought the 220-unit rental building from former owner Sheldon Basking, of Metroplex, Inc. Windermere House, LLC, was created for the sole purpose of owning the property. MAC shares a New Jersey Address with Antheus Capital, LLC, which provides investment capital.

Hairston said MAC provided her with preliminary plans for a low-rise development. "The building will fit into the neighborhood," Hairston said. "It is not going to obstruct views." Drawings call for grade-level and some below-grade parking, the alderman said. And the developer plans to ask the city for permission to push back the alley running between the proposed site and another parking lot just north of it, thereby expanding the lot size.

Hairston said moving the alley north would improve safety conditions around Bret Harte by separating the children from traffic. "There have been problems with people speeding through the alley, she said. "If you can lessen the opportunity for children to come in contact with moving vehicles, it's a good thing."

Almost all of the land surrounding the Windermere as well as the parking lot is zoned R-5 and RM-5, which makes it unlikely that the developer will need the city to approve a zoning change to build condominiums. "Regardless of what the city requires, it's my policy to have a community process," Hairston said."It's important for people to have a say-so."

Herald article cites Peter Skosey of Metropolitan Planning Council, others talk about upside to density in relation to 56th Cornell project, especially when close to transit.

(Skosey grew up in Hyde Park.) Hyde Park Herald, November 16, 2006. By Erin Meyer

The density of a proposed mixed-use condominium development for East Hyde Park will benefit the neighborhood as a whole, according to city planner Peter Skosey.

Englewood, N.J.-based Antheus Capital plans to build a 25-story, 268-feet high mix-use condominium complex on the northwest corner of 56th Street and Cornell Avenue. The proposed development, according to Skosey, vice president of external relations a Metropolitan Planning Council, is an appropriate use of he land, which is zoned as a planned development."Rather than focusing on the positive benefits--the increase in housing options, more customers for retail and more transit--the focus is always on parking," Skosey said.

He added that the density associated with planned developments encourages pedestrian-friendly retail districts. In some cases, Skosey said, more density also means more affordable units. "In order for the economics to work you have to spread the cost over a larger number of units," he said.

He also spoke to the importance of a pedestrian-friendly design. "Ideally this development should have nice frontage on 56th and Cornell with the garage entrance off the alley so cars interfere as little as possible with people walking on the sidewalk," he said.

Antheus has become a major Hyde Park property owner, having bought through different limited liability corporations 19 neighborhood properties, including Algonquin Apartments, Windermere House and Village Center. Six of those properties are located on Cornell Avenue. This is the development company's first project involving new construction in the neighborhood...

Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th) commended Antheus for working with her office and the community. "This company has been true to their word," she said. "You don't get the feeling that they are trying to pull something over on you or rush something through."

Before it can be approved by the city, Antheus' proposal will undergo more review than most. Due to the property's proximity to the lakefront and public parks it is subject to Chicago's Lakefront Protection Ordinance. The ordinance comprises 14 policies and 13 purposes that developments within a fourth of a mile of the lakefront must comply with. "We have been blessed," said Irma Tranter, president of Friends of the Parks. "Chicago is unique among other cities with the lakefront park system. The ordinance is the most recent effort to ensure that it remains pen, free and clear." Tranter said the particular parts of the ordinance that would apply to 56th Street and Cornell avenue include how the building impacts access to the green space, park space and the Museum of Science and Industry. Increased vehicular traffic is also a concern. "The building should not block the sunlight for example. It should ensure a harmonious relationship between lakefront parks and the community edge," she said.

While many of those who live in the immediate area are calling on the developer to scale down the size of the building, others say the 136-unit condominium is exactly what the neighborhood needs. Hyde Parker Rushim Bains returned to the area after living in Washington, D.C. "I came back to Hyde Park because I love it," he said. "But the neighborhood lacks so many of the amenities North Side neighborhood enjoy, particularly in terms of retail options." Bains described Hyde Park as an "island" and pointed to the planned 17-story condominium development at 53rd Street and Cornell Avenue expected to break ground this spring. "More density in East Hyde Park along the Metra tracks will mean better transit and more retail. That's how it works" he said.

Rushim Bains tells in Herald letter, NIMBYism alive in Hyde Park. November 15.

The headline "Resident blast condo development" in the Nov. 8 issue of the Herald made it appear as if there was overwhelming opposition to this development from the neighbors, but the text in your article appeared to suggest it was more 50/50. If there is anything that adds thunder to what is known as NIMBYism (Not IN My Back Yard), it's the illusion that opposition is much greater than it really is.

This discourages developers and can falsely influence the alderman, and we all get stuck with a dull and uninspiring parking lot because a handful of neighbors don't want anything built next to them. Of course, in light of the struggling retail scene in Hyde Park, as well as problems with affordable housing, simple supply and demand dictates that a lot more housing is the ultimate cure for this chronic situation--a fact that has totally slipped past many people.

All this aside, how would you describe the actual strength of the opposition to this proposal based on the last meeting? The one-sided negative responses in the letters section (of the same issue) are quite disappointing. From complaints about traffic and parking, to demands for a park instead (get real), to concerns about shadows (this is Chicago, people), these are the same cyclical arguments NIMBY's post across the board, from neighborhood to neighborhood. It's almost as if people don't realize they live in a major American city.

I would hate to see such a beautiful design by a renowned and talented architect such as Jeanne Gang get scrapped or get replace by another one of those dull, monotonous, cookie-cutter brick boxes because some neighbors have no aesthetic sense whatsoever.

Hyde Park has a great collection of architecture, so why are we trying to stop this tradition here and now?

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Note, we have been told that sale of the Windermere, 1642 E. 56th, will not bring conversion or a change in the status of that large, upscale rental building. The ballroom will house a state-of-the-art neuroimaging center (in conjunction with U of C Hospitals). (It was not clear to us whether that will be the current ballroom in the southeast corner--the once Anchorage Bar and later Jewish Senior Center--or the old ballroom in the north center--probably latter to avoid street vibration.
Top More on Antheus- 1

Herald, October 18, 2006. By Erin Meyer

MAC Property Management, LLC, will seek public input at 7 p.m., Oct. 23, at the Windermere House, 1642 E. 56th St., on plan to build condominiums at the corner of 56th Street and Cornell Avenue, said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th).

The proposed site is adjacent to Bret Harte Elementary, 1556 E. 56th St., on the northwest corner of 56th Street and Cornell Avenue. It is currently being used as a parking lot. The New Jersey-based company took over operations at the Windermere Sept. 29 when another company, Windermere House, LLC, bought the 220-unit rental building from former owner Sheldon Baskin, of Metroplex, Inc. Windermere House, LLC, was created for the sole purpose of owning the property. MAC shares a New Jersey address with Antheus Capital, LLC, which provides investment capital.

Hairston said MAC provided her with preliminary plans for a low-rise development. "The building will fit into the neighborhood," Hairston said. "It is not going to obstruct any views." Drawings call for grade-level paring and some below-grade parking, the alderman said. And the developer plans to ask the city for permission to push back the alley running between the proposes side and another parking lot just north of it, thereby expanding the lot size.

Hairston said moving the alley north would improve safety conditions around Bret Harte by separating the children from traffic. "There have been problems with people speeding through the alley," she said. "If you can lessen the opportunity for children to come in contact with [traffic...]

Almost all of the land surrounding the Windermere as well as the parking lot is zoned R-5 an RM-5, which makes it unlikely that the developer will need the city to approve a zoning change to build condominiums. "Regardless of what the city requires, it's my policy to have a community process," Hairston said. "It's important for people to have a say-so." Top

Herald October 25 2006. By Erin Meyer and Daniel J. Yovich. Seeking answers to new condos. Windermere owners propose 25 story building next door

Neighbors of Hyde Park's newest condominium development sought answers during a Monday N.J.-based Antheus Capital, 56th Street and Cornell Avenue.

About one third of approximately 60 [sic over 100] neighbors in attendance were tenants of the Windermere House, 1642 E. 56th St. Several said they were disappointed that they had to learn of the condominium project from a newspaper account instead of the Windermere management company. [Management reps said they delayed a planned meeting with residents because they wanted to bring them a complete parking and construction conditions plan, details of which should be ready within a couple weeks. One suspects that they scheduled this meeting as a preliminary heads up for stakeholders, and it got away into a public meeting before they could set up a residents meeting.]

Mitchell Brown, a 16-year resident, said one reason he chose to live in the Windermere is because it is one of only a few high-end rental properties with parking in the neighborhood. "It is very offensive to learn of his from the newspaper and not from our building [managers]," Brown said before the meeting began. "If this project is going to do away with our parking, even on a temporary basis, I am gong to have to rethink my options."

Antheus President [sic? MAC President?] Eli Ungar said the company had planned to meet with Windermere residents earlier but had been unable to do so. "I know parking is on a lot of people's minds," he said. "What I want to tell you is that we will rebuild each and every parking space after construction."

Zoning lawyer Graham Grady told neighbors that the property is currently zoned as a planned development, which is the same as Windermere House. Resident Christine Brown asked if the building at 5528 S. Cornell Avenue would require rezoning. Ungar explained that Antheus bought that building prior to acquiring the Windermere and that the company does not plan to make any major changes to the property. [Except to move the alley closer to it. He will seek to add the building to the PUD, he said.] He reiterated that all the existing parking spaces would be preserved or replaced, in addition to an adequate number of spaces to serve the proposed development.

Ungar said Antheus would also schedule a second meeting with Windermere tenants. "What we would like to do is meet with all of the Windermere's residents and retailers and with their help hammer out a plan," he said.

 

The proposed site currently serves as a parking lot. But in 1893 the parcel was home tot he original Windermere Hotel, constructed for the Columbian Exposition.

During the past decade, Antheus has become a major Hyde Park property owner, having bought through different limited liability corporations 19 neighborhood properties, including the Algonquin Apartments, Windermere House and Village Center. Six of those properties are located on or near South Cornell Avenue. [The other line of acquisitions is along and north and south of 53rd Street from Lake Park to Woodlawn, in addition to being a player along Lake Park at 47th. It sets up individual owning corps and uses subsidiary (?) MAC Properties as its manager.]

This is the development company's first project involving new construction in Hyde Park. Current plans call for 136 units with grade-level and below-grade parking or the complex. Construction plans also will likely include a proposal to relocate to the north an existing alley the juts behind the property, which is located east of the Bret Harte Elementary School. Fifth Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston said she was adopting a wait-and-see attitude on the project before giving it her final blessing. "I want to hear what the people have to say tonight," Hairston said. Top

In the November 1 Herald are coverage and two letters on the Windermere project that are very different in tone and content from other comments, showing how differently people can view the same meeting.

Neighbors blast condo plan- Cornell residents ask Antheus Capital to scale down Windermere West building. By Erin Meyer

Residents whose homes share the block with a condominium development proposed for Cornell Avenue and 56th Street are challenging how the 25j-story "glass tower" would fit into the historic neighborhood.

Kathy Newhouse has lived for 37 years across the street from the site, which currently serves as a parking lot. "I think this development would forever alter the block," she said from her home in the 5500 block of South Cornell Avenue. "This area is already over built. We don't have any breathing room." If the proposed development goes forward, Newhouse's living room window will look out onto a glass exercise and pool facility.

....the company invited neighbors to an open meeting Oct. 25 where preliminary plans were unveiled. Antheus, accompanied by a zoning lawyer, presented shadow and traffic studies and detailed preliminary plans for the complex.

Since the meeting, anxiety has increased among some neighbors--particularly those living in nearby single-family homes--about the building's height, density and design, as well as its potential impact on traffic and parking.

"The houses at the end will be in eternal darkness," said Elisabeth Clemens of the 5500 block of South Cornell. "We don't want the tall gloomy buildings of the Loop in Hyde Park."

While some neighbors want the building scaled down, the developer reported a positive response from others. "We are delighted with the strong support our initial plans for Windermere West have received from the broad community. As a significant property owner in Hyde Park, we will continue to work to further the design for the benefit of the entire community," [Eli]Ungar said. "Hyde Park's vibrancy and rich architectural legacy demand that this must ultimately be an asset for the entire neighborhood."

Some local officials also said the proposal is an appropriate use for the land. "I think if we are going to do a large residential complex this is a very good spot for it, with its proximity to Metra trains and the CTA," said Bob Mason, executive director of the South East Chicago Commission. "Density is not always a bad thing."

Residents will have at least one more opportunity to weigh in on the proposal. Due the the property's proximity to the shoreline and public parks, it is subject Chicago's Lakefront Protection Ordinance. The ordinance requires the Chicago Plan Commission hold a public hearing before any significant changes can be made to the property. Top

 

Interfaith vows to pressure developer for affordable housing. By Daniel J. Yovich

The Hyde Park Cluster of Interfaith Open Communities will seeks the support of Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) in trying to force a developer to provide affordable housing units as part of his plan to build a new condominium complex west of Windermere House. At its October 27 meeting, the Interfaith group voted to meet with Hairston as soon as possible to enlist her help in forcing Englewood, N.J. -based Antheus Capital, LLC to provide approximately 20 new units of affordable housing in lieu of its plan to build a 25-story condo tower on the northwest corner of 56th Street and Cornell Avenue.

As alderman, Hairston holds significant clout over zoning matters affecting her ward. In 2001 [sic?] she put the kibosh on a proposal by the Vivekananda Vedanta Society's plans to build a mid-rise on the 5400 block of South Hyde Park Boulevard in the wake of neighbors' concerns that the project would add to the area's housing density.

Hairston said she regularly meets with the Interfaith group and wants to hear their thoughts on why they think Antheus should be forced to provide low-and moderate-income rental units if they are allowed to build the condo complex. "I think this is a conversation that needs to continue," Hairston said. "I understand the concerns here and realize we need to talk about how we can best achieve a solution that works best for the neighborhood."

One of the major housing problems in the Hyde Park section of Hairston's ward is the aging baby-boomer population that is steadily being priced-out of affordable housing, Hairston said. That trend is likely to continue. Despite a slump in condo sales and conversions in many part of the city, Hyde Park condos continue to command top dollar and local property owners converting apartment to condos have so far been undeterred by talk of a bursting housing bubble, said Patricia Wilcoxen, Interfaith's program director.

Through more than a dozen limited liability corporations, Antheus has become a major player in the Hyde Park housing market. Since 2001, Antheus has bought 20 different properties totaling 2,000 rental units, or about 17 percent of the Hyde Park-Kenwood area's total rental units. Antheus' long-term investment strategy includes extensive rehabilitation and remodeling of its properties, recouping some of these costs through increased rents.

"Antheus is very responsible property owner," said Lawrence Bloom, a former 5th Ward alderman and real estate broker who has been involved in at least on Antheus property deal. "They invest in their properties. I don't think any alderman has gotten a complaint from an Antheus tenant regarding upkeep or maintenance."

But the increased rents Antheus charges after rehab projects further erodes the area's stock of affordable housing and helps contribute to rent increases across the Hyde Park area, Wilcoxen said. "We realize our limitations and that there is little we can do on our own to force the developer to do the right thing here, to set aside some affordable housing," Wilcoxen said. "But we can encourage him to embrace some possible solutions, and meeting with the alderman will be our first step."

In an interview with Herald reporters before the Oct. 23 public meeting, Antheus President Eli Ungar said he was sympathetic to neighborhood concerns about the dwindling stock of affordable housing. Ungar noted the continued conversions of Hyde Park apartment units into condominiums benefits Antheus, which, through MAC Properties LLC now controls about one in every six apartments in the community. "I also realize that the condo conversion trend is not helpful to the community," Ungar said.

Ungar said he also understand the problems faced by some longtime residents who have seen their housing costs increase over the past several years, and acknowledged that low- and moderate-priced housing in the area is becoming scarce. But penalizing developers for the ongoing gentrification of an area is not a solution to the problem, Ungar said, noting that the problem exists not only in Hyde Park but in many other areas across the country.

"I think this is a national issue and that it is unfair to place the burden of a solution solely on a builder," Ungar said. "If we're really going to get serious about this problem, then it's going to require a solution that involves input at the local, state and national levels."

A Tale of two wards

The Hyde Park Interfaith group is composed of most of the area's churches and synagogues, its mission to help residents become informed and active in addressing the problems and seeking solutions to the area's lack of affordable housing. The group has long

Supported 4th Ward Ald. Toni Preckwinkle's proposed affordable housing ordinance which would require developers of new and rehabilitated housing to set aside 15 percent of their units for low- and moderate-income buyers. That bill has languished for two years in the City Council's housing committee.

Preckwinkle said she has been pro-active in trying to retain what affordable housing remains in her district, requiring builders in the ward to adhere to the requirements in her proposed bill. "The truth is, we've tried to implement the ordinance, especially as it applies to public-owned land that is sold to private developers," Preckwinkle said, noting Oakwood Shores, Jazz on the Boulevard an Lake Park Crescent among the new development projects where she has won set-aside concessions from builders.

The lack of affordable housing is much more pronounced in Preckwinkle's ward than in Hairston's, Bloom said. In February, the Chicago Tribune Sunday magazine noted areas of Preckwinkle's ward are among the most rapidly gentrifying in the city, citing a real estate boom not only in Kenwood but also in Oakland. "You can't fairly compare the two wards, it's apples to oranges comparison," Bloom said, noting the relative affluence of the northern part of Hairston's ward when compare to the South Shoe and Woodlawn areas of her district.

Hairston said one of her immediate concerns is the high concentration of low-income housing in the southern section of her ward, and said she is taking a "block-by-block" approach in analyzing what new projects might mesh well with a neighborhood's character.

"You can't concentrate low-income housing in very narrow areas," Hairston said. "We have to take a balanced approach to this issue. I don't think the solution is for all of it (the ward's affordable housing) to fall on one side of our ward."

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Letter by Robert Greenspoon and Jennifer Yorke in November 1 Herald

Hyde Park learned Oct. 2 that Antheus Capital plans a 25-story glass box with checkerboard facade to tower over the Windermere apartments, and blot the morning sun on the Bret Harte playground. The west alley between 55th an 56th streets on Cornell Avenue will move directly across a row of single family homes. That row of homes will also face directly into a natatorium. Two hundred off-street parking spaces will disappear for a year. This "plan" will seriously alter the character of the block and create unhealthy density.

Antheus Capital (and its corporate sister MAC Property Management) have no apparent experience in new high-rise construction. Yet principal Eli Ungar asks the community to trust him; he knows what he's doing. Mr. Ungar and his architect Jeanne Gang do not live in Hyde Park--Ungar is from Englewood, N.J. When confronted at the Oct. 23 community forum, Ms. Gang offered no specifics for how her glass building will comply with applicable regulations and good environmental sense, and avoid interfering with the migratory patterns of Canadian geese and mallard ducks.

More than one member of the community used the word "ugly" at the forum. Does Hyde Park need a 268-foot glass monument--a possible danger to children during construction and to the environment afterwards?

Is there a better place for it than in a potential preservation district? The scarred-glass block would loom over the trees and playgrounds of Jackson Park and capture the critical glances of visitors to our famous museums, not to mention drivers on Lake Shore Drive.

Mr. Ungar, there is an alternative. You say your recent purchase of the Windermere apartments (and 19 other Hyde Park rental properties in the last few years) will bring you financial success. You are already taking advantage of apartment scarcity caused by condo conversion by less insightful and less sensitive developers. You have a great opportunity now to improve and give back to the community that will support you and your company. Can you find a way to convert the "Windermere West" surface parking lot to additional green space enclosed for and devoted to the use of the elementary school next door? A gift to the children and the environment will win you friends in Hyde Park; an architectural mistake will not. Top


Kathie Newhouse says Back to the drawing board

The 5500 block of South Cornell Avenue is a designated historic district. On hearing of the proposed 25-story glass building for the corner of 56th Street and Cornell, I immediately felt cognitive dissonance--similar to when Marshall Fields became Macy's

The height and cantilevered glass-box style of the Antheus Capital group "plan" are clearly inappropriate. As a component of the plan, north of the current alley and fronting on Cornell, would be a glass-covered pool/exercise room.

The open, airy space, of the two existing parking lots offers relief and offsets the over-built density of this area. I just doubt that the limited space will allow for replacement of all existing parking places plus 136 more spaces for the new structure.

Any such structure ought to be no higher than the Windermere House and be built primarily of brick. As I've said, this area is a historic district. Our house is a George Maher, built in 1888. My suggestion is: Back to the drawing board!

Diana Jiang says high-rises detract from quality of life

About a year ago there was much talk and debate about a proposal to build a high-rise at the corner of 53rd Street and Cornell Avenue. The Tax Increment Financing Advisory Council supported the plan, eagerly thinking of the increased revenue the building would provide. The subject faded from view with the news that he developer was having trouble finding acceptable property for affordable housing.

Suddenly, this fall, we have learned that the development has received approval from the TIF, and that the developer is planning to begin building this spring! Now we are learning about another large development on Cornell Avenue, this one at the corner of 56th Street and Cornell Avenue. Both of these developments create very similar concerns for us, and, because they would both be fairly close together, we believe that they need to be considered together by the community.

We believe that these new high-rises would detract from the quality of life in East Hyde Park. For example:

1. It is not safe to have the only driveway for a parking garage for 200+ cars located so closely to the intersection of 53rd Street and Cornell Avenue. Students going to two separate schools heavily use the intersection and a crossing guard is necessary due to all the traffic at that intersection. Adding a driveway for a busy garage will make it much more dangerous.

2. Very much the same thing can be said of the parking garage for the proposed development at 56th Street and Cornell Avenue.56th Street is very narrow, and with Cornell Avenue one-way for most of that block, 56th Street will be the only access to the development. How will this affect the children waling to and from Bret Harte Elementary School each day?

3 If you count Bret Harte's playground, the 56th Street development is next to or directly across the street from three playgrounds.

4. The 53rd Street development will have the only driveway for its parking garage located directly across from a school's driveway.

5. During the summer, that same driveway will be very close to the driveway for a 250-child summer camp. During the morning drop-off there are often backups of cars waiting to enter the parking lot.

6 Several years ago 59th Street in front of the Lab Schools was two-way. Because of concerns about traffic and the safety of the children being dropped off, a few blocks of 59th Street were changed to one-way to decrease the amount of traffic near the school.Why is there talk of doing the opposite near these East Hyde Park schools?

7. How will the residents of the area like it if Cornell Avenue has to become one-way between 53rd and 51st streets?

8. What about narrow 56th Street and Bret Harte? Will 56th have to be changed to one-way?

9. Cornell Avenue is already busy and should not be expected to handle the additional car traffic. Even before the sewer construction on Hyde Park Boulevard, there were often eight or more cars backed up at the Cornell Avenue stop sign. The proposed building at 53dd Street would have something like 165 units and the one at 56th Street would have another 136, which means there will be 200 to 600 additional cars driving through this little corner of Hyde Park. Will we now need to fill the area with traffic lights?

10. These luxury high-rises will likely be occupied by many two-car families, putting extra stress on parking in the neighborhood.

11. More high-density developments will diminished the neighborly feel of Cornell Avenue.

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Former ald. Larry Bloom's criticism of Ald. Preckwinkle's set aside ordinance re: the 56th Cornell building was in turn criticized by Marc Lipinski, who in the past has done work for the Alderman. Lipinski Nov. 8 asked what interest Bloom has in the Antheus project.

Maryal Stone Dale says, Hyde Park is not Central Station South

I sympathize with all the neighbors' complaints with the idea of the sky-high condo but also feel that it is very questionable that a building like that be set right next to a school. This neighborhood is not "Central Station South" for young upwardly-mobile career types but a residential neighborhood for families. Its proximity to the Metra station is totally irrelevant, too.

Those of us who lived through Urban Renewal still remember that one of its guiding principles was opening up space around schools and other institutions. So now developers are going to build there? Perhaps Ray's field is next? Lots of room there.

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56th-Cornell developers talk with, answer questions from HPKCC Board January 4, 2007. Presentation by "Back to the Drawing Board" group in April 2007 follows.

56th and Cornell Developers discuss the project, affordable housing with HPKCC Board
January 29, 2007. By Gary Ossewaarde

On January 4the Conference Board heard Antheus Capital; Bell, Boyd and Lloyd and Studio Gang architects presented and answered questions on their proposed development on the Windermere parking lot, northwest corner of 56th and Cornell. Eli Ungar of Antheus Capital and David Quinn of Studio Gang were the main presenters along with Graham Grady. They described the stake they have in the project being done right and without harm, as owner of more than twenty rental properties in the neighborhood, several on Cornell Avenue, including the Windermere House and the long three-flat building just to the north of the proposed site. Their properties are upgraded and to be held for the long run. This will be their first non-rental and new construction in Hyde Park.

Careful site, shadow and traffic flow evaluation preceded structure placement. Meetings were begun with neighbors, community organizations and adjacent Bret Harte School from early in the planning. They have been acutely aware that current vicinity residents, the school and businesses require no loss of parking during and after construction and an adequate number of spaces for the new residents and that Cornell is a modest density residential street. Assets include proximity to transit and Jackson Park and the lakefront.

They hired Studio Gang, an architectural firm that has experience in innovative solutions and environmentally green structures and asked them to design a building that is new rather than old-looking, contextual including in its height, attractive, bird and environmentally friendly, neighbor friendly, parking-neutral, financially viable, and an asset to the community over the long run. No retail is to be included.

At 268 feet and 25 stories, the structure is between the tallest and shorter structures in height on 56th Street. It will be set back 40 feet from 56th--the other buildings on the street have cut-ins-- and will present no blank walls. There will be a ground level rise to the lobby to accommodate the underground part of the five levels of parking. Parking will not be visible from Cornell; a stepped-back, glassed health club would front instead. The number of units per floor, their size and numbers of bedrooms will be determined by market factors and is designed to be flexible.

Two problems that were not yet fully resolved were entry and exit for parking (planned for 56th, but with some board members suggesting entry from Cornell), Bret Harte School accommodation, and the alleyways and ground parking to the north. The developer would like to provide the school with a new playground, greenery, staff parking, access route, and pupil drop off (off-street) that would not adversely affect Cornell. Cornell would become one way northbound from 56th and not just from the present parking entry, solving safety hazards for the school and bike/pedestrian and auto traffic.

The tower has intriguing, environmentally friendly features. First, inward-angling glass panels on the south facade are intended to not attract birds, provide unit owners privacy and reduce both heat load and light and glare for neighbors. (The glass will look green from the ground because it will reflect the park.) The north face is designed to bring more winter light into the units. Second, features will be incorporated to reduce energy and utility use and heat load, and the building may seek “LEED” certification.

Asked about prospects for “affordable” units, the developers said that the market makes it very difficult to build new structures containing affordable owner units, and new rental buildings are completely out of the question in Hyde Park or nearby (none having been built since 1969). The replacement cost for a $5 million-priced building is $15 million and assessments and taxes for similar buildings vary enormously. Programs designed to help, such as Section 8 and Class 9 have now gotten out of balance, so that only desperate landlords will use them---until they convert the building to condos, and those that have a good market for their units will turn down prospective occupiers under these programs who won’t or can’t pay market prices or rents no matter who goes to bat for them. Section 8 at present is not profitable to landlords and is tied up in inspections and other bureaucracy. (Class 9 subsidizes 20 percent (was 33%) for multiple-unit and $16% for single-occupant structures and involves tax breaks if the units are upgraded—but this is no longer profitable and is inappropriate for an owner building, the board was told. Landlords are phasing out of Class 9.)

HPKCC board members asked for careful thinking and best solutions for interim parking, construction staging, the look of the lobby and entry area, avoidance of a wide curb cut for vehicular access while providing building drop off but not adversely impacting pedestrians and the play lots in the park, best points for school drop off, service vehicles and vehicular parking entry and access and circulation.

The current schedule is to proceed with planning and hearings, then full design, with startup desired for late 2007 and completion early 2009. Management will be by MAC Properties (an affiliate of Antheus) until owner occupiers have a majority of units and form a board.

"Back to the Drawing Board" group presents its concerns to HPKCC Board April 5, 2007.

56th Cornell Development guest presentation and discussion at HPKCC Board mtg., April 5 2007. Opposition presentation by Mr. Robert Greenspoon and associates.
By Gary Ossewaarde, Secretary

Robert Greenspoon, attorney and neighbor; Rebecca Moore, neighbor; Gerald Salzman, parking and traffic expert with Desman Associates; and Oscar Worrill, a city inspector, submitted a few copies of a binder, “Back to the Drawing Board, Presentation to the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference April 5, 2007,” supported with Power Point and discussion. The document included a Traffic and Parking Review and a compete draft of proposed zoning amendment ordinance changes requested by the developers, Antheus Capital, LLC (who presented at the January board meeting).

Initial statement and concerns by the presenters included:

· A zoning change is required (filed February 7 by Antheus) during which process there is an opportunity to seek changes;
· 61 neighbors have signed a petition of objection;
· The building is higher than neighbor groups were told (299 ft .vs. 268);
· 36 parking spaces are lacking from fulfilling the zoning requirements of 1:1 for condos and of no net loss to existing space renters (In fact, according to ordinance, they said, neither present or new parties may be favored against the other in a zoning change.)
· Cornell will have a 50-foot high long face north of the 299-foot high tower, and Bret Harte will face a blank west wall on the extension, even if vines are planted there. The entire complex is twice as long north-south as either Bret Harte or the Windermere.
· Bret Harte is cast in a shadow a good part of the day;
· The 5528-32 Cornell affordable building will have an alley pushed right up against its front doors, with a large volume of traffic and sitting cars (resulting in smog) especially at school drop off and pick up times, and will in other ways become unattractive. These tenants of affordable units bear the bad impacts and these valuable affordable units are degraded and devalued. (Ordinance requires assessment of community health, safety and welfare);
· The traffic and drop off plans for the new complex, the school and regular traffic are poor and inferior, not well thought out, create conflicts and non compliance with rules, and endanger children. Many parents will make easy drop offs so the kids will be running across Stony Island, 56th or Cornell. (The present school traffic arrangement is bad, they say, but the proposed will be worse.)
· Little planning is indicated for mitigation of construction noise and dust—the latter having affected asthma during other construction projects, especially by schools.

They said the project is objected to by 61 neighbors. It is likely to go forward and they are not trying to stop it, but there is room for changes in this once-in-a-generation opportunity: The project is still before the alderman and zoning commission staff, with city hearings not yet scheduled.
Their document and talk condensed the key flaws to:


· Missing inclusionary affordable housing—should be the same as what Ald. Preckwinkle is doing in the 4th Ward, 22 units, except this 15% should be in the complex. Why can others such as Leal make a profit with an affordable units agreement but Antheus not?
· Missing parking spaces (36);
· Unfavorable impacts on current affordable-housing residents at 5528-32 Cornell (40% being Section 8);
· Flawed traffic plan with conflicts;
· Traffic flow, including likely parent drop off noncompliance Child/car and pedestrian/car conflict is bad.
· The character of the complex is non-compatible. (It should have brick and terra cotta, no blank walls or impacting shadows, and height should be topped at the highest buildings along 56th (apparently excluding 1700); currently no feature is contextual with anything the vicinity).

They called for a new plan that reflects Hyde Park’s and adjacent neighbors’ character and needs. Opposing the current plan: nearly all property owners within 250 feet and affordable housing advocates, represented by the law firm of Ungaretti and Harris. They requested HPKCC to join them.

Discussion:
Asked about Bret Harte reaction, the presenters reported that the LSC had held discussions with the developer about concerns and had approved the project for consideration of a substantial gift for school amenities that would be available upon zoning and plan commission approval. The presenters also said the LSC members indicated they were unaware that the project is not a done deal but still open. Some HPKCC members advised that the presenters would not get far unless they persuaded Bret Harte to modify its position.

Asked about the position of the 5528-32 residents, Mr. Greenspoon said they appear very concerned but are reluctant to get involved because their landlord is the developer.

HPKCC board members suggested that, to garner community support and have an honest evaluation of the development, the presenters need to develop an alternative physical plan. The presenters felt preparing an alternative might be trying to constrain the developer--a plan is the developer’s burden, and they do not have resources.

Another asked if they had made the presentation to the alderman if they, the presenters, are sure she really has an open mind on the development. They had not yet. On Alderman Hairston’s position, they cited a Crain’s article of March 5, saying she has not made up her mind. On the alderman’s approach to affordability, they said there is no evidence she has leaned on the developer on this issue.

President Rumsey summarized reactions of board members to the developer’s presentation at a previous board meeting: Several had expressed admiration for the green (LEEDS) commitment, the design, or for a high building. Members had also expressed concern about the sloped approach to an elevated entry platform and too much setback from the street; concerns about lobby and Cornell looks and design; traffic flow conflicts including on the 56th sidewalk in general—including too many curb cuts. Members had suggested moving the auto entry to the complex to Cornell Avenue.

Members now added that little had been much thought out as it was early in the planning, including staging, storage and alternatives for current parkers during construction. (Greenspoon noted that zoning hearings actually do not consider such issues.) Other matters brought up as not addressed by the developer included garbage pickup, the fact that many children come to school via the alley along Metra, which would become more heavily traveled including for pickup and delivery. The sidewalk issues were raised again as really serious. Yet, members thought the developer seemed flexible and willing to address concerns.

Mr. Salzman of Desman Associates gave a breakdown on traffic and parking concerns: 142 units create 298 trips in and out a day. At peak times about 37 cars leave, 35 enter an hour. 208 parking spaces are presently available, mostly used by Windermere residents. The new building will result in a 68 percent increase in traffic moves. It’s not the number of trips but how traffic flows, and when that may overwhelm the site.

350 parking spaces are needed to accommodate current and new parkers; only 314 are provided for a net deficit of 36. Current law requires 1 space per condo unit. The zoning ordinance frowns on discriminating against either former or present users.

A member asked if the presenters had considered seeking to have the building moved to another location, presumably not next to a school, and enlisting the Schools CEO, for example, to accomplish this. This was an option, Mr. Worrill said, noting that in recent times the only housing built right against schools was low rise such as townhomes, with greenery required.

Mr. Worrill said that also important are the design and scale incompatibility with neighbors, density concerns (citing the Metropolitan Planning Council that density must be done with care and good site design), and the accommodation of affordable units, saying that the developer would still have 120 or so units to make up for not recovering full value on 21 or 22.

President Rumsey noted that the board is very concerned about affordability issues and suggested we need the current definition of affordability. He also suggested some of the other issues could be addressed if the 50-foot high extension north of the tower along Cornell Avenue, were eliminated.

The presenters were thanked. Rumsey agreed to give the presenters contacts. Two copies of the presentation packet were given the board.

Later in the meeting, the board consensus was that many want the project to go forward and like many aspects of it, but that there are serious concerns meriting placement of the matter on the May meeting agenda
.

Changes revealed in presentation, discussion with Bret Harte.

Antheus Capital’s revised proposal for a 26-story condominium development on the northwest corner of 56th and Cornell,
Antheus presentation before the Bret Harte Principal and Local School Council, April 16, 2007

The team of Eli Ungar (Antheus Capital) Graham Grady (Bell, Boyd and Lloyd), and Studio Gang Architects first discussed compensatory and good will improvements the developer offers Bret Harte School. One, air conditioners, provided receipt can be worked out with CPS, would be installed this fall, before construction starts and certainly before the 2008 warm weather.

New playgrounds (and the developer agrees these will be completely new and installed in phases) have problems to be worked out, as the school believes the older children’s game area to the north (c30x50 or the size of a gym) may be too small and too close to adjacent buildings, parking lots, and drop offs. It is also not certain these could have ball games, replacing supervised play across the street in the park, and so could necessitate continuing to block off at least an access corridor on 56th at Stony Island.

Accessibility for persons with disabilities including parents to the school is vexing, but the developer is committed to providing whatever facilities the council prefers. Ramps: room is really tight and the structures would be intrusive and disrupt the play areas. One or more lifts would have drawbacks and limitations. The school could have dedicated rooms for meeting parents and others, now in the Windermere, later in the new building.

In short, the school gains more usable land, new playground, accessibility, and air conditioners. The school people acknowledged that these address current deficiencies at the school and the developer acknowledged it needs to both make up for inconveniences and be a long-term good neighbor.

The council said there would have to be a parents meeting to make a decision.

Developers assured the school that the space, interfaces, and separations for auto drop offs and other traffic will be sufficient. School reps said they would need to see mockups and refined scale drawings.

The new schematics by the developer showed a reduction in 56th St. curb cuts, and these will be at the same grade as the 56th sidewalk, both per Dept. of Transportation requirement. There would now be clear lines of sight of at least 50 feet long for drivers along the building driveways, which would now have gentler slopes—exit ramp rising. Views from the sidewalk and street would also be clear.

The “hill” from 56th to the tower lobby will now be less steep, lead to a traditional lobby entrance, and have a curved drive to the lobby like that of Windermere East, with greensward within and on the sides of the drive, open to the public. The drives to the building’s parking will remain west of this drive.

The tower is repositioned to reduce shadows to the school and neighbors.

Trucks and other delivery will now be hidden from view, including of the school, one in the bays, but will have to do backing and turn-around to enter the bays. (Developers expected deliveries to be seldom after the move-in period). Hours would be limited and a flag person could be provided. Space between the building drives and the start of the school drop off drive would vary from 40 to 15 feet, with a separating c. 4- foot wall. Schools objected that the traffic configuration still precludes closing off 56th should some prove necessary, although most conceded being able to avoid street closure is preferable. They also said there will be ample space between the school lot line and the north (50-foot high) wing, whose back wall will be attractively treated with vines.

The developer said the alley from 55th will be wider and safer, with scavenger carts moved back as soon as current leases for 55th St. stores (currently giving right to dumpsters in the alley) are renegotiated.

Both agreed a working group has to be set up. The developer was asked and said he wanted a vote and written statement of support. The LSC and Principal Parks said the developer must refine and specify the drawings and specifics of what they intend to do, including for the school, then come to an advertised meeting with parents. Based on the latter, the LSC will decide.

The developer’s schedule was about 16 months construction starting with preliminaries in January 2008, assuming approval by the Plan Commission and City Council, which has been petitioned but not yet scheduled. (The developers meet with city departments and the school and LSC April 24.) They expect to carry out full abatement of dust, noise, and staging. The alley and future lot to the north will be built first. The building will be LEEDS certified.

In conversations after the meeting, some school reps. said to this reporter they expect the project will be approved, anticipate inconveniences the better part of two years, and seek to keep these to a minimum and get as much improvement for the school in return as possible. The developer also said they are working as hard to make the experience and result better for neighbors including the 5528-32 building as they are to accommodate the school, and said that there will be more clear and open room for the 5528 building than from the current parking.

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HPKCC Board Discusses Proposed 56th & Cornell Development with Planners, Critics
by Gary Ossewaarde [HPKCC Secretary and board member][From the April 2007 Conference Reporter]

Major changes such only come along once in a generation are in store for 56th and Cornell, further south at 5800 and maybe elsewhere on Stony Island over the next few years. The Conference Board heard in January from of the 56th Cornell developers and in April from critics the plan, then from another with concerns about University of Chicago’s likely direction for former Doctors Hospital.

On January 4, HPKCC board members were favorably impressed but left with several concerns and unanswered questions about the proposed 26-story condo high rise for the present Windermere House parking lot, northwest corner at 56th and Cornell. Eli Ungar of Antheus Capital, developer, and David Quinn of Studio Gang Architects were the lead presenters, along with Graham Grady of Bell, Boyd and Lloyd.

Mr. Ungar stressed that as owner of many rental buildings in the area—several on Cornell, including recently-purchased Windermere House, Antheus has a stake in a having a building that makes a bold contribution and does not detract from the area. Antheus and its associated MAC Properties upgrade rental properties and hold them for the long run. This development will be their first foray into new condo construction.

Ungar and Quinn showed how site, shadow and traffic flow studies guided structure placement and site layout. Meetings with neighbors including Bret Harte school were started fairly early in the planning. They said they know the importance of no loss of parking during or after construction and that the Cornell residents, especially value the quiet and historic, low-rise architecture of their street. They believe, nonetheless, that the site, adjacent to transit, Jackson Park and the lakefront can absorb and support the increased density.

Studio Gang Architects, which has experience in innovative solutions and environmental buildings, was asked to design a new-looking, attractive building that respects neighbors including the school and birds, yet is parking neutral and financially viable.

The designed structure, then 268 feet and 25 stories (later raised a story) is midway in height between taller and shorter buildings on 56th Street. It would be set back 40 feet from 56th St. (noting that other buildings on the street also cut in and out) with a rise to the lobby entry to accommodate part of the parking. Behind the tower, set toward the south to reduce shadows, would be a 50-foot high but set back blanked-glass wall health club along Cornell.

The tower was noted as having visually interesting and environmentally friendly features, including inward facing, sloped glass walls to not attract birds, provide owner privacy, and reduce heat and utility load and glare for neighbors but bring in more winter light to the north face. Green (“LEED”) certification may be sought.

The presenters said they were prepared to make substantial improvements to Bret Harte, including the schoolyard.

Board members expressed concerns about traffic patterns and sidewalk cuts and other dangers to children and pedestrians (including for the play lots across the street). Members for solutions for interim parking, construction staging, the look of the lobby and its elevated approach and of the extension along Cornell, and patterns for traffic and service vehicles.

Asked about prospects for “affordable” units, the developers said the market makes this difficult—the last new rental building in the area was put up in 1969. Replacement costs for a $5 million-valued building is $15 million. Subsidies such as Section 8 and Class 9, they said, do not allow enough return.

The current schedule was to proceed with planning and hearings for the needed zoning change (planned development amendment) and construction from late 2007 to early 2009.

At the April 5 board meeting, a neighbors’ group seeking substantial changes to the proposal and called “Back to the Drawing Board” presented their concerns and critique. Chief presenters were neighbor Robert Greenspoon, parking expert Gerald Salzman of Desman Associates, and Oscar Worrill.

They first noted that 61 adjacent property owners had signed a petition of objection, the building has grown to 299 feet, the plan is now 36 parking spaces shy of promised no-net-loss. Features they said need to be changed are:

· Lack of inclusionary affordable housing—other developers have it

· Flawed traffic plan and missing parking parity

· Very adverse impacts on the affordable tenant building to the north

· Blank walls, shadows, and traffic hazards for the school

· Non-compatible scale, materials and design compared with Cornell Ave. and 56th St. including blank walls and continuous north-south length twice Bret Harte or the Windermere.

Board members asked questions and made suggestions for both the developer, Antheus, and the Back to the Drawing Board group, and will follow this development closely.

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Board of Ed approves Antheus proposal to build high rise near school

Herald, December 10, 2008. By Daschell M. Phillips

As part of a land transfer agreement with Antheus Capita, Chicago Public Schools (CPs) Board of Education has approve the construction company's proposed upgrades to Bret Harte Elementary School.

Earlier this year, Antheus sent the City of Chicago a proposal to build Solstice on the Park, a 26-story, 142-unit condominium building, adjacent to Bret Harte, 1556 E. 56th St. Before Antheus could pursue erecting the building, the company had to acquire a small strip of land from the Board of Education.

Initially, Bret Harte's Principal Shenethe Parks raised concerns about traffic flow congestion the new development may cause. But at its November meeting, the board adopted the Antheus proposal that would not only allow the company to build Solstice but would also provide more than 4,000 square feet of additional land to CPS. Antheus has agreed to upgrade expenses.

Peter Cassel, Antheus representative, said one of the goals Antheus had when designing the Solstice building was to help solve the pick up adn drop off dilemma at Bret Harte. Currently the parents have to pull over on 56th Street and dodge in and out of two-way traffic to get their children to the front door of the school. Based on a rendering..., Antheus plans to repurposes the alley just north of the school that will lead cars to a new one-way drive path specifically created for pick up and drop off. a new playground wil also be built to replace the present play area, which is in a dilapidated state.

Antheus also plans to offer Bret Harte usage of space on the Solstice property. "Eli Ungar, the principal at Antheus, heard that a parent was unable to get upstairs to meet with a teacher for a conference so they had to meet in the alley, which is unacceptable," said Cassel. "You have to walk up a flight of stairs to enter the school, which is not [ADA] compliant, so the Solstice condo association agreed to offer [accessible] meeting room space to the teachers for conferences"

Cassel said the school will also receive a new parking lot with 32 spaces on the school grounds and seven covered parking spaces, which is on the Solstice property. This will increased current parking spaces from 34 to 39 spaces. Construction is set to begin once Antheus secures presales of 40 percent of its condo units.

Antheus about ready to go on Bret Harte improvements, concerns remain including playground shrinkage, construction impact, school still not ADA compliant

(The new playground and drop off/parking were dedicated in early fall 2014.)

Herald, December 1, 2010. By Daschell M. Phillips

Representatives from Antheus Capital visited a Bret Harte Elementary School local school council meeting to get comments and answer questions about its updated plans for the Solstice development. In 2008, Antheus sent the city of Chicago a proposal to build Solstice in the Park, a 26-story, 142-uit condominium building, adjacent to Bret Hart, 1556 E. 56th St. Before Antheus could pursue creating the building, the company had to acquire a small strip of land from the Chicago Board of Education. The Board adopted the Antheus proposal that would allow the company to build Solstice but would also repurpose the alley just north of the school which will lead cars to a new one-way drive path specifically created for pick up and drop off of students, a new playground, five additional parking spaces and usage of meeting room space on the Solstice property by the school. A new plan is now being proposed that includes a slightly smaller playground area.

Peter Cassel, spokesman for Antheus, said the company is still in the process of configuring the new plan. If CPS approves the new plans, Antheus is expecting to begin work on the alley and school grounds in the summer of 2011.

Bret Harte Principal Shenethe Parks said the school was surprised by the news construction would take place this summer because she thought the process "was put on hold due to the economy."

"Although we do not have enough units sold to begin work on the Solstice building, we are interested in making improvements to the school and the school's parking lot without regard for condo marketing and making preparation to the site the Solstice will be built on," Cassel said.

Parks said the parents and community members at the meeting had concerns mainly about safety of the kids during construction. "They wanted to be sure that dust and debris would not cause complications for asthmatic students and that construction equipment on schools grounds would be secured," Parks said. "Antheus agreed to keep the site watered down and to secure all construction equipment."

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Village Center (City Hyde Park) plans rolled out to general enthusiasm

To Village Center story

(Based on HP Herald Digest 9/29/15) City Hyde Park, 5105 S. Harper Ave., will allow future residents to move in beginning Dec. 21 [2015], with rent starting at $1,800 for the cheapest apartment. The price range for the 180 available units is anywhere from that to $6,000 a month to secure a space in the new establishment. The one, two and three bedroom units range anywhere from 771-square feet to 1,668-square feet.

The apartments, which are designed by Studio Gang Architects, include a washer and dryer in every unit, private balconies, stainless steel appliances and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Residents will be able to enjoy a rooftop terrace, fitness center, study room with Wi-Fi and charging stations and a resident lounge with an attached coffee bar in the 15-story building. Underground parking will also be available for the building’s residents.

The list for the 34 affordable units is now closed. They are renting in the $c 600+ range plus utilities to income-qualified.

The project will also have a Whole Foods, a Marshalls, and a Michaels (Crafts) expected to open by the 2nd quarter of 201

 

City Hyde Park /Village Center redevelopment plans rolled-out at July 14 2008 TIF meeting- and as revised approved by the city in late 2010. See below. Village Foods owner sues and loses. Approvals going ahead fast incl. Chicago Plan Commission Aug. 19, 2010. Whole foods signed lease May 2011.

RDA was approved in January 2014. Demolition of the former shopping center began in December 2013.
the main controvery now is decision of Antheus to demolish 3 graystones on Harper Ave. to make room for parking and turning trucks. Many think Antheus should have restored the graystones as originally planned.

 

SEPTEMBER 11 2012 THE COMMUNITY PLAN COMMISSION APPROVED THE SEPARATION OF CITY HYDE PARK INTO A SEPARATE TIF. (THIS REQUIRES AN ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION ONLY.) THE ASSESSING FIRM, JOHNSON RESEARCH SAID 51ST MEETS 6 OF 13 QUALIFICATIONS TO BE A TIF (3 ARE NEEDED). IT WILL IN FACT START A NEW 23 YEAR PERIOD AS CONFIRMED AT THE OCT. 11 PUBLIC MEETING. City Council passed the ordinance in November 2012.

Hyde Park Village- approved by city including splitting the site off into its own TIF. In July 2013, the state (Ill Dept. Commerce and Econ. Opp.) approved to include the site in Enterprise Zone 6, which provides eligibility for many tax exemptions during construction. Next steps are issuance of the building permits and securing the last pieces of financing, after which construction will start. Completion is still expected by late 2015.

January 30 2013 TIF meeting, City Hyde Park was discussed and two important votes taken. In March of 2013, the city Committee on Finance heard the request for addition of the site to Enterprise Zone 6. Enterprise Zones grant tax incentives (mainly sales taxes for construction supplies and partial utilities and certain income tax exemptions and deductions and relax regulations for developers). Passed in 1982, it was intended for "depressed" areas.

City Hyde Park- After a brief presentation by Peter Cassel (earliest start is fall of 2013 with 2 , the Council voted to give a letter of recommendation and support to the Alderman to committing up to $11 million in funds over remaining years of the new 51st St. TIF to in part fill the funding gap for City Hyde Park.
Also approved was to endorse stretching the boundaries of Enterprise Zone #6 down Lake Park Ave. and include the City Hyde Park site in the zone. Such involves availability of Illinois tax exemptions.
The remainder of the Gap in City Hyde Park Financing will be filled from New Business Tax Incentives and equity.

Traffic changes under consideration with CDOT:
Add a left turn signal to northbound Lake Park at E. Hyde Park Blvd.
To prevent the latter intersection from changing from a "B" to an "F", add a signal light at the site entry-exit on Lake Park at the se corner just north of the BP station. (CDOT is proposing also a signal at 52nd St.)
These matters will be discussed at the Planning and Development Committee meeting mentioned above.
Harper Street opening (ongoing)

The next discussion will be of traffic/Lake Park Ave. at a meeting of the Planning and Development Committee.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE OCTOBER 11 2012 53RD (AND 51ST) TIF ADVISORY COUNCIL MEETING

Ald. Burns told the meeting he supports the revised proposal as approved by the Chicago Community Development Council and the TIF council.

Peter Cassel, lead spokesman for the team, said that financing and other considerations require the project be done in one phase, with the tall building moved near the Lake Park-E. Hyde Park corner, but still physical option to build and another tower at the northwest. Thus 13 stories of residential above the retail base at this corner rather than 10 and rather than c23 at the now discontinued northeast tower. Preference in design and some public comment was also have the various traffic and density on the auto-centric Lake Park and leave Harper Ave. small retail and (between the site and Harper Court) residential, and Lake Park will have the best views. An importatn attactor will also be that is designed by Jeanne Gang's firm, which inter alia was featured in an exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Also as a consequence of financial and single-phase re figuration, the tower, though 3 stories higher than that tower was to have been, will have smaller (less bedroom units) but still the 182 units planned, of which 38 will be affordable (rent that can be afforded by those earning as low as 60% of metro region median income), and throughout with A and B accessibility. The development will still have 120,000 sf retail (a bit more spread out) and on two floors and 350 parking spaces. (There was some concern that the downsizing of apartments leaves this project not contributing rental spaces for large families, who mainly have to buy rather than rent in HPK- Cassel felt this project would make no difference in that). A model of the project and retail is on display in an Art Institute exhibit fall 2012. This tower is far from the highest in the vicinity. There will be buyable, deedable parking. Touted was 200 or so construction jobs, of which 50%+ must be Chicago, and they are committed to high MWB jobs and enterprises. About 100 retail jobs will result. The enticing of Whole Foods was called a game changer that will bring more options in even if it is pricey, and they are optimistic about bringing in apparel and housegoods options. They feel they are at least providing complete accessory parking (for all needs of the development), not park-and-ride, and there will be retail validated parking. It will be Silver LEED rated including gardens throughout the roofs (to go Golden or Platform added too much cost)

Cassel explained that for 182 units, 12,000 sf retail and 350 parking spaces (underground), the original financing was $145M cost, $100M being hardcost and was to be in two phases. Antheus equity would be $22M, $88M loan, c$15M federal new market credits- to which was added need for $15 from the TIF. Financiers said the $15 was not feasible at least from the old TIF and wanted a single phase, and there was a community call for community benefits.

In the re-thought project, there will be a single, still angularity designed, 16 story (13 residential) tower (187 ft high) near the northeast corner but set back some from the sidewalk-- in fact so set back all around the development. Income will be lost from fewer and smaller apartments, but the cost of additional floors of the eliminated second tower will be saved. The ground floor will be mostly Whole Foods except along Harper Ave. The second floor will have apparel and house goods stores.

The total cost is now $114 rather than $145.
Antheus supplies $8.5 M in non-cash equity plus $26.5 M in cash equity-- value $35 M. (It was not clear to this writer whether the previously stated $22 M was cash or total equity, and so whether Antheus's input is going up or down.)
$80 for loans, credits and TIF-- $6 M in construction loans, $11 M in new market tax credits, and 11.3 from the TIF.
The TIF total generated value will be c$14 M in 2012 dollars of which contribution to the Project will now be $11.3 rather than $15. $2.5 million is expected to be available for non-project community beefits. That is, the development will pay out from minimum of $1.3 M to $1.8M annual taxes (apart from the $100,000 in non-tif real estate taxes that stay c. the same); annualized value in incremental taxes is $1.4. This will leave a total for community improvements of $2.4 during the life of the TIF for school,s infrastructure, etc. This will become gradually available on a rising scale., averaging 300, 400,000 a year [which the 53rd St. TIF does not have left.] The TIF can decide whether to use this as it comes into the fund or to borrow against it for one or more improvements.

The timetable is pushed back a bit- Agreements etc. is being worked out now, things physically start in the first quarter of 2013, completion of financing and city agreements in the first half, build up in the second quarter, shel done and being turned over and leased by fall 2014, and being occupied early 2015 into 2016.

 



July 9, 2012 the 53rd St. TIF heard presentation on City Hyde Park from Silliman Group (Antheus Capital) and report of process already begun to split the two pins (and part of Harper Ave.) of the proposed development at 51st and Lake Park into a separate, new tax increment district ("51st-Lake Park TIF") of 23 years duration to subsidize the project. The city has already begun the process with approval of Ald. Will Burns as an administrative action, and the TIF council (which will oversee the new TIF) voted its approval. Cassel stressed that the TIF change is only in process and only approved in principle- THE CITY WOULD BRING NUMBERS AND ITS RECOMMENDATION TO THE SEPTEMBER TIF MEETING (MEETING WAS CANCELLED DUE TO THE SCHOOL STRIKE). Reasoning given previously included that Antheus could not get as high a retail rent as they had hoped for. It also appears that banks and other backers want as much public backing for projects as possible before they issue construction loans.
This development will include a mix of market rate and 20% (38) affordable units (indistinguishable and dispersed in the project) as confirmed at the July 9 meeting as well as two retail buildings and enclosed underground parking. Coalition for Equitable Community Development praised Antheus for planning there the first affordable units in Hyde Park in many years. Antheus did not commit to universal accessibility.
(53rd and proposed 51st TIFs, Harper Court and Hyatt Hyde Park (Smart/Olympia Hotels) and City Hyde Park subsidy are very hot with a segment of the community and some outside groups. Occupy spin off demonstrations are planned for Harper and Hyatt and various labor and money-to-schools only groups are making the rounds with informationals about all three. Hyde Park Herald editorial asked for examination of ability of the tifs to come up with the public benefits on which the community had originally be sold on tifs, and a letter questioned developers' commitment and care for this neighborhood.)

December 2011- Original House of Pancakes opts to leave Village Center and move to a Lake Pointe Shopping Center building, 1358 E. 47th St. (Lake Park corner building), freeing the Center more for redevelopment.

Lease signed by Antheus to bring Whole Foods to Village Center development (tent. starting construction late 2012, opening in 2014.) The store will have 30,000 square feet, 125 employees, and be their 18th store in the metro area.

Read/print in pdf.

Press Release - 5.4.11

Antheus Capital is delighted to announce that Whole Foods has signed a lease to serve
as the anchor tenant in our redevelopment of the shopping center in the south west
corner of 51st and Lake Park in the Hyde Park community. This lease represents a
powerful endorsement of Hyde Park by the world’s leading natural and organic foods
supermarket.

Much work remains to bring this project to fruition but we are gratified by this
milestone and appreciative of the significant time and effort invested by former
Alderman Preckwinkle and her successors, Alderman Newsome and Alderman Burns, in
making this possible. We also acknowledge and appreciate Alderman Leslie
Hairston's leadership in improving Hyde Park.

The mixed-use project is designed by Jeanne Gang and Studio Gang Architects
and includes 179 residential units, 110,000 square feet of retail and office space and
two levels of underground parking. Chicago City Council approved the Planned
Development in the fall of 2010. The stores and residences are expected to open in
2014.

Antheus Capital is a New Jersey-based real estate investment and development firm
with investments primarily in Chicago and Kansas City.

Peter Cassel

March 8, 2010, Antheus/Silliman Group presented an update at the TIF meeting. The most significant change was that parking will now be entirely under ground, with entry/egress to the retail parking on Lake Park and for residential from Harper. Trucks will enter on Harper and exit on Lake Park. It appears there will be a mix of rental and condo (the later being in the tower on the nw corner. These will include a proportion of affordable-- it's in a PUD and TIF and Ald. Preckwinkle has been requiring 15% in projects to get her approval. Also being clarified is whether any part of the site will be west of Harper. A question was raised about a passerole over Lake Park to the Metra station-- reply was that the city would not approve.

From the Minutes: Update on 51st and Lake Park development, Village Center: Peter Cassel, Silliman Group, presented a slide show of proposed development for update. The project is ready to be submitted to th Planning department for review. To summarize the project, it is on a 2.5 acre parcel of land, 100k sq ft of commercial development, 384 sq ft of residential development, up to 179 units of one- to four-bedrooms, and over 380 to 400 parking spaces.

A short Q/A followed (Council Members questions are initialed and bolded):

(Q). How does now development mix with current property styles already there? (RS)
(A). The architecture should blend in. There are no preservation issues, and density is at the corner of the block.

(Q). Please review retail on Lake Park (AM)
(A). A prior slide showing retail was reviewed

(Q). Is the site plan available? (MC)
(A). A prior slide showing the site plan was reviewed.

(Q). The center of development - is is all retail?
(A). 70k sq ft of it is.

(Q). Progress with Village Foods [lawsuit resolution]? Describe phase of building, Will there be an elevated walkway to Metra?
(A). The Village Foods lawsuit has been settled, and the plan can go forward. Construction wil be in a single phase instead of a double one. There will be no walkway to Metra (James Wilson, Chicago).

(Q). When will you return to zoning?
(A). Late Spring, early summer to the Planning Commission.

(Q). The questioner asked multiple questions regarding timeframes for the next steps in the process.
(A). Cassel answers: A couple of months to close with new retailers, three months for construction documents, ne year for the permitting process, 18-24 months to demolition.

(Q). Please comment on style, perhaps Art Deco?
(A). From Chair HM - The north end plays homage to Kenwood [Academy], the south end to the Hyde Park Bank building.

(Q). Will retail be functional during construction
(A). Building One along Harper and the parking lot will be built first. The timeline is five years out.

(Q). Village Foods?
(A). We don't know what their future business plans are.

Herald report, March 10, 2010. By Sam Cholke.

The Silliman Group presented a slightly modified version of the development for the Village shopping center at the March 8 [TIF meeting]. The two-and-a-half acre development that encompasses much of the block south of East Hyde park Boulevard and South Lake Park Avenue will move all onsite parking below the building. About 400 parking spaces will be housed in a two-level underground garage after potential tenants requested improved accessibility, according to Peter Cassel, director of community development for the Silliman Group.

The project still includes a 10-story residential and retail building on Lake Park Avenue, and a lower strip of retail that stretches down East Hyde Park Boulevard, culminating in a residential tower on the corner of Hyde Park Boulevard and South Harper Avenue. Smaller retailers will be housed along the Harper Avenue side of the development, according to Cassel.

Unlike when first presented in Fall 2008, the project will now proceed as a single phase instead of two. "If part were not to be built... the narrower tower would not be built," Cassel said.

The Chicago Plan Commission will likely reviews the plans in late spring from final approval before Silliman begins seeking zoning changes and the city permits, according to Cassel. It will likely be longer than two years before any of the existing buildings at Village Center are demolished and roughly five years before the new development opens, he said.

______________________

There is serious possibility of redevelopment of Lake Village Shopping Center (Antheus owned) at 51st and Lake Park All these are owned by Antheus Capital and managed by MAC Properties (development arm Silliman LLC). Village Foods and Hyde Park Realty said (for now) they have long-term leases and won't leave (resolved with the first, poss. other after Antheus won a suit). A first plan by Antheus was s pulled from the March 2007 TIF agenda. Some months later, a new plan emerged, design by Jeanne Gang. Praise was high at the TIF meeting and in the ensuing review by the open planning and development subcommittee.

At the start of 2010, Antheus/Silliman was talking to potential tenants and preparing, hoping to file papers with the city as early as spring. From this and some other things, one surmises that an understanding has been reached or is on the horizon with Village Foods.

August 19 2010 the Chicago Plan Commission approved the project (next: Zoning Committee) according to Chicago Talks.

Highlights: 179 condos in 2 buildings- 22 stories and 9 stories, 1-3 bedroom. Affordable component 15% set by market and income (according to quote of principals). There will also be 2-level retail, to be as much as possible a mixture of sizes and types, if possible filling in what is missing in Hyde Park, and said to have accessible, user-friendly features incl. for seniors. 400 parking spaces. A drive through delivery passage for Village Foods during the expected phased construction. Cost is $100m. Antheus and Silliman stressed the number of jobs. Drawings are expected to take 2 months and construction to start in 18-24 months.

 

Village Center update and Antheus' version of Hyde Park future. December 23 2011

February 1, Wednesday, 6:45 pm. Presentation by Studio Gang occurred at Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell, under the TIF Planning and Development Committee. Next is the March 12 TIF meeting, 7 pm at Kenwood Academy.

January 9, 2011 TIF meeting: Antheus Capital's development arm Silliman Group , owner of Village Center, announced it would seek transfer of up to $10 million of any future increment on its Village Center (north of Harper Court) property, once redevelopment of Village Center is complete. Antheus says the cost of redevelopment rose from $100 M when it bought the property in 2005 to to $145 M estimated today. This would be $10 M or 40% of a $25 M shortfall it says it has in assembling financing. Silliman rep. Peter Cassel said they are seeking other tax subsidies as well. Cassel thought such help will not conflict with TIF priorities or overtop commitments, and that this business has to be of note now because any such increment would have to pass through the TIF's books. (Perhaps they expect the value of VC to be enhanced at a faster pace because of Harper Court redevelopment?) Cassel also announced that the housing, to be all rental, will be more dense than planned because they could not receive as much value as planned from their retail. (If any TIF funding is used, 20% of units will have to be affordable-- whether also especially accessible needs to be researched.
The Advisory Council asked its Planning and Development Subcommittee to entertain a presentation by the architect Studio Gang on the project February 1, 6:45 pm at Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell.

Many at the TIF planning and development committee review were concerned about apparent lack of "public purpose" for the spending (vs. Harper Court infrastructure) and of "but for it couldn't happen." (Antheus said it could not get a loan higher than $88 million.) Coalition for Equitable Community Development was pleased that the project would include the first significant new affordable housing- or large housing and retail development period-- in Hyde Park in 40 years and sought a commitment that that would be on site and that Harper Avenue properties would be considered for more affordable and local retail- these would make it easier for CECD to strongly support. HPKCC declined to take a take a position on the subsidy, and the same concerns were expressed as elsewhere, balanced by the affordable housing component and that it's hard to say no when when subsidy was given to Harper whether the parking was really an extra public benefit or not.

Antheus has a strong relation with highly respected green innovator Jeanne Gang (Studio Gang). Her design is for two quite different towers (including in height) on a 3-story retail base (parking mostly underneath) that engages three streets in a pedestrian friendly manner and can be seen as a gateway from roadways and Metra tracks. Surfaces are undulating in an off-set grid, friendly to balconies, long seeps without column breaks, and corner views. Antheus things there is a large pent-up demand. Some people don't want increase density or are concerned about local, more marginal but distinctive businesses being driven out by such large developments- an loss of parking during construction. But reaction to plans has been favorable, although now countered by concern over the subsidy.

As required in TIF districts, 20 percent of housing will be set aside at prices/rents affordable to persons earning up to 60% of the median 6-county household income (c. 42,000 for a family of four.)

A letter in the Herald January 18 objected to funding saying Antheus is incredibly rich and mistreated the Regents Park employees.

Comments in the March 1 Chicago Weekly, including by leaders of HPKCC

Jane Ciacci, President, HPKCC: "Many of us were startled by Antheus' recent request for TIF funds when they had said earlier that they would not.... Yes, construction costs have risen, but Antheus appears to be a very profitable company." Ciacci agrees that 20% set aside, to be rent at prices affordable to families earning under 60% of the area medium income, if there is a subsidy is enticement to support the subsidy: "In Hyde Park-Kenwood the gap between demand for and supply of affordable housing for working people, the people who keep our neighborhoods going, is larger than in other parts of the city, and this is something that desperately needs to be addressed." However, Ciacci and HPKCC Development Committee chair Jay Ammerman, are skeptical that City Hyde Park is the kind of project deserving of TIF (taxpayer!) subsidy. Ammerman, on reactions at the Feb. 1 TIF committee review, said feelings about the project had been positive until the request. Part of the concern is that TIF funds are tight now and if it all goes to developers, there is nothing or little left for other public purposes: "A number of attendees expressed concerns that TIF funds should be reserved for projects that would benefit other community priorities, like schools or small businesses, that were being displaced by large development projects. Ammerman said that in any case, Antheus will continue to monitor City Hyde Park progress to ensure that appropriate public interest concerns are addressed." And, as Ciacci said, "It is a coup to have a Jeanne Gang design."

The December 21 2011 Herald announced, in another sign that the Village Center project is at least on the way to moving forward, The Original House of Pancakes is moving out of Village Center to fine new, larger quarters at Lake Park and 47th (1358 E.) in January rather than close while the new Center, "City Hyde Park" to be constructed with space for OHP.

Facts on Whole Foods Hyde Park:

Anchors a 150 foot residential tower. Opens summer 2014. 125 full and part time employees. Only 1/2 the regular Whole Foods footprint. 188 free parking spaces. Decor befitting Hyde Park. Large fresh and bulk foots sections. Sit-down beer and wine garden. Will be first for humane treatment of animals- 131 criteria. Midwest President is Michael Bashaw.

December 22 2011 Chicago Real Estate Daily (a part of Crains') (article by Bob Craig) announced more on seeking financing for the new "City Hyde Park" and gave PR to Eli Ungar's enthusiasm for the residential-living future of Hyde Park and that it HP will become even more of a draw.


The Englewood, N.J.-based firm aims to follow [the Regents Park] deal with its first development in the South Side neighborhood. Mr. Ungar is seeking financing for City Hyde Park, a proposed $140-million, mixed-use project at Hyde Park Boulevard and Harper Avenue that would include 179 apartments and 120,000 square feet of retail anchored by a Whole Foods store...

Crain's: Are there more acquisitions to be had in Hyde Park for you?

Mr. Ungar: I think there are. We have a significant existing presence and we have lots of work to do already, so we are not aggressively chasing things, but we often get phone calls and we take those phone calls and are certainly open to discussing additional investments that make sense. We looked at, but ultimately did not aggressively pursue, the two buildings that were recently sold in Hyde Park that were part of the Irmco portfolio [both bought by TLC]. We tend to look at everything and we are very selective in what we pursue. ...

"Being a property owner and being a property owner of scale means a significant amount of responsibility from us toward the community, and we take that seriously and we work hard to be an active and contributing member of the community. I think that we have, in general, purchased buildings that are well located but have not been well maintained, and we have made very significant investments to try and bring back individual buildings and in parts of the community that seemed to be heading in their own direction.

"A number of years ago we bought a series of continuous buildings along the corner of 54th and Cottage Grove, which is a neighborhood that had had significant challenges, and we made a very significant investment and took buildings that had historically either been empty or utilized for bad purposes and they are now lovely, highly occupied homes for many families that live and work in the community. It has really become an anchor of west Hyde Park. I think that when viewed broadly much of what we have done has been very helpful. We certainly want to learn from our actions and people's reactions to it and we are committed to remaining a positive part of a wonderful neighborhood."

When we're talking shopping and retail, is there a strong enough population base in Hyde Park to support these stores? Can the area draw outside shoppers with the perceived crime and other issues of the neighborhood?

"I think first of all getting the facts out is critically important. Hyde Park has one of the lowest crime rates and best crime stats in the city and it is and has been and continues to get better each year from that perspective.

"I do think there are a number of significant cultural draws in Hyde Park. The Museum of Science and Industry, many of the things that go along with the university, the theaters and the museums and the lectures that are a daily occurrence in Hyde Park really can be a magnet for people as well as the folks coming for the hospitals or the restaurants. I think that each additional venue that is created, like a hotel, like more exciting restaurants and shopping options, will cause people to come to Hyde Park and I think when they are there they will look around and be pleasantly amazed at how beautiful it is, how vibrant the community is and how broad the various housing options are."

There are two Hyde Parks, the U of C area and then within a few blocks there are some economically challenged areas. What were the demographic drivers that attracted you?

"I think it was the confluence of a couple of factors. One, it was the architectural opportunities that we found in Hyde Park. Another is the lack of new construction, which has now gone on for two decades in the multifamily sector, so there have been limits on new supply, which is an important consideration for apartment investors. A third was a sense that there was a meaningful gap between the extraordinary qualities and features of Hyde Park and how Hyde Park has historically been perceived by investors, and I believe that over time that gap will narrow. So, we were very drawn to the wonderful things that are in Hyde Park, but also confident that over time Hyde Park would be less of a hidden gem and become more of an eagerly embraced housing choice for a lot of folks in Chicago.

Village Center (E. HP Blvd./Lake Park) plans were rolled-out at the July 14 2008 TIF meeting.
Underwent subsequent revision and were largely settled by the end of 2011, with construction expected to start in late 2013 provided certain benchmarks were met.
In July 2012 a process was underway and initial approval steps taken to separate out the two pins into a new 51st-Lake Park TIF- see details in the City Hyde Park page.

Antheus Properties' Eli Ungar and team including Studio Gang Architects and Graham Grady of Bell, Boyd and Lloyd presented a large redevelopment plan for the shopping center, consisting of a mid rise of mixed retail (national and local) and residential on Lake Park, extending along Hyde Park 4 stories including a glass, open-view (including to view from Metra) passage to a 24 story tower at the northwest corner, and a hidden 519 story lower and third level garage and a line of smaller shops along Harper. Whether the project is done at once depends on willingness of Village Foods to vacate its lease; also on rate and pace of leasing. Ungar expected good luck at enticing several retailer to come to this larger, 2.5 acre site--indeed, retail publications are speculating on growing likelihood of retail redevelopment in Hyde Park. Ungar also addressed to general satisfaction of the meeting the growing community consensus on standards, desires and expectations in a development.

A lawsuit for injunction filed by Village Food's parent, alleging destruction of the business by a two-stage development, was dismissed May 19, 2009.

May 2011: The redevelopment of the Village shopping center at the southwest corner of South Lake Park Avenue and East Hyde Park Boulevard remain in early planning stages. Peter Cassel, director of community development for Antheus, said they are not ready to apply for building permits and several tenants have leases they intend to honor. He said the earliest any work could begin on the site is fall 2012. The plan calls for a residential high-rise and several stories of retail on the property.

 

Whole Foods to enter the mix in 2014, signs in spring 2011 with Antheus for Village Center E. HP and Lake Park.

Read/print in pdf.

Press Release - 5.4.11

Antheus Capital is delighted to announce that Whole Foods has signed a lease to serve
as the anchor tenant in our redevelopment of the shopping center in the south west
corner of 51st and Lake Park in the Hyde Park community. This lease represents a
powerful endorsement of Hyde Park by the world’s leading natural and organic foods
supermarket.

Much work remains to bring this project to fruition but we are gratified by this
milestone and appreciative of the significant time and effort invested by former
Alderman Preckwinkle and her successors, Alderman Newsome and Alderman Burns, in
making this possible. We also acknowledge and appreciate Alderman Leslie
Hairston's leadership in improving Hyde Park.

The mixed-use project is designed by Jeanne Gang and Studio Gang Architects
and includes 179 residential units, 110,000 square feet of retail and office space and
two levels of underground parking. Chicago City Council approved the Planned
Development in the fall of 2010. The stores and residences are expected to open in
2014.

Antheus Capital is a New Jersey-based real estate investment and development firm
with investments primarily in Chicago and Kansas City.

Peter Cassel

Herald, May 11, 2011. By Sam Cholke

Hyde Parkers who have long said they deserve a Whole Foods will get their wish. The Texas-based grocer announced May 4 that it signed a lease with Antheus Capital to open its seventh Chicago store on teh southwest corner of Lake Park Avenue and East Hyde Park Boulevard.

"We are overjoyed to finally bring these high quality foods to the Hyde Park neighborhood," sid Michael Bashaw, Whole Foods Midwest regional president, in a prepared statement. The store, which specializes in natural and organic foods, will open a 30,000-square-foot location in the redeveloped Village shopping center in the fall of 2014. It is the first major retailer to officially sign on to the $125 million project.

the store will be smaller than other Whole Foods locations but is expected to offer a bulk-goods section, a sit-down bar and cooking classrooms, all in a decor that reflects the neighborhood, according to the company. Teh new store will also participate in a broader company initiative that ensures animals were treated humanely before slaughter.

Whole Foods will be the third new grocer to pent in Hyde Park in the last three years. The neighborhood now has abundant options for produce and dry goods, including Treasure Island and Michael's Fresh Market, also on Lake Park Avenue, neighborhood grocer Hyde Park Produce, boutique grocers Zaleski and Horvath and Open Produce and discount grocers Village Foods and One Stop [a bit further off, and SaveALot, also further off]. Whole Foods will replace Village Foods when it opens.

Treasure Island, Whole Food immediate competitor in the neighborhood, did not return calls by Herald press time. Ron Thomas of Hyde Park Produce said there is nothing wrong with a little competition in the neighborhood. "Competition is what America is all about," he said.

Hyde Parkers must buy food somewhere, but Whole Foods said it did not expect to butt heads with existing grocers in the pursuit of customers. "We have learned that we already have a lot of Hyde Park residents shopping at our South Loop location. Thus, they now have less distance to travel. Plus, experience has taught us that we are not necessarily taking from existing competitors, but attracting more people to shop within the area," said Kate Klotz, a spokeswoman in the company's regional office.

The store will move into a development that will likely attract a lot of new residents to Hyde Park. The project, announced in July 2008, wil include a 150-unit residential high-rise at South Harper Avenue and a 29-unit mid-rise along South Sake Park Avenue, connected by a two-story retail space. The first floor will include retail outlets along Lake Park Avenue, Hyde Park Boulevard and Harper Avenue, according to the most recent plans.

The planning for the new development continues to progress slowly, said Peter Cassel, director of community development for Antheus, in a phone interview last week. He said work would not begin during the summer construction season and the architect, Studio Gang Architects, continue to finalize plans before applying for building permits.

The project was originally proposed as condominiums, but the developers are now considering rental apartments. Financing continues to be harder than it was five years ago, but rental is easier than condos, and there is some flexibility with the long planning schedule, said Eli Ungar, head of Antheus Capital.

Ungar said they courted Whole Foods for more than a year, but talks progressed slowly until 90 days ago because the larger retail market was hesitant to expand in a slow economy. "There has been a palpable change in the tone of the conversation we've had with retailers, including Whole Foods," Ungar said, adding that new development projects have reduced the perception of Hyde Park as a risk for retailers. "There isn't the sense of pioneering there may have been five years ago."

Many expected Whole Foods would locate within the redeveloped harper Court shopping center on 53rd Street, and the Sun-Times reported last November that the developers were courting the grocer. The speculation re ignited a desire to see the upscale grocer open its first store on the South Side. "We've been looking to open a store in Hyde Park for quite a while," said Klotz from Whole Foods. "Any and al new store decisions take quite a while to finalize as we have a long list of criteria that we consider when we're looking for new sites. Until we find the right mix of criteria for a new store, we continue searching; it has to be the right fit fo us."

The store is expected to employ 125 full- and part-time employees when it opens in 2014.

 

At an update March 8, 2010, Antheus/Silliman reported on some modifications including parking underground and that the project is intended for one phase, starting in about 3 years. Paperwork filing is expected to start spring 2010.

August 19 2010 the Chicago Plan Commission approved the project (next: Zoning Committee) according to Chicago Talks. and an update from an Antheus representative, who also said that the affordable component is made difficult by shifting city rules-- the purpose shouldn't be to give a developer a wink and someone a bargain at the developer's expense so than sell high later.

Highlights: 179 condos in 2 buildings- 22 stories and 9 stories, 1-3 bedroom. Affordable component 15% set by market and income (according to quote of principals). There will also be 2-level retail, to be as much as possible a mixture of sizes and types, if possible filling in what is missing in Hyde Park, and said to have accessible, user-friendly features incl. for seniors. 400 parking spaces. A drive through delivery passage for Village Foods during the expected phased construction. Cost is $100m. Antheus and Silliman stressed the number of jobs. Drawings are expected to take 2 months and construction to start in 18-24 months.

July 16 2008 Herald Report, Antheus reveals plans for Village Center site- Studio Gang design calls for four levels of shops, 170 condos. By Kate Hawley

Developer Eli Ungar, head of Antheus Capital, unveiled plans Monday to redevelop the aging Village Center mall into a glassy modern complex that will house commercial space, condominiums and parking.

Creating vibrant street space after dark is one of the project's main goals, Ungar told a crowd of about 100 at a meeting of the 53d Street TIF Advisory Council, held at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave. "If everything that happens at this development closes after 5 o'clock, we will have failed," he said.

Margaret Cavanagh, an architect with Studio Gang Architects, laid out the details of the proposed building, a steel-and-glass structure with masonry accents that rises to 24 stories at its tallest point. The four-story base will contain about 116,000 square-feet of commercial space, including a glass-walled storefront that will be visible from the Metra tracks across Lake Park Avenue.

Unlike the existing Village Center mall, 1525 E. Hyde Park Blvd., which is fronted by a surface parking lot, the new building will line Harper Avenue, Hyde Park Boulevard and Lake Park Avenue with shops. Parking in the new building will be masked, with 519 parking spaces tucked out of sight in one underground parking level and on the third and fourth floors. Condos will occupy a 24-story tower that soars upward from the northwestern corner of the building and a 10-story section--which Cavanagh called "the bar"--running along Lake Park Avenue. The 170 condos will have one to four bedrooms.

Sustainable elements include a green roof and plans to seek LEED certification. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a national environmental rating system set by the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington-based nonprofit.

Reaction from the TIF council members and the assembled crowd was generally positive, although questions arose about the viability of such a large development in the midst of a slump in the housing market. Ungar expressed confidence that "the numbers work" for the project, in part because the 2.5-acre parcel, which Antheus bought a little more than two years ago, is a large enough space to attract multiple retailers. Businesses hesitant to foray into Hyde Park on their own are more willing to come s part of a group, he said.

He declined to give specifics about what kind of tenants the company is seeking, but he did say that the popular Original Pancake House, 1517 E Hyde Park Blvd., will be part of the new development, and it will stay open later to bolster the project's nightlife.

The council will ultimately vote on whether or not to approve the project, but first community members will be allowed to comment on the redevelopment through its Planning and Development Committee, to meet at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 18 at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. The council will reconvene in September, said its president, Howard Males.

With local support secured, the developers will seek approval to rezone the land as a Planned Development, said Graham Grady, the zoning attorney for the project. Demolition of the existing buildings would begin at the earliest in December 2009, with groundbreaking tentatively planned for that spring, according to Peter cassel, director of community development for MAC Property Management, which oversees Antheus's more than 70 Hyde Park buildings.

With the exception of village Foods, 1521 E. Hyde Park Blvd., all of the retailers at Village Center have agreed to break their leases in order to make way for the redevelopment, according to Cassel. If Village Foods decides to stay for the duration of its lease, construction will take place in two phases. Otherwise the building will be reconstructed in one phase.

August 18 2008 about 20 met to consider the plan with the TIF Planning and Development Subcommittee, chair Chuck Thurow. After team presentation, there was lots of q and a on such issues as massing, density,scale, store uses, residential types, interaction with street and sidewalk, traffic circulation, and parking. Added detail included ongoing conversation with large grocers to make sure this current function and competition are not lost. If Village Foods stays in the west section for now, only about 3-4 years would go by before that part is developed. The sense was of general approval. Thurow will send notes to those on his email list ahead of his report to the September 8 TIF meeting.

From the Hyde Park Herald, August 17, 2008. TIF council holds Q&A on Village Center. By Kate Hawley

Eli Ungar, head of the development firm Antheus Capital, fielded questions from community members on Monday, Aug. 18, about the company's planned redevelopment of Village Center. The meeting, at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell ave., was meant to give the 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Advisory Council a chance to gather community input before it votes on the Village Center plan at its next meeting, Sept. 8.

The roughly two-dozen people who attended asked questions on subjects ranging rom parking to affordable housing to what kind of businesses might fill th proposed building's 116,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. The tone throughout was collegial, with most people in the crowd seeking details about the plans for Village Center, the aging mall fronted by a parking lot on the southwest corner of Lake Park Avenue and Hyde Park Boulevard.

Architect Margaret Cavanagh of Studio Gang Architects recapped the overview of the project she presented at th most recent TIF council meeting on July 14. The building will comprise three main elements: a four-story base, a ten-story bar that will run run along Lake Park Avenue and a 24-story tower that will rise from the building's northwest corner. Parking -- to include 519 spaces -- will be tucked in back, out of sight.

The modern design uses mostly steel and glass, with dark-colored masonry on the tower and sandy-colored masonry on the bar. A glass-walled retail space visible from the Metra tracks across Lake Park avenue will allow shoppers and bystanders to see through it to a rooftop garden.

Pat Wilcoxen, who heads the Coalition for Equitable Community Development, an affordable housing organization, asked for details on the project's 170 condominiums. Ungar said 15 percent would be set aside as affordable housing and 20 percent would be accessible to people with disabilities. Market-rate pricing on the one-, two-, and three bedroom units hasn't been set yet. "We would love to find a way to make it work in the $350-a-foot range," he said. "Don't know if we can."

Ungar gave few details about retailers under consideration but did say that he envisions a mix of national, regional and local companies in the building. Interest has been strong so far, he reported, saying, "There are some retailer who have expressed an interest in taking the entire first floor." Smaller, boutique retailers would be a good fit along South Harper Avenue, he added. Retailers have shown a willingness to come into Hyde Park as part of a group, Ungar said. And the proposed redevelopment of Harper Court, just around the corner on Harper Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets, and an adjacent city-owned parking lot, have so far proved a draw, he said.

While he will give some consideration to office space, the goal is to fill the building with businesses that will keep it vibrant into the evening hours. Ungar said he's been paying close attention to the 53rd Street Vision Workshops sponsored by the TIF council, in which locals expressed an overwhelming preference for a lively, dense downtown.

Banks - which some in the audience complained are ubiquitous in the neighborhood - will not receive priority. "Hyde Park is not suffering from having too few banking options," Ungar said. "Our goal is not to create more."

All of the current retailers in Village Center have agreed to break their leases except for Village Foods, 1521 E. Hyde Park Blvd., Ungar said. If Village Foods decides to stay for the rest of its lease -- which ends in late 2013 or early 2014 -- Antheus will construct the building in two phases. Otherwise, construction will take place in one phase. Antheus will build a temporary parking lot for Village Foods to accommodate its customers during construction should the grocery store decide to stay for the remainder of its lease, he added.

Ungar expressed confidence that the Village Center plan will work despite a notional slump in the housing market. "It's an admittedly preposterous time to talk about new development," he said. However, he argued, Hyde Park's market is unique, and condos are selling at a good pace at Solstice on the Park, Antheus's eco-friendly tower planned for 56th Street and Cornell Avenue. He declined to say how many units are sold, but said, "Solstice has seen a very strong response so far," in part reflecting pent-up demand for high-end new construction in the neighborhood.

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Sun-Times coverage, October 28, 2008. Zoning Papers filed with city for Village Center

Business-Real Estate. Hyde Park Condos May Replace Plaza. 150-unit project has resident support, needs city OK. By David Roeder and Fran Spielman

A developer has asked city officials for authority to tear down a 1960s shopping plaza in Hyde Park and replace it with high-rise housing built over new stores and offices. The project involves a 2.5-acre parcel at 5101 S. Harper, currently the home of the Village Center shopping mall. the property owner, Antheus Capital LLC, wants to build 150 condominiums atop a parking structure and a commercial base.

Antheus is believed to be the largest property owner in Hyde Park besides the University of Chicago. The site is about a block from the U. of C.-owned Harper Court shopping center, for which the university is soliciting developers' proposals.'

Eli Ungar, Antheus chairman, said the company is well-capitalized and isn't afraid of starting its project in a slow market for home sales. "Hyde Park is different," he said. "It hasn't seen a lot of new construction in the last 20 years."

The proposal groups the condos in a 22-story building and a separate mid-rise, Peter Cassel, Antheus' director of community development, said they will be connected by parking for 519 cars and 116,000 square feet for retailers of offices. The plan is contained in a request for zoning change filed at City Hall. The request starts a hearing process that could lead to a City Council vote.

Antheus turned to the city after its proposal drew generally favorable review from community groups. ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) said she supports the zoning change. George rumsey, president of t he Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, praised the design and said he's confident Ungar can finance it. "He and his architects know how to listen to people and respond," Rumsey said.

The developer hired well-known Chicago architect Jeanne Gang to design the complex. Gang employees sunscreens that the residents can open or close, changing the building's appearance depending on the time of day.

One potential hitch is that a grocery store in the plaza, Village Foods, has refused to be bought out of its lease. Cassel refused to discuss the negotiations with the grocer, but said the project can be built in phases if Village Foods remains.

Antheus is based in New Jersey and concentrates its investments in Hyde Park and Kansas City. It is marketing another new Hyde Park site, a 23-story condo building set for 56th and Cornell. Also, property records show Antheus paid $16 million for the landmark Shoreland Hotel at 5554 S. South Shore Dr. The U. of C. leases it for student housing but could leave the location before the next academic year starts. Cassel said Antheus is examining options for the property.

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Village Foods owner sues Antheus over alleged impact (case dismissed in summer 2009)

ChicagoBusiness (Crain's). By Eddie Baeb, January 5, 2008


Lawsuit seeks to halt planned Hyde Park project
By: Eddie Baeb Jan. 05, 2009

(Crain’s) — The owner of the Village Foods grocery store in Hyde Park has sued to stop a developer’s plans to demolish the Village Center shopping/office complex and build a 24-story residential tower and shopping center there.

The plans, which were detailed in October as part of a zoning amendment request made by New Jersey-based Antheus Capital LLC, would “almost certainly result in the total destruction of plaintiff’s business,” Village Foods’ owner Liberty Foods Corp. alleges in a lawsuit filed Dec. 23 in Cook County Circuit Court.

Liberty Foods contends that the plans for the site at Hyde Park Boulevard and Harper Avenue would violate Village Foods’ lease, which the suit says runs through 2013, because the development would reduce the size of the parking lot to fewer than 70 spaces and restrict motorist access.

The plans for the first phase call for demolishing an adjacent office building at 1523 E. Hyde Park, where Village Foods leases about 3,200 square feet that’s connected to the store and contains the grocery store’s produce and beverage departments, according to the lawsuit. The grocery store’s building, at 1521 E. Hyde Park, would be torn down later.

Antheus principal Eli Ungar declined to comment. The development, which has yet to receive city approval, will be a big challenge for Antheus to deliver given the recession and sharp downturn in the condo and retail markets.

Englewood, N.J.-based Antheus has snapped up dozens of apartment buildings and some retail sites in Hyde Park in recent years, becoming the South Side neighborhood’s second-biggest landlord after the University of Chicago.

Related story: New from Jersey

The firm bought Village Center in fall 2005 and took out a $5-million mortgage on the site, according to property records. In addition to Village Foods, the center also includes the well-known Original House of Pancakes restaurant.

Antheus first unveiled its ambitious plan for Village Center in July to a community group.

Chicago architect Jeanne Gang designed a two-building complex for the site that would have about 150 condominiums along with 116,000 square feet of retail space.

Ms. Gang’s firm, Studio Gang Architects, also designed another proposed condo tower for Antheus that would be built at 56th Street and Cornell Avenue. That 28-story building has received city approval, and Antheus is marketing the building’s 147 units.

The lawsuit against Antheus seeks an injunction to halt the Village Center development.

Don Notaro, a vice-president and assistant secretary for Liberty, which is based in St. Joseph, Mich., declined to comment. The 17,024-square-foot store has been based in the shopping center since 1965, according to the lawsuit.

The company’s attorney in the matter, Michael Weininger of Chicago-based Lupel Weininger LLP, also declined to comment.


Herald January 7, 2008. By Sam Cholke

Village Foods is suing property owner Antheus Capital for violating the terms of its leases and is asking a judge to halt redevelopment at the shopping center. In documents filed with the Circuit Court of cook County on Dec. 23 and obtained by the Herald, Village Foods' parent company, Liberty Foods Corp., claims current redevelopment plans for the shipping center would in effect put the grocery store out of business. Though the main store in 1521 E. Hyde Park Blvd. would not be altered during the terms of the leases, which runs through 2013, the beverage and produce department in the adjoining 1523 E. Hyde Park Blvd., three-story office building would be demolished during the first phases of redevelopment.

Parking at Village Foods would be reduced to 22 spaces during the first phase of redevelopment. The lease guarantees the store a minimum of 70 parking spaces. Village Foods claims that Antheus Capital's redevelopment plan "could, and most likely would, completely destroy the plaintiff's business and interfere with plaintiff's use of the leased premises which it has occupied for more than 25 years," according to document filed with the Circuit Court.

The current redevelopment plan was first presented at a July 14 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing District Advisory Council meeting by Antheus President Eli Ungar. The plan called for a two-phase development that would begin with a mid-rise building along lake Park Avenue and a paring garage where the current parking lot now sits.

Village Foods contends that construction of the first phases buildings would be financially damaging by reducing visibility of the grocery store and its signage from major streets and also limiting access from those streets.

The documents request the courts to grant an injunction halting all redevelopment at the site that violates Village Foods' lease. Peter cassel, director of community development for MAC Properties, the company that manages the property, declined to comment. Representatives from Village Foods parent company, Liberty Foods Corp., did not respond to requests for comment as of Herald press time. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. June 3 with Judge Martin Agran.

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Earlier:

Feelers on redeveloping Village Center at 51st-Lake Park

At the July 14 2008 TIF Advisory Council meeting, Antheus intends to roll out its plans for redevelopment of Village Center Shopping Mall (differences with Ald. Preckwinkle having apparently been resolved). It also bought a very troubled residential building across the street at 5110-14 S. Harper, which it will gut, restore the facade, rehabilitate for 9 rental units.

Peter Cassel, director of community development for MAC Properties, said the intention of the purchase is "eliminating blight." Cassel told the Herald a complete gut rehab will be necessary, but the exterior will be cleaned and restored--"The real crime would be to let it deteriorate so far that it would have to be torn down."

There is serious possibility of redevelopment of Lake Village Shopping Center (Antheus owned) at 51st and Lake Park All these are owned by Antheus Capital and managed by MAC Properties. Village Foods and Hyde Park Realty say (for now) they have long-term leases and won't leave. A plan by Antheus was being considered by Ald. Preckwinkle but was pulled from the March TIF agenda as not ready. Plans revealed in May were thought by some strong, but Alderman Preckwinkle is withholding support, said to be related to concerns about the developer or otherwise not related to the site. Antheus says it must have commitment fairly soon, so the proposal may die. (There was a major electrical explosion in the pancake house, but all businesses are now operating.)

At the July 9 2007. TIF Meeting, this project was briefly mentioned by Ald. Preckwinkle, as reported by Trisha Morse, HPKCC board member:

The Village Foods location development by Antheus reported in the Herald is very preliminary. There has been no community approval, no presentation to the TIF. There are "other things to address with this developer" before there can be any talk about the Village Foods project, so it's long way away.

As of July 2007, according to the Herald, Antheus was thinking of a mixed development that in phase one uses all the vacant space, leaving for later development present buildings with long term leases including the Village Foods grocery store, Hyde Park Mortgage Co., Original House of Pancakes.

According to the Herald, Antheus Capital has hired Baum Realty Group to consult and market with prospective uses of a futuristic 22,800 sf retail section of a c. 12 or more story building that would also have c156 condos, a 23,800 sf garage, and a green roof space.

Three major leaseholders would be worked around for the l-shaped building- Village Foods, Original House of Pancakes, and Hyde Park Mortgage (which is moving to its lower level and design the upper section). HP Mortgage told the Herald its refusal is based on low offer and its plans to manage its space in its interest through a long-term lease.

Antheus' Eli Ungar is reported in the July 4 2007 Herald as saying he is waiting for Ald. Preckwinkle to green light the project. Preckwinkle is reported in the article as saying the the project has to be presented to TIF committees and the public as well as completing "other duties." "[It] can't start because they have other work that needs to be done." She said these have nothing to do with the Village Center project.

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Coverage

Herald, October 18, 2006. By Erin Meyer, continued:

Since reporting last week that Village Center may be headed for redevelopment, the Herald has received statements from two tenants regarding their future in the 41-year-old shopping center. Officials from Hyde Park Mortgage Company, 1509 E. Hyde Park Blvd., and Village Foods, 1521 E. Hyde Park Blvd., both indicated that their leases are long-term. Neither have any intention of moving.

"There has been a supermarket at Village Center continuously since the center was built in 1965. We have had the privilege of serving the Hyde Park community at this location for the past 23 years," said Don Notaro, vice president of Village Foods. "Our current lease affords us the opportunity to continue to provide our customers with the highest quality, lowest priced supermarket products in Hyde Park for many years to come and at the same time provide employment for 60 people. We do not know what the future holds for the center, but Village Foods intends to be a part of that future."

William Harris, president of Hyde Park Mortgage Company, said, "I have a long-term lease. I love my space and I plan on being here for a very long time to come. I have been here for the last seven years and I plan on being here for the next decade until I retire."

The news that Village Center may be in play came early last week when two unrelated sources said that the center's management company, MAC Property Management, LLC, did not want to fill vacant retail or commercial space. A real estate broker working to find new tenants for Village Center and a company that recently backed out of a lease for the old Burger King space said MAC plans to redevelop Village Center.

The New-Jersey-based company took over Village Center earlier in the year when it was purchased by another company, 1525 HP, LLC. That company was created by Antheus Capital, LLC for the sole purpose of owning the property. Officials from MAC Property Management and Antheus Capital declined comment.

Situated at the corner of Lake Park Avenue and Hyde Park Boulevard, Village Center offers prime retail and commercial space. Notaro and Harris recognize the location as critical. "My space is is the best space in Hyde Park in terms of visibility," Harris said. The mortgage company leases 3,500 square feet but does not utilize all of the space. "I am looking forward to adding another business within my space soon," Harris said....

[Other businesses in the Center include Original House of Pancakes, U of C Dialysis Center, and Looking Glass Hair Salon.' Top

 

Herald, May 30, 2007. By Nykeya Woods

A mixed-use building may be in the works for Village Center at 51st Street and Lake Park Avenue. Chuck Thurow, member of 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing Advisory Council, said that Antheus Capital wants to create a contemporary multi-story building that stretches to the street, on what is now the center's parking lot.

The building will not have "the classic parking in front of the mall look," Thurow said. Thurow, who heads up the TIF's Planning and Development Committee, said he has met with Wicker Park-based Studio Gang Architects to talk about design options. Preliminary drafts have retail stores on the bottom floor with residential condominiums above and internal parking, Thurow said.

"I would love to see 51st street become much more of a commercial, interesting, walkable area. It would be a huge advantage to the Hyde Park Art Center because all of our visitors quite often want to walk out and walk to a restaurant and find something interesting to do," said Thurow, who is also the Hyde Park art Center's executive director.

Eli Ungar, investor for New Jersey-based Antheus Capital, said that he has talked to Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) and others in the community and is taking into account recommendations about the design. "We are working diligently to arrive at a design that reflects the interests of the community," Ungar said.

The building that houses the University of Chicago Dialysis Center and former Burger King as well as the current parking lot are in the footprint of the new building. The fate of the western half of the shopping center, which is hoe to the Original House of Pancakes, Lookingglass Salon, Hyde Park Mortgage and Village Foods, all of which have long-term leases, is uncertain. .. Top

Herald, July 4, 2007. By Yvette Presberry

[Ald. Preckwinkle commented at the July 9 TIF meeting that plans are way to preliminary for the tenor of this article, it hasn't come to the TIF yet, and the owner has lots of duties to take care of before she will bring the project before the community.]

Village Center, 1525 E. Hyde Park Blvd., may change into a large-scale mixed-use development. This could become a reality within 10 years. New Jersey-based Antheus Capita hired chicago-based Baum Realty Group to talk to prospective retailers for its proposed multi-level building at Village center. The property, which Antheus says could stand at least 12 stories high, will be built in two phases.

According to documents obtained by the Herald, the property will include 156 condominiums, a 23,800-square-foot parking garage, a green space on the third level above the garage an 22,800 square feet of retail space in an "L" shop on Lake Park Avenue and East Hyde Park Boulevard.

Antheus real estate investor Eli Ungar said that the brochure shown to potential retailers is just for use in preliminary discussions with potential retailers. Renderings for the development show that the mix-use property will be built round the Village Foods, 1521 E. Hyde Park Blvd., the Original Pancake House, 1517 E. Hyde Park Blvd., and Hyde Park Mortgage Co., 1509 E. Hyde Park Blvd. These three retailers reportedly refused to break their leases earl to allow Antheus to conduct their development in one phase.

"We tried, unsuccessfully, to buy our way out of those leases but were unable to reach an agreement with the remaining retailers," Ungar said.

William Harris, president of Hyde Park Mortgage Company, said that nothing has been offered to him. He said his company bas been at its address since 1999, and his lease ends in 2015. He plans to switch the location of his mortgage company to the lower level of the building, and place a different company on the second level where his mortgage company currently sits. He declined to say what type of company will move in, but said it would be placed within 120 days. "That's why I signed a long-term lease," Harris said. "I'm not against progress. If you want to do that [and develop the property], pay me."

...Ungar said that Antheus is waiting for Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) to green light the project before beginning development. He did not have a set date for when construction or groundbreaking will begin, but mentioned the second phase would occur after the leases of the pancake restaurant, mortgage company and Village Foods ended.

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) said that before Antheus can build anything, the company has to present its idea to the 53d Street TIF ..Advisory Council for approval, a TIF working group and then the public. According to Preckwinkle, Antheus has other duties to complete."[The development] can't start because they have other work that needs to be done," Preckwinkle said. She declined to say what the duties were, but said it did not have anything to do with the Village Center redevelopment.

Carl Pickerill comments on the design mockup with the previous article, "Glass and steel not appropriate."

July 18, 2007

It is good to hear that such an expansive development is planned for the corner of Hyde Park and Lake Park boulevards to replace the concrete wasteland of a parking lot that sits there now. I wanted to know if the Herald has done any research as to what sat on the spot before.

To the best of my knowledge, the old Hyde Park Hotel, an elegant 10-story building sat on that very corner, but I am not quite sure. If so, might we as Hyde Park residents demand more from a developer than the simple glass and steel retail-residential center we saw on the front page of your paper last week. Perhaps something like a modified version of the old hotel that combines the parking-residential-retail-green space features that the developer wants. I hope to see more discussion on this in the future. Thanks.

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Latest: The project is still challenged by the economy, and by mixed signals from the city, which has suggested no parking to make it truly a "transit oriented development."

 

The saga continues- Antheus buys Williams suite, under contract for 53rd-Cornell lot

Antheus bought in fall 2010 a fair number of residential units of now-deceased property owner Don Williams in west Hyde Park. Planned at present is deferred maintenance and maintenance of standards and pricing typical of west Hyde Park. Ungar acknowledged some shift in gravity north and westward for Antheus holdings.

Late November 2010, Antheus entered a contract to buy the L3 development land at the nw corner of 53rd and Cornell. There will likely be a new plan. According to the Herald of November 24 (Alicia Barney), Peter Cassel said the transaction should be complete by the end of the year. Cassel is quoted, "We think it's a very important corner for the neighborhood. We're very excited about what's happening to the west of the Metra tracks in the Harper Court redevelopment. We're deeply invested in East Hyde Park, and we believe that this parcel can help be a link between East Hyde Park and Harper Court redevelopment. Cassel told the Herald plans are very different from L-3's high rise plan and they are hiring architects and planners. The key point is to develop something there. They will begin a conversation with the community soon after completion of the purchase.

 

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Antheus Capital buys Shoreland

Background: Shoreland page. Latest below.
Document from Antheus/MAC Properties, HISTORIC AND MODERN HYDE PARK HIGH RISE..... (showing that few such provide much parking)
(Questions about this document should be addressed to Danielle Meltzer Cassel at D_CASSEL@vedderprice.com.)
To Moves forward to city review.

Antheus received approval from City Council for its changes to Planned Development and landmark approval from City Council (September 8 2010). Interior demo work started in spring 2011 but will be slow due to underground excavation. Buildout will start in 2012 and last up to two years. Demo was still underway in early 2012.

Antheus Capital has bought the Shoreland at 5454 So. Sh. Dr. and has a new plan for renovation (UC dorm has already left.), but it will be for rental with restoration of the historic parts. Antheus will need a change in the PUD to effect its plans (incl. from City Council) and has held a series of stakeholder and community meetings on the same. Nearest neighbors, particularly 5490 have serious problems with adequacy of the parking provision. Otherwise there appears to be enthusiastic support. A lively community meeting was held September 30, 2009 with Alderman Hairston present and answering questions directed to her or making clarification. Presentation and commentary were by Eli Ungar, a principal of Antheus Capital and subsidiaries, Danielle Cassel Vedder Price, Peter Cassel Community Director for Antheus and subsidiaries, and Lynn-Mason. Principal Eli Ungar committed to seeking the 220 or so maximum spaces rather than the 100 city-sized spaces that could be easily incorporated. While closest neighbors expressed doubts on sufficiency of parking or use of the alley for moving cars, most became increasingly enthusiastic or supportive as the evening moved on, saying either that the developer was doing as much for parking as it could reasonably be expected to do or that having no parking problem in an area was not necessarily sign of a healthy area, and supporting the balance of having more people (partly to support businesses and enlivenment and people on the street at night) without the larger numbers (and cars) of previous uses, preserving and restoring gorgeous places that could have public use and amenities, respecting the character of East Hyde Park and the building, or being by far the best that could be expected for a long time. Ald. Hairston reiterated that the project is dependent on her support, and that on community support and satisfaction. Still, although the alderman sent her letter of approval so things can get going, much remains undecided.

Among those endorsing were South East Chicago Commission. The HPKCC Development Committee had not finished review but praised open process, preservation, careful and considerate planning, and maximizing parking. On October 1l, HPKCC board endorse the neighborhood and preservation objectives and community involvement that this project promotes. Charlotte Des Jardins strongly supported the project at the meeting and in a letter to the Herald.

A secondary outcome on September 30 was general acknowledgement of the parking issues in East Hyde Park and a new resolve to take another look, including Antheus interest in helping fund study of added facilities in the lot at/south of 55th. See below for Herald report on the Sept. 30 meeting.

The next weekend, UC students and nonprofits were allowed to take remaining furniture from the Shoreland.

June 21, 2010 a meeting to advance the project was called for 6:30 pm at Montgomery Place.

Details were shared at a public meeting June 21, where support was general. HPKCC President Jay Ammerman reiterated HPKCC support. June 30 2010 Herald. Daschell M. Phillips reported on the June 21 meeting and stressed that while the developer detailed its plans, attendees (who filled Montgomery Place) wanted the details on the parking. Apartment numbers are 332 market rate of about 800 to 1,000 sq. ft, mostly 1 and 2 bedroom, a few studio or 3 bedroom. It's going to the Landmark and Plan commissions late June and July, with completion date of early 2012.

Herald, June 16, 2010
Poised to begin winding through the city departments that will oversee their project to rehabilitate the historic Shoreland Hotel property, agents of Antheus Capital met with the Herald last week to share the details of their progress that will be the subject of an upcoming community meeting.

Referring to their appointments with city agencies, Antheus attorney Danielle Cassel warned that "it could slip a month -- it could slip months," but laid out, with husband and Antheus Capital Director of Community Development Peter Cassel, the planned timeline for city review of their plans.

First step is the city's Landmark's Commission -- a step needed because of tax credits sought for the project, which will restore both external and internal parts of the building, built in 1926 by Harry Fawcett, one of many hotels built during that period as Hyde Park developed a reputation as a world-class resort area, one, in fact, that eventually drew amelia Earhart and Elvis Presley.

"They're really excited to landmark it," Peter Cassel said of the commission. That first presentation is scheduled for July 1. A presentation before the plan commission is then scheduled for July 15.

For years, the University of Chicago used the former resort hotel as dormitories. the property changed hands in recent years as developers struggle to restore the property to its original glory. Most recently, Antheus, as part of a portfolio of roughly 75 Hyde properties, acquired the Shoreland in August of 2006.

Landmarking is planned not only for the building's facade but also for the front lobby and the storied Crystal Ballroom, the most well-preserved and grandest of the property's interiors. Other interior spaces were considered too deteriorated by the commission to be landmarked, Peter Cassel said.

Remarkably, the company has found a way of adding parking spaces to the project -- a source of consternation for nearby neighbors. a plan that originally provided 101 self-parking spaces has now expanded to 157 spaces. The main source of the additional parking is an excavation project beneath the entranceway, which, while adding parking, is also adding to the expense of the project. While Peter Cassel described the cost of the excavation as "extraordinary," he maintained that the project continues to be an overall moneymaker for the company. Additional changes to the project include an exit ramp in the front of the building for delivery vehicles that will enter at the rear of the building, as they historically have, via the alley there. Parking will also be accessible by an additional front entrance. ...


July 2010 sees the project sail through Landmarks and Plan commissions

Hyde Park Herald, July 21, 2010. Shoreland rehab getting closer to reality. By Sam Cholke

The Chicago Plan Commission unanimously approve the Antheus Capital's plans to redevelop the Shoreland Hotel July 13.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks gave initial approval July 1 to landmarking the former hole at 5454 S. South Shore Drive.

The project will next go before the City Council's Zoning Committee on July 20. [Presumably recommended.]...

"This is a beautiful example of cooperation between a developer and the community to encourage development and increased density while saving a historic building," said Jack Spicer, a member of the Hyde Park Historical Society who testified in favor of the landmark status for the Shoreland.

The City Council must still give its approval before the Shoreland officially becomes a landmark. There are o direct financial benefits from landmark status, said Peter Cassel, director of community development for the Silliman Group. "We're doing this because we believe the Shoreland is a Chicago landmark," he said.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks agreed and voted unanimously to approve the landmark recommendation. "The Shoreland Hotel was a major center of Hyde Park social life during the first half o the 20th Century. During the 50 years that it served as a luxury apartment hotel, the Shoreland hosted such famous (and infamous) individuals as Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Al CApone, Jimmy Hoffa and Elvis Presley," the Commission on Chicago Lan marks says in its analysis of the building. "The originally lavish public spaces on the first and second floors-- including a double-height lobby with mezzanine, opulent public and private dining rooms and a large ballroom -- also served as meeting and event spaces for Hyde Park social circles."

Once landmarked,t eh developer will be obligated to maintain the building's facade, lobby and the Crystal Ballroom, including the room's chandeliers, wood floors and ornate ceilings. "We'll work within the historic context as we find a use for that space," Cassel said. The ballroom will not be used as a banquet hall under an agreement with residents in the neighboring buildings, according to Cassel. Developers are exploring several uses for the space including offices or a gym. The landmark status will not affect the building's other ballroom, which developers want to convert to a restaurant.

"The Shoreland is an excellent example of good planning," said Ruth Eckdish Knack of the American Planning Association.

HPKCC letter to Alderman Hairston, October 15, 2009 (reiterated at June 21 2010 meeting )

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference wishes to voice its support for the principles of development that Antheus Capital presented for the Shoreland Hotel, plans which crucially respect the architectural integrity of Hyde Park. We also support their approach to an open community process in discussing the Shoreland Hotel development with its neighbors and teh community at large.

The Shoreland Hotel deserves historic preservation as the premiere example of Hyde Park's legacy of elegant residential hotels, and it deserves restoration to its former elegance in the hands of a sensitive architect.

Jay N. Ammerman, President

___________________________________________________________________

Update April 15, 2009 at East Hyde Park Committee meeting. Peter Cassel spoke. Options continue to be explored ahead of University vacating June 15 and handover July 31. Whatever option, there is up to 2 years of demolition and preparation needed. MAC is looking for nonprofits that can take the non-historic fixtures including beds and dressers and give/refurbish/recycle for needy individuals or facilities. Goals remain to balance preservation and historic restoration (esp.of public areas) with need to find enough parking--parking change options being limited by the Planned Development ordinance for Shoreland, and the need for the facility to be economically sustainable. One or a combination of options include rental and hotel, but very unlikely condo.

Hyde Park Herald, September 24, 2008 by Kate Hawley.

The old Shoreland Hotel has changed hands again. New Jersey-based Antheus Capital bought the property through 5454 S. Shore Drive LLC on Aug. 20. A warranty deed on file with Cook County puts the price at $16 million.

Antheus isn't yet announcing its plans for the 1920s high-rise, located at 5450 to 5484 S. Shore Drive. "We're currently in a planning process to figure out what's the right next step for that building," said Peter Cassel, director of community affairs for MAC Property Management, which oversees Antheus' more than 70 Hyde Park buildings. "We're exploring all sorts of options." However, Antheus won't carry forward the same condo conversion plan backed by two other developers in recent years, Cassel said.

Kenard Corp. bought the Shoreland from the University for about $5.25 million, with a plan to rehab the interior and build 260 condos with one to three bedrooms and prices topping out at half a million dollars. The plan also called for conversion of the hotel's ballroom into a restaurant.

After the death of Kenard's president, Hal Licterman, R. D. Horner and associates purchased the property in August 2006 for $10 million, with the intention to continue Kenard's condo plan. Both developers leased the property back to the university so it could temporally [continue to] house students there. Antheus has taken over a lease with the university that expires on July 31, 2009. At that time the university will move the roughly 600 students in the building to dorms closer to campus, most of them to a new facility at 61st Street and Ellis Avenue, according to Robert Rosenberg, associate vice president for public affairs in the university's Office of Communications.

Cassel said Antheus intends to move forward with its plans for the Shoreland shortly after the students leave so that the structure doesn't sit vacant for too long. "We are actively working now so that we're ready to go with our new plans," he said. How quickly they'll be able to proceed depends on market conditions and other factors, he added.

The 13-story Shoreland was constructed in 1928 as a luxury hotel that in its heyday hosted Al Capone, Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa. Several years afte the structure began to deteriorate, the University of Chicago bought it in 1977 at foreclosure for $750,000.

Maroon gives more detail on MAC's evolving plan including need for gut rehab, commitment to historic character, likely commercial component. October 10, 2008. By Tyler Warner

This coming June, as the last students leave Shoreland Hall, a familiar face will be moving in: MAC Property Management. In late August, Antheus Capital, MAC's parent company, purchased the Shoreland, becoming the building's third owner since the University sold it in 2004. The Englewood, NJ-based company paid $16 million for the storied hotel, the Hyde Park Herald reported last month. That was far more than the $6 million the University received when it sold the building to Kenard Corporation in the original transaction. Upon the death of its owner, Kenard sold the Shoreland to R.D. Horner and Associates, the company with which it had competed to win the original contract in 2004.

According to Sherry Gutman, deputy dean for housing and dining services at the University, the University did not expect the Shoreland to be the subject of multiple transactions. The original contract made with Kenard included a provision that allowed the University to protect its interests in the building until the Shoreland was no longer needed, despite the changing ownership. Under the arrangement, the University will continue to hold its current lease on the building until the contract expires on June 30, at which point MAC will step in as th building's sole manager.

Although the University's interest in the future of the Shoreland has been primarily to ensure the continuation of the lease, Gutman said that she is familiar with MAC's work and expects the building to continue as a valuable part of the University community in coming years. She said that although Antheus was not part of the original bidding process for the Shoreland, she has no reason to expect that their work will be of a lower quality that the two original bidders, who she said have outstanding reputations as rehabilitators of historic buildings.

While MAC has yet to announce plans for the building, MAC spokesperson Peter Cassel said the guiding principal for its development would be the preservation of the building's historic heritage. Opened in 1927, the Shoreland was at one time the most expensive hotel in Chicago, complete with riding stables and a three-story restaurant, and played host to a number of Chicago's most famous and infamous residents, including Chicago gangster Al Capone in the 1920s and 1930s. The University purchased the building in the late 1970s and has operated it as a residence hall since that time.

Upon completion of the renovation, the building will likely include a sizable commercial component in addition to its residential capacity, but Cassel said that MAC will not go through with plans to partition the building into luxury condos, as was proposed by the building's previous owners.

Whatever the final form of the building, Cassel said it would likely be several years before residents could move into the Shoreland. "The building needs very significant renovation, he said. "For a new use it will need a full rehabilitation of the entire structure."

The Shoreland is the most recent in a series of purchases by Antheus of historic buildings within the East Hyde Park community, a number of which, like the Shoreland, are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. "We think that East Hyde Park can continue to grow as one of the great apartment communities in the entire city of Chicago, Cassel said.

According to Shoreland resident master Lary Rothfield, the University decided to sell the building as a result of the rising costs of maintenance and th University Master Plan, which calls for as greater centralization of student housing around the campus.

Although Cassel would not reveal whether MAC intends to redevelop the building with the intention of creating student housing, he said that the building would be appealing and accessible to students.

Later and recent starts here

At the former hotel and University of Chicago dormitory, the Shoreland, rehab will begin this spring 2012. The city has signed off on much of the project and is currently reviewing building permits. The process may be slow because plans call for excavating for an underground parking garage for the 5484 S. South Shore Dr. building. Interior demolition will begin in the coming weeks.
By late winter 2013 city landmark status was granted and the project was 2/3 done, to start leasing late summer 2013.

At the start of 2010, negotiations continued with neighbors, upon which Ald. Hairston was waiting before sending to the city a letter of support, after which the developer can file with the city to start approval process.
to Moves forward to city review. Support was generally favorable at a June 21 public meeting.
HPKCC reread its letter of support from last fall.

Report by Antheus/Silliman to the HPKCC Board September 3, 2009 and from the site visit of the HPKCC Development, Preservation and Zoning Committee September 5, 2009.

HPKCC letter to Alderman Hairston, October 15, 2009

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference wishes to voice its support for the principles of development that Antheus Capital presented for the Shoreland Hotel, plans which crucially respect the architectural integrity of Hyde Park. We also support their approach to an open community process in discussing the Shoreland Hotel development with its neighbors and the community at large.

The Shoreland Hotel deserves historic preservation as the premiere example of Hyde Park's legacy of elegant residential hotels, and it deserves restoration to its former elegance in the hands of a sensitive architect.

Jay N. Ammerman, President

June 21 Ammerman reiterated the letter at a public meeting an added that while parking is always an important question, there are other things to be considered also, things that lead to emphatic support.

Report by Gary Ossewaarde, HPKCC Development Committee chair, who is responsible for content.

The following is a composite of the two explanations. Presentations were by Peter Cassel, the firm's community affairs director, accompanied at the site visit by Danielle Meltzer Cassel, the firm's attorney. The owner (since August 2008) has found that the former planned use development plan for redevelopment as a condo building no longer fits the current market nor does it, in its view, respect the building. The developer had explored several potential uses for the building, including all or part as a boutique hotel, but found the University prefers a hotel in Harper Court and the market will not support more rooms. It's exploration found that rental (probably higher end) best fits the building, the area, and its own mission and expertise.

The planned use development plan had been heavily vetted in the community, so despite (or maybe because of experience with) loudly expressed complaints and concerns by at least a good part of the neighbors at the time, any request for amendment is felt by Ald. Hairston to need strong community backing, according to Cassel. Alderman Hairston has asked the developer to present and discuss with a large number of localized and broader organizations before she would consider making such a request. This process was underway by September 2009, with HPKCC among the first to consider.

Essentially, the developer finds that the best chance for the building is an historic restoration of the common areas and buildout as a higher-end rental building. This would have mostly smaller units (for rental large units would encourage groups of students to move in, unstable for this area according to the developer). The density would be much smaller than the nearly 1,000 original hotel rooms and maximum of 700 students the University housed there, but there has to be a range of number of units between about 325 and 350, according to financing banks, to be viable. This is different from the number of units specified in the current Planned Use Development. Affordable set aside units are not envisioned. During vetting of the old, many neighbors wanted larger units for families partly to prevent parents buying or students and causing turnover. But, Antheus says, the dynamics are the opposite for rental. Still, some neighbors may still want ample size to consider moving in.

If there is to be restoration of the historic lobby, ballrooms etc., and not changing parts of the exterior, the parking will have to be in the lower level and that at most can handle about 200 no matter what devices are used (partly because of limits from the building's column spacing). They intend to handle all tenant and as much as possible restaurant etc. parking inside the building. Parking entry would be from the alley from 55th St. They believe 200 spaces would work given what the requirements have been for similar buildings reused in Hyde Park, plus proximity of transit, and tendency of many occupants not to buy spaces (the only way to avoid some tenants parking outside and impacting neighborhood parking is to leave the building vacant.) Of course, some neighbors may not see it that way. The benchmark test of "empty building" in summer was not a good test because it was a cool summer so there was not the usual outside demand for parking. There are times that parking in that sector is at capacity and other times that there are plenty of spaces, persons on the site visit who live close to Shoreland said. The owner does not believe he is responsible for providing extra parking for the neighborhood, and it would not be practical given building logistics anyway. There was no parking previously. There are problems with using the city's formal parking ratios, which the city staff doesn't like anyway where there is transit nearby.

The developer has begun working with city departments, on delineating exactly what changes have to be made to the building, which in some ways is in deplorable state. Here is as clarified by Peter Cassel: "In terms of the status of the City, State and federal historic preservation discussions...we are just at the beginning of a long process regarding preservation. Among the first steps is identifying the number of units we can build in the structure and this discussion is with the City Department of Zoning and Land Use Planning. Landmarks Illinois is a private organization and we have not discussed this development with them."

The developer's core goals are: an economic revival impact, viability, bring back the grandeur through a restoration project, and creating as much parking as possible. No zoning change would be needed, but the PUD would have to be amended, according to Cassel. In Kansas City, they are on their 6th such conversion in Kansas City, so have much experience. As the vetting process continues, Antheus will be asking groups to state support for the project.

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Hyde Park Herald, September 9, 2009. This article emphasizes that the building would be rental and a restoration project, not the change in parking space numbers and location.

[Peter Cassel of Antheus tells HPKCC board of rental conversion plan for Shoreland]

The storied [Shoreland- not Sutherland!] Hotel will house 325 to 350 rental units if owner Antheus Capital gets its way. That is according to Peter Cassel, director of community affairs for MAC Property management [actually Silliman], which oversees Antheus' more than 70 Hyde Park buildings.

"Rental housing is, frankly, what we do," Cassel told the board of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, or HP-KCC, at its Thursday night meeting last week. Cassel said Antheus had explored several options, including a condominium conversion, before settling on rental units. The units will mostly offer one-and two-bedrooms, but cassel said earlier complaints about smaller units drawing unruly tenants did not apply in rental housing. Larger, three- and four-bedroom units, while attractive to families looking to buy housing, draw students when they are rental units, Cassel said, pointing to the company's extensive experience with rental units at it many other properties.

Cassel said Antheus would be taking advantage of preservation tax credits available through the state in order to help finance the redevelopment. He added that the company would not alter the exterior facade. "It's really a magnificent building, he said."

As reported earlier to the Herald, Antheus bought the property in August of last year for $16 million. From the beginning, while not saying what the company would do with the property, Cassel has emphatically stated what they would not not do: pursue the planned condo conversion the previous owners, Kenard Corp., had announced which had alarmed nearby residents. Concerns with the sorts of tenants their small condo units might draw, as well as parking and aesthetic worries, strained relations between the company and the Shoreland's neighbors.

After the death of Kenard's president, Hal Lichterman, R.D. Horner and Associates purchased the property in August 2006 for $10 million, with the announced intentions of proceeding with Kenard's plan. Both developers leased the property to the university to house students there.

The 13-story Shoreland was constructed as a luxury hotel that in its heyday hosted Al Capone, amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa. Several years after the structure began to deteriorate, teh University of Chicago bought it in 1977 at foreclosure for $750,000.

Antheus aims to resurrect Shoreland's grandeur

Hyde Park Herald, September 23 2009. By Kate Hawley

It's tough to imagine former guests Amelia Earhart and Elvis Presley checking into the old Shoreland Hotel these days. After a period of disuse at mid-century, followed by more than three decades as a University of Chicago dorm, the building is definitely the worse for wear. But despite its scuffed linoleum and dripping pipes, the rambling, vacant building at 5454 S. South Shore Drive, built in 1926, retains hints of its original grandeur. A recent tour revealed remnants of ornate terracotta in the vast ground-floor ballroom and wood-paneled walls in a study rumored to have been a meeting place for Al Capone and his cronies, for example.

The historic features are key to a redevelopment plan now being proposed by 5454 s. Shore Drive LLC, a venture of Antheus Capital LLC, which owns more than 70 Hyde Park apartment buildings.

The developer is seeking a 20 percent tax credit under the federal historic preservation tax incentive program, according to Danielle Meltzer Cassel, and attorney with Vedder Price PC, which is representing the project. To get the tax credit, which Meltzer Cassel said is "essential" to financing the ambitious rehab, the developer must convert the building to rental apartments. between 325 and 350 units are on the drawing board.

Antheus must also perform extensive demolition and remediation while keeping the integrity of the building's most significant historic features. "We're sort of horse trading our way through that," said Peter Cassel, who is director of community development for the Silliman Group LLC, Antheus' development arm, and Meltzer Cassel's husband. He declined to specify a cost for the project, saying only that it will be "tens and tens of millions of dollars."

Because a zoning change is required, Antheus also needs community and aldermanic support from Leslie Hairston (5th). "As far as the historic restoration, I'm excited about that," she said, adding that she will wait to throw her full support behind the project until it has broad community approval.

Antheus' plans differ substantially from the current Planned Development zoning -- designed for a condo conversion that was approved by the city but never came to fruition. In 2004, Kenard Corp. bought the 13-story building from the University of Chicago for $5.25 million, with a plan for 260 condos and a 281-car parking garage rising from the basement to the sixth floor. Though the parking was to be tucked inside the rear of the building, part of it would have been housed in a new masonry structure meant to match the building exterior. After Kenard principal Hal Lichterman died, developer R.D. Horner and associates bought the property in 2006 for $10 million and decided to proceed with the same condo conversion plan.

Antheus, which bought the Shoreland in August 2008 for $16 million, held off on making any announcements about its plans for the building until this month. the collapse of teh housing market, which made condo financing especially difficult, made that idea unlikely. The company considered hotel use, according to Meltzer Cassel, but decided against it after the university and the city announced earlier this year that a hotel would be part of the Harper Court redevelopment at 53rd Street adn harper Avenue. "There's no logical reason to try to compete with that," she said.

The apartment rehab would be designed by Antheus' frequent collaborator, Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects. The high-profile firm's portfolio includes ultra-modern projects like the Aqua high-rise in Streeterville, instantly recognizable for its rippling facade. Gang also designed Solstice on the Park for Antheus, a high-rise planned for the northwest corner of 56th Street and Cornell Avenue.

Her redesign of the Shoreland lobby would echo the Art Deco makeover the hotel undertook in the 1930s, when the original red-and-black Spanish Revival detailing was deemed out of vogue. The apartments-- many of which would have lake views--would be open, modern spaces targeted at the high end of the market. Creating 325 to 350 units is "essential for the financial realities of undertaking this ambitious historic preservation project," according to a statement from the developer. Most apartments would have one or two bedrooms, likely bringing the building occupancy to between 400 and 450 people. That's more than in teh Kenard/Horner plan but less than the dorm, which house almost 700 students, and the hotel, which had 1,000 guest rooms.

Several new parking configurations are under review. At minimum, 100 "legal" spaces meeting city dimension and access requirements would occupy the basement, a mezzanine level to be constructed between the basement and the first floor, and a small outdoor area just south of the building. If tandem spaces, valet parking and automobile lifts were added, the number of spaces could jump to between 150 and 250 (though fewer than 100 of those would meet the legal standard).

Cassel said that Antheus' experience with high-end rental apartments in Hyde Park and elsewhere shows that having roughly one parking space for every three residential units is a workable arrangement. Valet, tandem and lift options could accommodate the extra parking needed should a restaurant or other business occupy one of the ballroom spaces, he added. The garage planned as part of the condo conversion is unworkable for this project because it would damage too much of the historic structure -- including the relatively well-preserved Crystal Ballroom on the rear mezzanine level -- to get the historic tax credits. Meltzer Cassel said.

In recent weeks the Cassels have scheduled tours of the building with at least a dozen groups from neighborhood buildings and local community organizations, with an eye toward garnering their support. Additional tours will be held in advance of a public meeting on Sept. 30. The tour, best taken in sensible shoes, reveals both dank corners and architectural gems, from the leather-stamped wallpaper in a small nautical-themed room to gargoyles from the building facade now stored in teh attic.

The use of the common spaces has yet to be determined, but Meltzer Cassel was already speculating about the Crystal Ballroom. Looking up at the wedding-cake scrollwork around the moldings, she said, "This might be the world's most beautiful gym ever."


Herald says "Support Antheus' Shoreland efforts." Sept. 30, 2009

The Herald visited the Shoreland Hotel, 5454 S. Shore Drive, with Peter Cassel an Danielle Meltzer Cassel, speaking on behalf of Antheus Capita. Antheus is opening the building to neighborhood groups in anticipation of a Sept. 30 community meting where they will present their plans to rehabilitate the classical revival-styled building using historic preservation tax credits. The rehabilitated Shoreland will house 325 to 350 rental apartments, largely one- and two-bedroom units. Parking for the apartments will mostly be in the basement, where a mezzanine level will be constructed to afford additional parking spaces. Antheus envisions developing one of teh building's historic ballrooms into a restaurant, another perhaps into a community-accessible space. The last developer, Kenard Corp., planned to gut one beautiful ballroom for parking.

In both planning and execution, this project is a perfect fit for the community. Because the development will involve historic tax credits, Antheus is working closely with a well-regarded advisor in historic preservation in restoring this important building to its former glory. Because the community is being taken very seriously via several meticulously planned meetings, including the community-wide meeting at the end of the month, there should be no surprises regarding the project's intentions and plan of action.

Through creative use of the building's somewhat awkward basement space, Antheus expect to fit somewhere between 100 and 250 parking spaces. The proposal that yields 250 spaces is a logistical nightmare involving professional valets shoehorning in cars in every possible configuration.

Antheus is willing, should community pressure be intense enough, to implement this plan, but we have visions of frustrated residents and restaurant goers waiting fro long period of time as multiple cars have to be shuffled to access remote parking spaces.

We urge the community and Antheus to settle for the 100 to 150 spaces that can reasonably be developed without hydraulics and professional drivers involved in complicated configurations. This is an excellent project and should not have to assume the mantle of solving East Hyde Park's parking problems. We know that parking is a very, very contentious issue in the neighborhood, however; w urge the community to come out in force for the Sept. 30 meting. Just as we are able to show up to express our dissatisfaction for projects, we must similarly support good development in the neighborhood.

Antheus Capital, with its considerable building portfolio in the neigh, is assuming risk by developing these apartment with limited parking. Cassel tells us their experience suggests this risk is warranted. We should bear in mind that they are the ones who will suffer if their parking scheme is insufficient and give them the benefit of the doubt here.

It would be a shame to pass up a viable plan for a historic, endangered building just because of a projected parking issue. Lets show Antheus and the rest of the development community that Hyde Park can be a supportive environment for development when it is done right.


A rebuttal letter from Michael Hoke

To the Editor:

I beg to differ with anyone who states that the Shoreland can provide adequate parking with only 100 to 150 available parking spots.

This so-called study that two out of three individuals who own luxury condominiums will not own an automobile is ludicrous! It is my experience that almost everyone who owns a condominium owns an automobile and many own two or more.

The owners of the Shoreland want us to believe that the restaurant planned for this location will be able to use what little parking they are providing. For the restaurant to be viable they will need numerous parking spots, which will require valet parking in the community and signage prohibiting others from parking on the street.

East Hyde Park has no available street parking on most nights of the week and if this plan is allowed to go forward we shall have even less available parking for individuals to visit us in the evenings and on the weekends.

Another large building that is going to take up large amounts of street parking in East Hyde Park is the Del Prado when the renovation is completed. They plan on having a restaurant and hall available for large events. This will again lead to valet parking and requests from the operators of the facility to the Alderman to block large amounts of street parking for their sole use.

I would hope the Alderman and others involved in these projects to have concerns for the permanent residents of the area.

Michael Hoke

Herald report on the September 30, 2009 Shoreland meeting

Antheus' Ungar pitches Shoreland project. Herald, October 7, 2009. By Kate Hawley. Name and roman numeral errors corrected.

Though a contingent of neighbors complained about its shortage of parking, others voiced enthusiastic support Wednesday for developer Antheus Capital LLC's plan to convert the old Shoreland Hotel into high-end rental apartments. Antheus held a public meeting at the building, 5454 S. Shore Drive, in an effort to rack up support from Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) -- a necessary step in securing an amendment to the existing Planed Development zoning designation.

Antheus principal Eli Ungar said financing is in place for the renovation, which calls for 325 to 350 apartments and somewhere between 1200 and 250 parking spaces. The massive Louis XVI ballroom on the ground floor may also get new life as a restaurant or event space, he said. He strongly prefers creating 220 or more parking spaces, he said. To squeeze that many cars into the existing basement -- and a new mezzanine level to be built between the basement and the first floor -- Antheus would have to create a system of tandem parking spaces and automobile lifts, to be operated by a professional valet service.

Diane Lukoff was among several neighbors who said that wasn't enough. She worried that the Shoreland residents and visitors wil use up street parking, already scarce in East Hyde Park. "The current proposal with inadequate parking is unacceptable," she said.

A plan to access the parking garage from the rear alley drew criticism from a woman who said she feared too many cars would rush through the narrow space. Ungar said traffic studies showed that alley access would be "least impactful" to the surrounding area.

Hyde Park resident Richard Gill argued that the Shoreland renovation would add to the neighborhood's tax base and create a vibrant hub of community activity. "Please approve this project," he said. "It's good for this area, and it's good for the neighborhood." James Withrow, a local resident, said neighbors are misguided to want ample street parking - often a sign of an undesirable city neighborhood. "If you're in a neighborhood with lots of street parking, that's surely someplace you don't want to be," he said.

Others argued that he roughly 700 students who occupied the Shoreland in its previous incarnation as a University of Chicago dorm likely had more cars than teh residents of the new apartments would bring. Freshmen who lived in the Shoreland were no allowed to have cars, but sophomores, juniors and seniors were, Hairston added.

Jack Spicer, speaking on behalf of the Hyde Park Historical Society, urged support for the Shoreland plan because of its emphasis on historic preservation. Members of the development team have pointed out that Antheus' financing rests in part on federal historic preservation tax credits, which wil prevent any significant alteration to the historic elements of the building. The six-story parking structure that was party of a previous condo conversion plan for teh building would mean removing the Shoreland's historic Crystal Ballroom and additional portions of the interior, Ungar said.

Hairston said she would consider all of the comments before making her decision, and would work with neighbors to find additional solutions to parking shortages in East Hyde Park.

Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce letter of support

We are writing to express our organization's strong support for the redevelopment of the Shoreland Hotel property as planned by 5454 South Shore Drive LLC. as proposed, the development plan wil create up to 350 residential apartments, provide no fewer than 200 parking spaces (potentially 225 spaces), preserve the historic building envelope and restore grand ballrooms. This is an improvement to its last use as a dormitory with no parking spaces and the 2006 development plan that called for the destruction of historic features.

Residents of East Hyde Park have expressed frustration for decades with what is perceived as a neighborhood-wide shortage of on-street and garage parking. We do not believe that a treasured historic property in our community should remain vacant and undeveloped (or underdeveloped) because it will create more demand for parking. The additional revenue provided by new residents to our neighborhood businesses wil help fuel Hyde Park's future growth.

We hope you will generously and creatively assist with the zoning, land use and historic preservation approvals necessary to bring this project to fruition.

Note: Greg Gutman is board member of the Chamber and an employee of MAC Property Management. He recused himself from this decision.

Greg Teague, President, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce

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Stalled or not at the end of 2009?

Alderman Hairston, the developer, and the 5490 board say the latter two are still negotiating on parking, the Alderman that she cannot recommend the project until the residents of the nearby building are satisfied there is enough parking. How much meeting and serious negotiation has really occurred we do not know. The developer says the sparce parking solution is tied to having a plan that will win historic reconstruction credits. All say they are encouraged and confident.

Rushim Bains sent a strong letter to the Herald December 29 calling on Ald. Hairston to not let negotiations with "self-interested" neighbors derail the project but to support it.

Project moves forward as developer makes changes, Alderman Hairston sends letter of support and developer files papers with city. How is it different? Further changes expected as city reviews plans and request for amended PUD.

As reported in the February 3, 2010 Hyde Park Herald. (In its editorial, the Herald called the green light "tardy" but it can also be said that negotiating with neighbors can take time-- and in this case seems to have led to creative improvements that look like call for less changes to PUD in parking styles and thus maybe less at which the city could balk-- scoring a bi-directional win-win. HPKCC and Hyde Park Historical Society have like the Herald thought that plans have been made and openly explained with great care and are "a model of how and when historic tax credits should be used as well as a major improvement to the community. And all appreciated the alderman's insistence that all the parties be respected and allowed to fully negotiate.

The key changes so far are 40 more parking spaces under the lawn turnaround, a structure for more cars on the planned surface lot between Shoreland and structures to the south. While most parking traffic and trucks coming in will go via the west alley to 55th St., there will be two new curb cuts on South Shore, one to accommodate the south parking building and the other the north alley. Negotiations continue with the East View Park residents to the north, since to alleviate pressure on the alley to the west (some as of present, some from the original new plan, and some due perhaps to accommodation to neighbors to the south) there will be a private truck exit on the north of the building. Their letter to those within 250 feet and their application mention all possible uses in the development, but it is unlikely all will be there. They are still asking the Zoning and Plan commissions for right, but not obligation to use valet and stacker underground parking.

The current PUD is No. 1062 as amended; they are seeking an additional amendment. The applicant is located at Antheus Capital, 32 North Dean St. 2nd floor, Englewood, NJ 07631, Attorney is Danielle Meltzer Cassel, Vedder Price P.C., 222 N. LaSalle St., Ste. 2600, Chicago, Illinois 60601, 312 609-7962, dcassel@vedderprice.com. See applicant's description below.

By Kate Hawley

The renovation of the old Shoreland Hotel is moving forward after months of negotiations between the developer and the neighbors, who have complained about potential parking shortages and traffic congestion stemming from the project. Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) has now agreed to support a plan by developer Antheus Capital LLC to convert the Shoreland, 5454 S. Shore Drive, into 325 to 350 upscale rental apartments.

Her letter of approval was required as part of a zoning change application submitted to the city by the developer Jan. 28, according to Peter Cassel, director of community development for the Silliman Group LLC, Antheus's development arm.

Hairston said in December that she would withhold her approval until the neighbors next door, in a condo building at 5490 S. Shore Drive, were satisfied with the project. Tom Hecht, chair of the condo board at the building, did not immediately return a call seeking comment by the Herald's press time. Hairston also could not be reached. But in a newsletter sent out by her office last week, she said that the Shoreland project is "progressing," adding "I recently informed the city that Antheus has done due diligence in communicating with the building's neighbors and satisfying their concerns. I will of course step in, if these positive situations change."

The application Antheus submitted to the city -- which seeks a revision to the current Planned Development zoning designation -- differs in several ways from the proposal presented to the Hyde Park community in September, according to Cassel.

More standard-sized or "legal" parking spaces are now included: 140 instead of 100. Antheus will put the additional spots underground, beneath the semicircular driveway in front of the building, and in a separate parking structure south of the building, in an area was originally designated as surface parking. Antheus may seek to add even more parking spaces -- as many as 266 total -- by using automobile lifts and valet service, according to Cassel.

Also, the developer has agreed to alleviate traffic in the alley west of the building, where all vehicle access was formerly located, by putting a garage entrance on the south side of the building and an access point for trucks and service vehicles on its north side. A pedestrian pathway that allows Shoreland and others local residents access to the lakefront park will also be preserved.

And the developer agreed to restore signage on the building's east side -- which Cassel said is in keeping with plans for a historically sensitive renovation. Federal historic preservation tax credits are a major part of the financing for the project, Antheus representatives have said.

The project will likely continue to evolve as it moves through the process of seeking city approvals, according to a letter sent Jan. 27 to neighbors who live within 250 feet of the building. "...The project will continue to evolve with input form city departments, city officials and teh community," wrote the attorney for the project, dAnielle Meltzer Cassel of Vedder Price PC. "On-site parking designs and traffic circulation are two interrelated aspects of the project we particularly expect to evolve through this process."

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Applicant's description

...a proposed adaptive reuse, restoration and rehabilitation of the Shoreland that would utilize Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits. The proposed project contemplates (i) up to 350 residential apartments; (ii) a minimum of 140 on-site parking spaces (as compared to a 100-space minimum under our prior design); (iii) a historically-sensitive rehabilitation of the Shoreland's first and second floors, particularly the lobby areas and grand ballrooms. a primary goal of redevelopment is to reconnect the Shoreland with the neighborhood by reactivating those areas with non-residential uses that would be a benefit to the quality of life for the Shoreland's future residents and the Hyde Park community. We certainly do not expect to have all or even most of the following non-residential uses, but in order to create the opportunity for a range of potentially beneficial uses, the applicants seek permission for banquet and meeting hall use, various entertainment uses, lodges or private clubs, cultural exhibit and library uses, artist work or sales space, college and university uses, office space, restaurants (with or without alcohol service, entertainment, outdoor patios, an accessory catering(, tavern uses, non-accessory parking, and various on-site amenities and services that could benefit residents and neighbors, such as an ATM or small bank facility, a dry cleaner's drop-off and pick-up, general retail sales and food and beverage retail sales (including sale of packaged been and wine), a health club or gym, personal serice uses such as a beauty salon, spa or barbershop, or other uses included in the final Planned Development Amendment.

Please understand that the overall redevelopment project has many features we cannot fully describe in this letter and that the project will continue to evolve with input from City Department, City officials and the community. On-site parking designs and traffic circulation plans are two inter-related aspects of the project we particularly expect to evolve through this process. In terms of current site circulation designs, the applications contemplate retaining the existing semi-circular drive for drop-off and valet operations. In response to community feedback, the current designs no longer contemplate directing all other vehicular traffic to the first north-south alley to the west of South Shore drive. Instead, loading vehicles would enter at the alley and exit from a new driveway to the north of the existing building. Vehicles utilizing the new on-site parking facilities would enter and exit from a new driveway to the south of the existing building as well as from multiple points along the alley. And while we are confident our design wil achieve at least 140 on-site parking spaces, our applications and supporting documentation also seek city approval for valet and automotive lift operations that might accommodate as many as 266 vehicles.

 

 

 

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Seeks rezoning for liquor licenses on 55th, Cornell to Metra

MAC Properties has petitioned for rezoning that would allow liquor licenses for the row of ethnic restaurants it landlords in the 1600 block of E. 55th St. between the viaduct and Cornell Ave. Included would be Morry's Deli, which raises some amused brows) but not the dollar store across Cornell, whose predecessor liquor store was voted dry a few years ago for alleged deleterious effect and activities. An informal pre-submission pre-hearing was held by Ald. Hairston. The restaurants are generally seen as conservative major contributors to the business and cultural scene and a draw, including for students' parents, that need the help and flexibility in the economic times from ability to sell alcohol (assuming they can qualify for individual licenses). Some nearby residents either feared increases in activity and parking demand or feared deleterious effects, even claiming every liquor license leads to problems, not true (i.e. Piccolo Mondo, but often true for the Cove and Bar Louis) in this writer's observation and more noise in that area coming from residents over the stores. These matters are not always simple, as needing review would be the proposed category in the recently revised city code to examine all and any changes that might be allowed in addition to liquor licenses, that might be feasible in these establishments and could affect quality of life--e.g. rooftop or sidewalk patios, live music, etc. As for change coming, it already will be with Solstice on the Park-- likely one of the motivations for the zoning change by the landlord which is also building Solstice. (Note: Finishing on 55th exterior repair work and removal of the scaffolding would in this writer's view give an immediate lift to the restaurants and stores on the block. Also, in full disclosure, MAC Properties is a major donor to Ald. Hairston's electoral campaigns.)

Chicago Maroon, October 3, 2008. By Lokchi Lam:

A rezoning proposal that would allow several Hyde Park restaurants to acquire liquor licenses was presented by MAC Property Management in an informal neighborhood meeting on Thursday night. The potentially affected restaurants, including Morry's Delicatessen, The Nile, Thai 55, Cafe Corea, and Kikuya, are on 55th Street between the Metra tracks and cornel Avenue; all hold leases with MAC.

According to MAC representative Peter Cassel, the objective of the proposal was to boost revenues for the restaurants. "There's almost nothing else on the menu you can sell with those kind of margins," Cassel said. "They told us they were looking to improve their businesses, and we put together this plan with the very direct goal to help them with their businesses."

The rezoning application, if submitted to the city, would request a change in the buildings' statuses, allowing the restaurants to acquire liquor licenses and provide occasional entertainment and dancing.

Several Hyde Park residents expressed concern that increased traffic caused by the rezoning would compound local parking problems, raise the price of dining out, and cause alcohol-related disturbances for neighbors living near the restaurants. "Every place that has a liquor license creates problems neighbors that live near it," said resident Elizabeth Long at the meeting. "I really don't like the idea of creating more and more of that... It could potentially change what this area and this block is about."

However, Alderman Leslie Hairston, who also attended the meeting, responded to resident concerns by pointing to checks and balances in the licensing system. "It's not like it'll be a free-for-all, and everyone is dancing in the streets... We can take away their license if things get out of control," she said. Cassel echoed Hairston's sentiments. "It's not so much about consumer experience as their ability to make money on that," he said. "We're looking to help the businesses grow so they'll invest in the interior and invest in the restaurant experience."

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Zoning change to allow alcohol sales on 55th St. Ald. Hairston pledges support for switch at city level. (with list of what the new allowed uses would be.)

Hyde Park Herald, October 8, 2008. By Sam Cholke

Mac properties announced to neighborhood residents Oct. 2 its intentions to change the zoning on a building at 16012-23 E. 55th St. in an attempt to help the 12 business owners in the East Hyde Park building to be more competitive. "We have a direct goal of helping them be more successful in their businesses," said Peter Cassel, director of community development for MAC Properties.

Cassel told about a dozen residents that MAC had gone to the businesses to ask them what could be done to make them more productive, and they said they wanted the option to apply for a liquor license to serve alcohol. About half of the businesses in th building are restaurants. Currently, customers can consume alcohol they bring, but the restaurants may not sell it.

A representative from Kikuya, 1601 E. 55th St., said most of their customers are looking for sake or Japanese beer and that they would like the option of offer them that. The zoning change would allow for a healthier mix on their menus as far as profit margins, Cassel said.

The proposed change would be to B3-5 from B1-5. the new zoning does not affect restrictions on building size or density or minimum parking standards but would allow new types of businesses to be housed in the building.

Under current zoning, restaurants in the strip are barred from applying for a liquor license or offering catering, major revenue sources for businesses according to Cassel. The zoning change would also open the door to other types of businesses locating in the fully occupied building. A veterinary clinic, employment agency, dry cleaner and other businesses could take up residency under the new zoning without a special permit. Business like tattoo parlors, cremation services, liquor stores and other businesses would have to apply for a special permit requiring public meetings and the alderman's approval.

"I think this neighborhood is known as a business friendly place," said David Gill, a neighbor. "If this is good for business, it may change the block [a] little-- I don't think it will-- I'm for it.

Peter Cassel said all the business owners were very supportive of the zoning change and the three house holds from the 22 rental units he had spoken to said, "Cool." University of Chicago students rent most of the residential units in the building, according to Cassel.

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said she took the community reaction to be positive and would support the zoning change as it moved through City Council and th Committee on Zoning. The process will likely take three to four months, she said.

Cassel said masonry repairs would start on the building long fronted with scaffolding as soon as permits were approved. The paperwork for the permits has already been submitted to the city, he said.

New uses under new zoning B1-5 to B 3-5 (almost all the spaces are far to small for most of these new uses.

New uses permitted without a special use exception. Licenses would be required

New uses with special permit

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Peter Cassel gives update on large buildings and the liquor rezoning for restaurants to East Hyde Park Committee meeting October 2008. Updates.

Renovations are underway in the last two Algonquin buildings, north of 51st.
East Park Tower. Residents are being moved so full renovation can start. There will be fewer apartments.
The Del Prado is almost empty and renovation permits are being submitted. For years the building has has malfunctioning heat and plumbing. Here there will also be fewer units. Retail reorganization is under consideration for DP and EPT. Parking needs to be reconsidered. Construction on the Del Prado will take at least two years. Area-wide parking solutions are being looked at.

Shoreland rethinking is in progress, in line with full understanding of requirements. The previous owner's plan was to use the base floors for parking. They rather keep and fix up these historic parts, but underground parking is very expensive. Not brought was the possibility of a boutique hotel inside.

Some present at the meeting said later at other public meetings that they felt Antheus and other businesses and institutions were insufficiently aware of possible impacts of changes they carried out, especially those increasing density or raising prices/rents.

Peter Cassel of Antheus also met a little later with Coalition for Equitable Community development on how to introduce affordability opportunities into their remodeling and other projects (apart from what is in the Solstice and Village Center projects). Antheus expects to proceed with a pilot garden apartment recreation in one of its buildings on Drexel, allowing one unit to be more affordable, providing exceptions to rules requiring more parking can be arranged. Providing for affordable set asides in larger buildings being remodeled, such as the Del Prado was said to be highly unlikely.

Eli Antheus met with the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Development Committee in late January 2009. Discussion of economic and other development and affordability issues and prospects was extensive and detailed. Some decisions are on a wait and see basis, burt Eli was anxious to move forward and listening to community input.

MAC Properties petitions for a zoning changed to allow restaurants in the Del Prado selling hard liquor.

April 15 2009 update by Peter Cassel.

Del Prado. Rezoning should come up at the May 20 (3rd Wednesday) meeting-check with them or 5th Ward. They want to do the north ballroom even before the residential, but it wil up to a year to get ready for a restaurant starting when zoning is approved and permits obtained. For the south ballroom (old HPAC) they are uncertain what will fit since it doesn't have windows. They have filed for permission for restoration of the upper floors (House of Eng), but are blocked by zoning since the whole building is "nonconforming"-- should have only about 8 stories. They are asking that the exception of destruction by disaster such as a lightning strike be applied to the current situation- destroyed by neglect. 3 storefront businesses are expected to continue indefinitely, including the convenience/grocery store. There is a medical clinic on the west mezzanine, which Peter was less clear whether it will stay. Parking options are still being explored-- if not resolved by the time a restaurant opens, valet parking will be used.

In other news, MAC will have c 250 refurbished apartments coming on line this spring, three-flats plus Algonquin buildings.
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A public meeting was held February 23, 2009 in the building lobby, now empty of residents and frigid. While some came to vigorously protests the possibility of a package liquor store, when that was foreclosed by Antheus and the Alderman, the meeting settled down. According to the Maroon, quoting Kim Webb of the 5th Ward Office, "The alderman made it pretty clear that she wasn't going to let there be a liquor store there." The change is from B1-5 to B3-5. Some other business possible under the zoning, although Antheus is not necessarily considering any of them, would include veterinary, employment, dry cleaner or, with special permit tattoo parlor, cremation. Antheus seeks a quality restaurant, saying there is 12,000 square feet of vacant space on the ground floor. The rezoning is needed to attract such businesses.

Herald, March 4, 2009. By Sam Cholke

Owners of the Del Prado apartment building hosted a community meeting on Feb. 23 to broach a proposed rezoning that would allow for liquor sales at the site. The 196-unit building at 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd. is slated to go through a yearlong rehab process that will include restoring the two ballrooms. Part of the purpose of the rezone is to facilitate attracting a restaurant to one of the 4,000-square-foot ballrooms, according to Peter Cassel, director of community development for MAC Property Management.

Persons from the Conference who attended the meeting said it was useful, informative, and the presenters had done their homework. They appreciated the tour and the commitment to not bringing in a liquor store. Highlights include that it will be relatively high scale rental with facilities for seniors to age in place, will have anew elevator, will restore historic character, and was being done by respected Jeannie Gang architects. They are working on some parking options even though this is not required. It should be finished by late 2010.

"What should be a hallmark of east Hyde Parkers should be great restaurants," Cassel said. Under the current B1-5 zoning, the building can house a restaurant, but the eatery could not obtain a liquor license or catering license, according to Cassel. Both liquor sales and the ability to cater are essential to attract and maintain the financial viability of a new restaurant, he said. "It's going to take tenants with real cash flow that can make that risky investment and build out to make it worth it," said Danielle Meltzer Cassel, zoning attorney for MAC.

Peter Cassel said right now the plan is to attract one restaurant to the north-facing ballroom while the zoning change opens up new uses for the south-facing ballroom, the former home of the Hyde Park Art Center. Under the new B3-5 zoning, a veterinary clinic, employment agency, dry cleaner and other businesses could take up residency without a special permit. Businesses like tattoo parlors, cremation services, liquor stores and other businesses would have to apply for a special permit requiring public meetings and the alderman's approval.

"Alcohol has traditionally been a problem here in east Hyde Park," said local resident Barbara Mayers at the meeting. Mayers said the prevalence of alcohol and proximity to Harold Washington Park has contributed to disruptions in east Hyde Park in the past. Mayers was one of many from the immediate neighborhood who said a liquor store would be an unacceptable tenant in the Del Prado.

Cassel said he agreed with Mayers sentiment and would not pursue a tenant that would adversely affect quality of life in the neighborhood or MAC's ability to attract new tenants to the Del Prado or any of the other MAC-managed buildings in close proximity. "We can't have a place that's a problem or makes it difficult to live here," Cassel said.

Any establishment selling liquor would also have to be approved by Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), who was clear to residents that a liquor store would not be an acceptable business for East Hyde Park. "If anyone were to propose to me a liquor store, I would say no, find another tenant," Hairston said. Hairston, who will sponsor the zoning change through City Council, said she thought the reaction to the proposed rezoning was positive with one clear caveat. "I heard a clear message that we don't want any taverns or package goods liquor stores," Hairston said.

The Del Prado was acquired last year by Antheus Capital, which employs MAC to manage its Hyde Park properties. Cassel said they are still in the process of applying for city permits to begin work on rehabbing the building. When it is reopened to tenants, the Del Prado will be about 189 units, a significant portion of which will be one-bedroom apartments, according to Cassel. Cassel said the rehab would take about a year, once work has begun.

During a building tour on Feb. 25 Cassel described how units would be updated with senior citizens in mind. Cassel said they imagined a building geared towards tenants who wanted to grow old in Hyde Park. The rehabbed del Prado would not be a senior living building with in-house services, but would have the necessary infrastructure in place for residents who choose to employ home health care services.

The lobby would also be fully revived with a new elevator, Cassel said. He said that bringing the lobby back to its original grandeur would require removing two small commercial spaces inside the building that are currently vacant.

The fate of the former House of Ing restaurant on the 12th floor remains unresolved, according to Cassel. "Right now, we have no plans for that whatsoever," cassel said. "We're working with the city to determine what's possible." The floor has deteriorated to such a point that several walls would need to be replaced to make the space useable, according to Meltzer Cassel. "We bought a building that was left to deteriorate, Meltzer Cassel said. The work that needs to be done is "not explicitly authorized," she said. They have filed with the zoning board of appeals to remove and replace the 12th floor with almost exactly the same footprint -- minus 60-square-feet for a new fire escape, Meltzer Cassel said.

The 13th floor is in a similar state of disrepair, according to Cassel. He said he did not know what the space was last used for, but consist of a series of small velvet-covered rooms with a washbasin in each. "I don't know what people do in small velvet-covered rooms," Cassel said.

The zoning change MAC is seeking for the Del Prado is the same as the October change for MAC's 1601-1623 E. 55th St. building. The zoning change was sought so restaurants in the complex could apply for liquor licenses. No businesses have yet applied for a liquor license, according to Cassel. Cassel said repairs to the facade have resumed and are scheduled to be completed by July.

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Updates on the Del Prado To May 2011.

September 1, 2011, occupancy date, residents began moving in and 30% of the units had been rented. Rental as well as ground floor remodeling will continue.

The Del Prado, southeast corner of 53rd and S. Hyde Park, was another grand hotel, succeeding a former of the same name on 59th St., that gradually fell in to disrepair but when closed had 192 "affordable" units. Antheus, before buying, had suggested at a public meeting to affordable and senior advocacy groups that the Shoreland be investigated for senior-friendly living quarters. Antheus has said that as a rehab and not historic restoration, it is not required to have affordable set aside and will have high-end rental. However, aldermen usually have required some set aside or accommodation elsewhere. Plans have not been finalized with the city, so perhaps there will be further discussions on the Del Prado mix.

Antheus (Silliman Partners) was scheduled to appear before the Zoning Board of Appeals May 15 2009 because, it says, to make commercial space upgrade possible, it needs to replace the current badly deteriorated former House of Eng 11th and 12th floors (1929) with "high desire" (better) penthouse living space. Current ordinance can be interpreted to mean that since this space is above the 80 feet modern height limit for B-1 c zoning, the current structure could not be replaced if removed (as it must be according to Silliman. Other interpretations are possible, but the best course according to Silliman is to change the zoning to B-3 c as needed for restaurant with liquor anyway, and get a favorable interpretation re compliance with height limit. The structure, current or proposed (which will be a bit higher) are visible from the ground only at the north end of Harold Washington Park (with distinction between old and new unnoticeable). Current is not considered by the city to be historically significant or a part of the original building. Note, new restaurant use there would not be feasible because of access, elevator and other considerations.

A part of the application proved controversial with the city. Current height is much larger than would be allowed under either zoning today. The department apparently preferred elimination of the 1925-added 12th floor wings (once the House of Eng space, but reality of the latter apparently questioned) to replacement upgraded and at points higher for fine-view apartments. Antheus/Silliman appealed, to be heard May 15, 2009. HPKCC, inter alia? was asked to send a letter of support. Following site visit, this was approved. If someone needs to see the exact text, they are welcome to ask at hpkcc@aol.com.

5th Ward Alderman and Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference supported. HPKCC board members took a site visit and submitted a letter of support.

The Zoning Board of Appeals granted the petition. The following Herald coverage was outpaced by events but does state reasoning of the city's reluctance to grant exceptions. Alderman Hairston on the other hand prefers to do all zoning etc. on a case by case basis. The Del Prado enters teh Planned Unit Development process in July.

Del Prado faces zoning board. Herald, May 20, 2009. By Sam Cholke. (Re par. 2 there actually was a major fire in the facility- you can see smoke on the walls inside).

Antheus Capital's development arm, the Silliman Group, made its case to the city's Zoning Board of Appeals May 15 over a conflict in zoning code that could dramatically alter the financial viability of rehabilitating the Del Prado building, which sits on the southeast corner of 53rd Street and Hyde Park Boulevard. The altercation arose after the Department of zoning declined Silliman's request to replace the walls on the building's top floor, where four luxury rental units are planned.

The top floor was installed seven years after the completion of the 1918 hotel and is considered a noncomforming element, which according to the zoning code can only can be entirely replaced if "partially damaged or totally destroyed by fire or other causes beyond the control of the property owner.

Margaret Cavenagh, managing architect at Studio Gang, the firm working on the Del Prado's rehab, told the board that the wings on the top floor were repaired in an "inappropriate" way that resulted in weather damage severe enough to bow the walls. Danielle Meltzer Cassel, zoning attorney for the development group, argued that her client recently acquired the property and the deterioration of the wings and the damage should be considered outside the current property owner's control.

The members of the board appeared sympathetic to Meltzer Cassel's argument, and she expressed confidence that the appeal would be successful when a decision was handed down in the next 30 days. One member of teh board called the project "fantastic" before calling on Steven Valenziano, who handles zoning and land use in the Department of Community Development to answer "Why would you not lok hard if it means th e difference between the viability of the building or not?"

Valenziano said he felt his interpretation of the code was accurate and said that waivers should not be given capriciously. "There are absolutes. you have to draw the line somewhere," Valenziano said. "The law does not give the zoning administrator the ability to waive that section of the code. The zoning examiner can't just say, "I think this is a good project and I'm going to waive section 17 (of the municipal code).

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) both issued statements in support of the project.

Changes OK'd for Del Prado

Herald, June 10, 2009. By Kate Hawley

The historic Del Prado building would house one or m ore full-serice restaurants under a proposal floated by Silliman group LLC, teh development arm of major Hyde Park real estate owner Antheus Capital LLC. The Company is shortly to begin a major renovation of teh 1918 tower, located at the southeast corner of Hyde Park Boulevard at 53rd Street. A zoning change is required to accommodate the restaurant plan.

The Chicago City Council's zoning committee voted unanimous approval Thursday to up-zone the property from B1-5, a neighborhood shopping district, to B3-5, a community shopping district. The higher designation means that a broader range of businesses -- including full-service restaurants with catering operations and separate bar areas -- will be allowed on the property. Other types of businesses, such as tattoo parlors, pawnshops and payday loan stores would be allowed only after a community review. The new zoning would not change the density or size of buildings allowed on the site.

Silliman has not made a deal with any restaurant operators yet, according to Peter Cassel, director of community development for Antheus. "We're actively talking with a number of people," he added. The restaurants would occupy what were originally two vast, ornate ballrooms on the building's mezzanine level. One of the spaces was home to the Hyde Park Art Center before it moved to its new location at 5020 S. Cornell Ave. in 2006.

Currently the Del Prado houses apartments with small retail shops on the ground floor. It uses to have a restaurant at the penthouse level, but that space is being converte4d into luxury apartments. Silliman received permission last month from the Zoning Board of Appeals to rebuild the structure with slightly higher walls.

Silliman is also seeking to upzone a mixed retail and residential building at 1350 E. 53rd St., formerly home to a Washington Mutual bank branch. "What we're doing is trying to bring back the zoning map in Hyde Park to where it is in other neighborhoods," Cassel said. As an example, he cited Andersonville, which has a thriving row of shops and restaurants along Clark Street. [See next feature.]

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Work was continuing on the two buildings at the end of 2010, with an emphasis on both speed to keep on target and using expert craftsmen and subcontractors to restore or recover the interesting finds in the buildings.

May 2011: The Del Prado, the historic high-rise hotel that was left to deteriorate by its previous owner, will reopen in late spring and be reoccupied in the fall. Residents of the 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd. building were moved out in 2008 and the building gutted to redo electrical and plumbing systems [and much space reconfigured]. The building will reopen with its two ballrooms rehabbed for potential restaurateurs.

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Silliman (Antheus constr. and dev. arm) seeks similar zoning change, here B1-2 to B3-2 for its formerly WaMu, now MAC hq. bldg at 1350 E. 53rd. As per Del Prado and E. 55th.

TIF council OKs up-zone, Cleanslate budget also discussed.

Plans to up-zone a Hyde Park building to accommodate a restaurant topped the agenda [May 11, 2009] ...The council voted unanimously to approve a plan by Silliman Group LLC to change the zoning for Kenwood court, 1350 E. 53th St., until recently home to a Washington Mutual Bank branch. Silliman is affiliated with real estate firm Antheus Capital LLC, which owns more than 70 buildings in Hyde Park and is behind some of teh neighborhood's biggest development projects.

Kenwood Court, now zoned B1-2, a neighborhood shopping district, would be rezoned to B3-2, a community shopping district, according to Peter Cassel, director of community development for MAC Property Management, another Antheus affiliate. Silliman is seeking the higher zoning designation to move forward on a plan to lease space in the building to a full-service restaurant with a separate bar area and catering facilities, Cassel said.

Several in the crowd of roughly 30 that attended the meeting asked whether the up-zoning might open the door to other kinds of businesses the neighborhood might find objectionable. Cassel noted that liquor stores, tattoo parlors, cremation facilities and a range of other businesses must undergo community review before approval under the B3-02 zoning classification. Council member Jane [Comiskey] asked if the building's resident and immediate neighbors had expressed any concerns about the zoning change and restaurant plan. "The ones we spoke to were all for it," Cassel said.


MAC/Antheus in late 2008 was still being criticized for how it allegedly does business, changing affordability and other dynamics in neighborhood, but perceptions in 2009 appeared to be growing positive. Also a few feared liquor licenses will change street dynamics, others called that a wild scenario.

MAC shows arrogance with zoning proposal. Herald, October 22, 2008. Letter from Sharon Carney

As a long-time Hyde Park resident, I have been appalled by MAC Properties' actions lately. I am concerned at the way they move people out of buildings where they had lived for 15 and 30 years. Then, after remodeling, they rent to high-end tenants. They are forcing out day care that supported the working members of our community. They are reducing the number of affordable housing options for long-time residents.

They talk about community, yet their actions appear to be creating the neighborhood they want, not the neighborhood they bought into. Now I read that they bring liquor sales back to the neighborhood east of Lake Park. What is this but an attempt to develop an elitist neighborhood for the wealthy. What about the quality of life for all the residents who have been living in the neighborhood all these years without alcohol sales? What arrogance it must take to believe they can change the will of the people just because they bought a lot of buildings in Hyde Park. The buildings were for sale -- not the neighborhood or the people that make it a community.

Another problem MAC and some other property owners have faced is an increase in bedbug infestations. Some say the weapons have been decreased by banning certain pesticides and sometimes students moving a lot with borrowed furniture or not cooperating with exterminators. Bedbugs are not related to sanitation problems or any demographic.

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Sutherland bought- to resuscitate with 30% affordable units (through 2018). A South Side Landmark, its nearly-complete historic ballroom hosted blues and jazz greats. Will add well over 100 occupied affordable units while trimming units from 156 to 109. KOCO insists on better deal for tenants from exiting Heartland. Sutherland presents many of the perplexities, barriers, challenges of both older neglected buildings and of affordable housing.

Antheus gave considerable concessions to the tenants and by the tail end of August a Heartland was working with all the 43 tenants, who were moving, and paying out thousands of dollars in assistance. MAC will pay up to a year in assistance for rents higher than last at Sutherland and provide letters of explanation of circumstances. When the rehab is done, applications from former residents will be given priority, but units will not be reserved.

But, when MAC issued eviction notices saying almost all tenants had not paid August rent, and that the relationship was tenants pay and MAC provides money for moving, KOCO (Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization) held a demonstration (called raucous by the Herald and that only had a couple of tenants involved) at MAC hq on 53rd St. MAC then refused to meet any further with KOCO but only with tenants.

By early summer of 2010 Antheus had entered a contract to buy from Heartland Alliance the 1917 Sutherland Hotel at 47th and Drexel. Its ballroom had once been venues for Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Dizzy Gillespie and a major restoration project of jazzman Malachi Thompson after his return from years as an emigre in Paris. Sutherland was Heartland's first major affordable residential project-- the tax credits require 25% set aside regardless of owner. When Heartlands' request for renewal was denied in 2007, the building was put up for sale and occupancy is now under one third. An assessment and final approval of ballroom renovations by the city is now underway, after which the city will release a $500,000 Empowerment grant for arts programming at the Sutherland ballroom (renovated from a $412,645 grant.) In order for the affordable tax write offs to continue, Heartland must continue as tenant of the ballroom and other things have to be arranged such as temporary set aside of the affordable credits during renovation. Antheus and Heartland expect to have all worked out within a year so renovation can begin.

 

Hyde Park Herald, August 11, 2010. Antheus Capital Buys Sutherland. By Sam Cholke

["We are not animals," says Sutherland resident Sherri Langhamas she and fellow tenants Shirley Perry and Troy wynn speak with the media about conditions at the Sutherland Apartments and the notice they would have to move in 30 days.]

The Sutherland building has lost the battle against decay, and the few residents sticking out the fight were informed Aug. 2 that their leases would not be renewed as teh building is cleared prior to renovation by new owner, Antheus Capital.

"Seems to me like it's preordained," said William Burns, who has lived in his 4th floor apartment in the Sutherland, 4659 S. Drexel Ave., for 14 years. "There comes a time for all of us to move on, but we shouldn't be forced to move on." Standing in his one-bedroom apartment on Aug. 5 a he got ready for his baking job at Jewel, Burns said he thought he could manage the 30-day notice to move, but he wasn't sure some of his neighbors would fare as well. "This is not only a building--to a lot of us it's a home," Burns said.

Burns and the 42 other remaining residents invested their faith in the building and its former owner, Heartland Housing - faith that the owner would come through on promises to renovate the building. A rehab of he historic ballroom on the building's first floor was completed last month, and many residents assumed their apartments would be next. While residents waited, they suffered as their home crumbled around them.

"I've got a big hole here where the rodents come in," Burns said, leaning over his radiator. Crouching down he pointe to two long brown discolorations in the carpet on either side of his bed where pipes leaked and flooded his apartment last month. "I stepped out of bed into a puddle," he said.

The apartment building's decay has accelerated since 2007, when Heartland Housing lost out on federal funding for a rehab of the building. "We thought they were going to fix the building," said Raymond Cunningham, who has lived in his seventh-floor "penthouse suite" for the past eight years. Heartland has offered to help in finding a new place, but Cunningham said he would like to come back. "You want to come back? I don't want to see this building again," said Pat Harper, as she and Cunningham compared bedbug bites in front of the building.

Cunningham said the problems around the Sutherland, which sits at the intersection for the Hyde Park, Kenwood and Grand Boulevard neighborhoods, were problems he knew and could manage. He said he was hesitant to move to a neighborhood where he didn't know the people and the dangers. "You've got to figure out if the neighborhood is safe; you don't want to move into a neighborhood with gangs," Cunningham said.

For many longtime residents, the notice to move brings back memories of 1989 when Heartland Housing bought the building, which was then firmly in control of the El Rookens gang. "We feel like we got it to one level," said Andy Geer, executive director of Heartland Housing. "We weren't able to get the financing to get it to the next level." The Sutherland was then teh first building Heartland Housing purchased in Chicago. "It's definitely very bittersweet fo us," Geer said.

Heartland Housing has set aside $150,000 of the $2,725,000 sale of the building to help residents transition to a new apartment. Heartland will pay for residents to move, pay the first month's rent and provide financial assistance to any resident who move into a higher priced apartment.

Too Far Gone to Fix

The new owner, Antheus Capital, looked at renovating the building with the residents in lace, but found the building to be in such poor physical shape that it couldn't be done. "We can't figure out how to do it with folks still in the building," said Eli Ungar, president of Antheus Capital. "The only thing we could think to do was empty the building and renovate." Ungar said the building's electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems are too far deteriorated to fix with the building occupied.

The renovations will trim the number of units down to 109 from 156. Tax subsidies awarded to Heartland in 2008 will transfer to the new owner and 30 percent of teh units will bed set aside as affordable through 2018. The remaining units will be set at market rate.

Antheus owns more than 70 buildings in Hyde Park and the surrounding communities, many purchased as under-occupied buildings that haven't seen any major investment in 90 years. "We're really rebuilding these buildings," Ungar said. Antheus Capital has been criticized for removing affordable housing units in the neighborhood when it purchases old buildings, rehabs them and reoccupies them at at a higher rent.

"There is an affordable housing problem in Hyde Park we are aware we are not solving, but that's a question we're not shirking from," Ungar said. Ungar said...many of the buildings Antheus has purchased had such low rents because the previous landlords were not investing any of the rent money from tenants in keeping up the building, thus keeping the rents low at the expense of the life of the building.

Both Heartland and Antheus pointed tot eh Sutherland as an example of the current difficulty of financing affordable housing. "There just isn't enough capital flowing to save these properties, and when it does flow, it doesn't flow that quickly," Geer said of the financing options available to nonprofits like Heartland.

The for-profit Antheus is still struggling to find a financing model that would allow it to offer more affordable units at the Sutherland. Ungar said he is looking at ways to provide more affordable units in its buildings, but is coming up against city zoning rules that make it difficult. "If we can make the numbers work, they can come back," Ungar said.

[KOCO organizer Jitu Brown discusses the demand of Sutherland residents with Heartland Alliance Executive Director of Strategic Services Liz Sode during a march out front of the organization's downtown headquarters last Friday. (more in next)]


Antheus and the Sutherland. A Herald editorial, August 11, 2010

One thing you have to admit about Antheus Capital head Eli Ungar is that he does not shrink from a challenge. His latest purchase of th Sutherland Hotel, 4659 S. Drexel Blvd., is matched perhaps only by his vision for high-rise Solstice-on-the-Park, on 56th Street at Cornell avenue, in its boldness and complexity.

The Sutherland is a storied hotel constructed int eh late-1910s, early 1920s. It was a jazz mecca that drew audience members of all ethnicities to its "Black and Tan" performances. Over the years, it was converted into an apartment building and eventually owners acquired subsidies from various agencies to assist tenants in paying rent.

By the time Antheus bought the property last month, it had devolved into a vermin-infested, moldy, code-violating, largely vacant property. Nevertheless, the remaining tenants are agitating loudly for their rights, even as the head fo the organization that was the previous owner, Heartland Housing, a subsidiary of Heartland Alliance, announce that the tenant will have just 30 days to vacate. This has drawn the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization into the fray, and they and the tenants are making three demands:

- Ninety days for relocation;
-A year of subsidy for renters to compensate for the move;
-The right to return to the property after redevelopment.

It's quite a mess that Ungar is walking into.

Despite the controversy surrounding the building's maintenance history -- and, in a sense, because of it-- we think Antheus is the right company for teh building. It is in desperate need of the kind of thoughtful rehabilitation antheus has demonstrated in several other properties. Both its history and the quality of its construction deserve careful attention.

While we have confidence in Antheus' capacity in that respect, we are more concerned about the disposition of the current tenants. Antheus has an agreement with Heartland that makes the former owner responsible for relocation. While Heartland has a fine track record in general, the organization has failed these tenants as building managers. Antheus should persuade Heartland to agree to the tenants' and KOCO's demands and to do what it can to support those tenants. The troubled history of the building was perpetuated by Heartland and it sold a building occupied by tenants and owes them respect.

 

Chicago Tribune. Wednesday August 11 2010. By Alejandra Cancino
Given 30 days to move, tenants sound blue note. Sale of Sutherland Hotel, a former jazz hot spot, means renovation but th loss of dozens of low-cost housing units.
Pictures- sign says "MAC Properties and Heartland Dump Tenants!" Jay Travis of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization rallies with residents of the Sutherland Hotel at the Heartland Alliances's Loop headquarters. The tenants are protesting the 30-day notice they received to vacate their homes. Another says "A popular jazz venue in its heyday, the Sutherland Hotel became a run-down apartment complex in recent decades."

As a child, Leroy Bowers remembers seeing John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong an Dizzy Gillespie outside the Sutherland Hotel at 47th Street and Drexel Boulevard on his way to Kenwood Park. "I would come by and see people lined up to see the show," said Bowers, 62. In the 1960s, it was common to see famous jazz musicians hanging around the seven-story, 154-room hotel famous for its Sutherland Show Lounge. The hotel's New York Room frequently hosted private parties, and celebrities would gather in the Ebony Club.

As it has for other storied entertainment venues of the time, the glory of those years fade, and by the early 1990s the hotel was turned into low-and moderate-income rental housing by its owner, Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights. The building, which declined over the years--mold on the walls, infested with mice and cockroaches--was recently sold for l$2.7 million to developers who plan to renovate teh building and turn it into low-income and market-rate apartments.

That's good news to people who say the building and its history deserve to be preserved. But longtime residents, such as Bowers, are losing their homes. On July 29, the day the building was sold, Bowers and teh 42 other tenants received a letter informing them they have 30 days to vacate. Residents say that's not enough time and are demanding that Heartland Alliance gave them 90 days. They also are asking for 12 months of rental assistance and the priority right to return once the building has been rehabilitated.

But Andrew Geer, vice president and executive director of Heartland Alliance, said it's up to the developer, Antheus Capital, to make such concessions, adding that Heartland is merely acting as the relocating agent. "The goal is overall to move people forward as quickly as possible and make sure that they have options as they are looking for them," Geer said, adding that Heartland has made case managers available to help tenants find new homes and monetary assistance to residents in good standing on a case-by-case basis. Residents will be able to apply to rent the new units, but will not be given any preferential treatment, he said.

Peter Cassel, Antheus Capital director [sic] said he wasn't aware of any demands by tenants, but added that the company believes that "the agreement has the right amount of time: 30 days." Cassel said the firm plans to renovate the interior of the building into 109 rental units. Of those, 30 percent would be for low-income housing. The exterior of the building and the ballroom, which was renovated in recent years, will remain intact to preserve their historical value, he said. The project is expected to be completed by the spring of 2012.

it is another new beginning for the 93-year-old building Louis Armstrong once called home. Originally a military hospital, the building became a destination for many jazz celebrities as one of the city's few integrated hotels. it had a barber and beauty shop, a tailor, a travel agency, a delicatessen and medical offices. The Show Lounge was one of the few places where African-Americans could go and "see their heroes," said Jitu Brown, education organizer for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization.

In the 1960s and '70s, the hotel suffered as Kenwood businesses and residents left the area. Thousands of housing units in the areal immediately north of the hotel were lost to abandonment and demolition. By 1982 the Sutherland had become a decrepit transient hotel. It sat nearly empty until it was bought in 1989 and turned into low- and moderate-rent apartments by Heartland (then called Travelers and Immigrants Aid) and Oakwood Development Co. in a deal that received a city tax credit.

in the 1990s, Bowers and trumpeter Malachi Thompson tried to bring back some of the Sutherland's musical glory. They formed the Sutherland Community Arts Initiative and, with the help of federal empowerment zone funds, hosted jazz concerts at the Sutherland. "If we succeed at the Sutherland--which we will--maybe we'll be able to help turn this neighborhood back into a middle-class, working-class place," Thompson told Tribune critic Howard Reich in a 1997 interview.

In the 2000s, when the city's tax credit for the Sutherland expired, Heartland submitted an application to the city to refinance the property. Geer said the application was denied and informed the residents that Heartland intended to sell the building. Bowers, secretary of the Sutherland Tenants Council Association, said residents tried to partner with different organizations to buy the building, but no deal came through. Two years ago, Heartland entered negotiations with Antheus Capital, the current owner.

Jay Travis, executive director of Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization , said that in the past decade, the community has lost thousands of affordable apartments, displacing residents with long ties to the community. The building's sale means the loss of another 150-plus affordable units* [she] said. "The importance of teh Sutherland is both its reach of history but also its affordability," Travis said.

Bowers still hasn't made a decision about new housing. Having worked hard to bring the music back to the Sutherland, it's hard to give up a dream. "I feel like I am at an extra inning in a baseball game and I'm down 1-0."

*The number depends in part on definition of affordable-- it assumes even the 30 percent will not be really affordable. If one assumes they will meet the city definition, then it's a loss of loss of 49 (154-109) + 76 market rate = a loss of 125 with 33 remaining affordable and larger than present units.

Apparently, one-third will be available to persons earning less than half the Chicagoland median income, although it is unclear to this page whether this is only through 2018.

Antheus granted the tenant requests, although it will proceed with eviction of those exceeding the new 90 days deadline.

In a letter to residents, Antheus announced moving, rental and relocation assistance; extension of the closing date to 90 days; and priority application for occupancy fees and move-in fee will be waived. KOCO remains unclear or unsatisfied over filing for possession being undertaken during the 90 days.

Peter Cassel is quoted in the Herald: "We have significant respect for the building's history, the residents' experiences of the building and the dignity associated with the efforts to preserve and develop the Sutherland a a neighborhood asset."

The Sutherland's last tenants are gone as of mid September 2010. A sour taste was left according to some tenants, partly over confusion - esp. from Heartland employee's different advice - on whether to pay August rent and consequences of not doing so. It remains unclear from reports whether MAC did or did not tacitly use paying the rent as a condition for receiving the assistance and over whether the eviction notices some got are fully expunged. Residents were able to take with them much of the Low Income Trust Fund affordable subsidies attached the building-- a unique government concession. but such subsidies as 30% affordable stay with the building, at least through 2018. The Sutherland should open renovated in 2013.

Sutherland owners seek historic status

Herald, March 23, 2011. By Sam Cholke

The Sutherland is on its way to being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city's Commission on Chicago Landmarks said it would advise the state to add the former hotel at 4659 S. Drexel Blvd. to the register, which would allow developer Antheus Capital to apply for federal tax breaks. The listing on the National Register doesn't provide any specific protections to the building, according to Emily Ramsey, who prepared the application for Antheus. The designation allows the developer to apply for federal historic preservation tax credits, which knocks 20 percent off its taxes.

Getting on the register acknowledges and identifies the historic aspects of the building, but it's the tax break that will ensure it's protected. The State Historic Preservation Office will have to approve any development plans for the building before Antheus gets any tax incentives.

At a committee meeting of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, city staff identified the building's facade and lobby as elements to be noted to teh state's Preservation Office. The proportions and layout of the lounge were also to be protected, but not specific elements as the room has been renovated. City staff agreed the upper residential floors were of no special note. Antheus intends to alter the upper floors to create larger apartments.

Staff from the city's Historic Preservation Division said the details are getting ironed out with the state and the National Park Service, who must now sign off on the designation, and the Sutherland wil likely be listed on the register in two or three months.

The building opened in 1917 as a hotel and was unremarkable through its early iterations as teh Cooper Montah Hotel and then as a military hospital during World War I. After the war, the building was revived as a hotel, adding the Sutherland Lounge on the first floor. Throughout the 195's and '60s, the hotel was a magnet for a diverse crowd of jazz fans who flocked to see greats like John Coltrane and Miles Davis on the weekends and a host of local up-and-comers during the week. Louis Armstrong was a resident in the hotel during its golden era, when Monday nights were set aside for jam sessions in the basement. The hotel reached its nadir and bean a slow decline and closed in 1982, reopening in 1989 as affordable housing.

Antheus' National Register application is the most recent in a long list of building owners and tenants using the brief jazz glory as leverage to revive the struggling structure. In 2001, the Sutherland Community Arts Initiative, a group of tenants and neighbors, won a $500,000 grant to bring jazz back to the lounge. Teh then-building owner Heartland Housing secured a grant in 2004 to renovate the performance space. The frequently crumbling residential portion of the building frequently stymied the project. Shortly before the lounge was set to reopen last year, a frozen pipe bust, putting the new carpeting under two feet of water. When the damage was repaired and the plans were back on track to revive the jazz lounge, the building was in negotiations to be sold to Antheus.

Antheus continues to continue with the renovation of the lounge with Heartland Housing and the Arts Initiative. The National Park Service is expected to approve National Register designation later this month.

May 2011: Demolition continues at the Sutherland, a former military hospital and hotel at 4659 S. Drexel Blvd. Antheus encountered resistance from community groups and building residents when it first bought the property and proposed removing much of the subsidized housing. After negotiations, a portion of affordable housing will remain through 2018 and tenants were given assistance moving. Though a hair salon on the first floor of the building closed, a Chinese restaurant will continue to operate during renovations.

Sutherland lawsuit seeks cash. Herald, May 18, 2011. By Sam Cholke -Ed. Note, the portion against Antheus was dismissed May 16.

Former residents of the Sutherland Apartments filed a class-action lawsuit against previous and current owner for problems with security deposits. A notice was sent out last week to other former residents that may have experienced similar problems with the building owners.

Three former residents in September of 2010 claimed the pervious owner, the nonprofit Heartland Housing, did not pay interest on security deposits. The city requires landlords to hold security deposits in an interest-bearing account and pay out a set rate to residents each year. The tenants also claim they were not notified when their security deposits were transferred from the old owner to the new owner, Antheus Capital. Both claims are punishable by a fine of twice the amount of the original deposit to be paid to the tenant, plus any legal expenses.

The residents also claim that they were not given a copy of the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance, which outlines the legal responsibilities of the landlord and renter. The claim is punishable by a $100 fine paid to the tenant.

The case remains in court and on May 4, Judge Sophia Hall agreed to delay the next court date until May 16.

The Sutherland was the site of repeated clashes over that last year between former tenants and the new and old owners. The tenants felt they were not treated fairly when the building was purchased and the new owner decided to clear the building before beginning a rehab. Michael Spinak of Spinak & Babcock is representing the former tenants.

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53rd Cornell

In May 2011, Antheus was still in negotiation over this property. It's short term plan is to install a surface parking lot.

From the January 10, 2011 TIF meeting. Herald January 12 by Sam Cholke

Also at the TIF meeting, Antheus Capital said it would close next month on the purchase of a vacant lot at 53rd Street and Cornell Avenue. Peter Cassel, director of community development for Antheus, said the previous owner, L3 development and its investors, have turned over all community studies done when the site was slated for a high-rise residential building.

"I think it's most appropriately residential," Cassel said of Antheus' intentions for the site, adding that retail would likely be included to tie any development to surrounding retailers on either side of the Metra viaduct. The site will not be left as a vacant lot, he assured. "East Hyde Park could use more parking and that lot could work very well for parking if there's an extended holding period before development starts," he said. Cassel said Antheus has begun discussing ideas with neighbors, but rental housing was an appealing option."I don't hesitate to say the for-sale market remains very, very difficult," he said.

Antheus parking: 53rd and Cornell to become temporary lot. Herald, June 22, 2011. By Sam Cholke

Antheus Capital announced plans June 11 to use an empty lot scattered with gravel and broken bricks to solve some century-old planning mistakes in Hyde Park. By mid-fall, the lot at the northwest corner of East 53rd Street and South Cornell Avenue will be a 79-space parking lot -- at least temporarily.

The spaces will be rented out to residents of several buildings Antheus is finishing rehabbing in East Hyde Park. When the rehabs are complete, 362 residential units will comed back on the market in high rises.

"At the time, it was perfectly acceptable to build a 12-story building without parking," Peter Cassel, Antheus' director of community development, told a small group of East Hyde Parkers at a meeting called by Ald. Will Burns (4th).

The previous owner of the lot, L3 Development, planned to develop a 206-unit residential high-rise with retail on the first floor. Though local planning bodies signed off on the plan, the developer disappeared in the turmoil of the economic recession. Antheus would also like to be ambitious, an the parking lot would only be temporary while it gets plans together for the property.

"Long-term, our vision here is to develop this parcel and fill in the community. Given the 18 to 24 months it takes to plan, we have decided to create a surface parking lot," Cassel said. "We thought it better to have the parking lot for 18 months than the current dirt."

Cassel said one of the priorities was to eventually bring retail space to the lot to connect the commercial corridor west of the train viaduct with first-floor retail in the Del Prado, 5303 S. Hyde Park Blvd., [East View, and] other East Hyde Park retail spots.

Some in the audience were clearly unhappy with this plan. "Parking spaces in East Hyde Park are very precious," said one of the residents of a neighboring building. The meeting was mildly combative, with neighbors urging Antheus to build a temporary parking structure-- a suggestion dismissed as being far too expensive. Antheus was then urged to build a seven-story parking garage with retail on the first floor. Cassel said it would be considered as an option.

Even the temporary parking lot would not relieve the parking pressures that can irritate East Hyde Parkers. The lot would be limited to residents of the new Antheus buildings, with spots rented out to neighbors only if no Antheus tenant rented it out. At best, the lot could only maintain the status quo in that section of the neighborhood. Parking remains a frequent subject of contention in East Hyde Park, but evidence of the severity or existence of the problem remains anecdotal.