The Promenade: Hines Lumber reinvented

River Forest townhome development will start building, and selling, very soon

Opinion

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By Lacey Sikora

Contributing Reporter

Development is back in River Forest. After almost seven years of vacancy, the Hines Lumber site at 7820 Madison St. is slated to become a townhome development: The Promenade. Fresh off their success in marketing Forest Park's neighboring complex of condominiums and townhomes, The Grove, April Moon and Mark Fischer of @properties are working with Northfield-based Interforum Holdings to market the planned 29 townhomes prior to construction.

Appetite for new development

On the other side of Madison Street in Forest Park, the condominium development of The Grove faced challenges of foreclosure and lack of sales during the real estate recession. In 2015, with more than 35 condominiums and several townhomes of the original 193 units unsold, Moon and Fischer were brought in to try to sell the remaining units. Moon notes that this experience makes the duo uniquely suited to market similar developments. 

"We sold out The Grove in nine months," Moon said. "I have 30 years of experience in the industry, and Mark has 11."

Moon thinks the River Forest real estate market is primed for new, multifamily development.  

"With The Promenade," she said, "we have an exciting opportunity that River Forest hasn't had in the past."

Fischer concurs, "The really exciting thing about this is there's no new construction in River Forest, other than sporadic single family homes, because River Forest is so built out. There's only a couple of parking lots where something of this nature could even be built."

Construction is slated to begin as soon as permits are finalized this spring, with a potential move-in dates beginning in January 2017. Both Moon and Fischer think one advantage to The Promenade is that while they are pursuing sales prior to the beginning of construction, the construction start date is not contingent on pre-sales. The project will continue to move forward as Moon and Fischer market the properties to interested buyers.

Moon believes there is a pent-up demand in the area for new construction homes where people can get in on the ground floor to choose finishes and details before construction even starts. With detailed plans in place, they are already working on marketing the townhomes and believe that buyers appreciate being able to get into the process from the start. 

Noted Moon, "Mark and I are really good at selling off plans. The renderings of the properties are phenomenal." 

An added bonus? A sister property similar to The Promenade in design was recently completed in Park Ridge. A model in the Hinkley Park Town Homes development is available for buyers interested in seeing a finished product similar to The Promenade. 

"People can go in and touch and see all of the finishes and really get a feel for how the townhomes will look and live," Moon said. "It's really helpful to see everything almost a year before The Promenade is scheduled to finish."

The townhomes

In River Forest, a suburb primarily known for its single family homes, the design of the townhomes was key. The Promenade is being developed by a division of Interforum Holdings, Chicago Condo Collection (or C3), a real estate development firm specializing in boutique condominium and townhome development and asset management. 

Fischer said the development emphasizes high-quality finishes both inside and out to draw in buyers who are looking for a well-finished, move-in ready home.

There are clear benefits to going from ground up with new construction. "April and I were both raised in Oak Park with its old homes," he said. "If you want to live in a modern home, you'd have to go in and rip apart an old home at considerable cost. To be able to provide the amenities The Promenade will have without being a million-dollar home is unusual."

He touts modern kitchens with top-of-the-line cabinetry and waterfall islands as some of the amenities discerning buyers will find in the townhomes. The brick exteriors of the townhouses will feature Prairie style-inspired design with horizontal trim and bigger eaves. Fischer and Moon said the style as well as the use of green space was intentionally planned to make sure the townhomes fit into the surrounding community, well-known for green lawns and historically significant homes.

The three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom townhomes all measure roughly 2,600 square feet and include a family room, a two-car garage and parking for two additional cars. With two interior and two corner floor plans, buyers will have a choice of four different levels of design. Pre-construction pricing runs from $519,000 to $549,000.

Moon thinks the townhomes will appeal to a wide range of buyers. 

"One of our big selling points is our great schools in River Forest. Both Lincoln and Roosevelt recently won Blue Ribbon awards. I think these homes will appeal to young families currently living in the city who love new construction. I'm an empty-nester myself, and I can see the townhomes will be equally appealing to empty-nesters. I want to walk the stairs and keep as active as possible. Today's empty-nesters are at the health club and will like this kind of lifestyle."

Location is the key to appealing to young professionals, young families and empty-nesters, Fischer added. 

"Madison Street has a big appeal for people from the city and to locals who are used to going out to dinner and shopping. Everyone wants that walkability. You're a block or two away from the restaurants and shops, and it's a straight shot down Van Buren to the Blue Line, which is great for commuting to the city."

Marketing

As Moon and Fischer kick off sales at The Promenade, they are hosting an open house for brokers at the neighboring Good Earth Greenhouse on March 8 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A website, www.ThePromenadeRiverForest.com is in the works as well.

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