The first week of October was a big one for Chicago’s Fifield Companies. The developer celebrated the topping out of its K2 luxury residential tower.
K2 is an important project. The 496-unit 34-story high-rise is the fifth Fifield apartment tower in the K Station development, a master-planned development in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood.
Midwest Real Estate News recently spoke with Randy Fifield, vice chair and principal of Fifield Companies, about the booming multi-family market and her company’s latest K Station addition.
Midwest Real Estate News: Fifield has been busy building, even during the recession and the slow economic recovery. How has your company accomplished this?
Randy Fifield: We’ve focused on partnering with local banks and national developers to get buildings built. That’s helped our business thrive, even during these tough times. Look at K2: It was funded with a combination of Chicago banks. We worked with Fifth Third Bank, the PrivateBank and Cole Taylor, all in Chicago. We also worked with Bank of the West and Comerica Bank, national banks. Finally, we partnered with Wood Partners, a developer out of Houston, to put this project together.
MWREN: Are such partnerships unique?
Fifield: It is unusual to have so many people working together to build a project like this. But we were tenacious. We went to five banks thinking that we needed financing from three to make this a reality. Then everyone liked the deal. We couldn’t dismiss anyone from the project. So we did the deal with everyone involved. To this day, it’s a very unusual deal structure. We are building on time and under budget, so everyone is very happy.
MWREN: And you just celebrated your topping off with K2. That must be exciting.
Fifield: It is very exciting. We are building with McHugh Construction and, like I said, we are on time and under budget. We are on track for an opening in 2013, probably an April or March delivery.
MWREN: What sets K2 apart from other multi-family properties?
Fifield: There are many things. For instance, many of the high-rise buildings in the city have poor cellular reception. That doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it really is. So we have made sure that K2 will receive excellent cellular reception. In some tall buildings you have to put your cell phone against the windows and pray. Not in K2. We were focused on technology throughout, actually. We have high-speed Internet connections, Wi-Fi, all sorts of technology amenities. That is something you are not yet seeing in Chicago.
MWREN: And outside of technology, the building is in a great location, too.
Fifield: Yes. There’s a bridge from K2 that connects to a mall. There’s a salon there and a Radio Shack. And – this is very important – there is a Jewel grocery store in that mall, too. When you live in the South Loop, you can walk to the CBD and to Michigan Avenue and the restaurants on Randolph. But not every tall building allows you access to a shopping center and grocery store. That is especially convenient.
MWREN: Why do you think multi-family has been such a strong commercial sector for so long?
Fifield: Multi-family had been ignored for a long time, especially during the housing boom years. That’s changed now, of course, with the housing industry’s troubles. People are seeing that renting isn’t a bad choice. I think it’s something we’re going to see for quite a while.
— Dan Rafter