by Dan Rafter
Danny Michael married his wife in the ballroom of what is now the North Shore Residence in Evanston, Ill. So it’s little surprise that the property has extra meaning for the owner of Chicago’s Horizon Realty Group.
It’s little surprise, too, that Michael, along with his son and business partner Jeff, purchased the building with a plan to restore it to its former glory.
Horizon Realty Group plans to spend $5 million to renovate the building, turning it into a luxury community for active senior citizens with units available to rent, not own. The company will also spend $12 million to $14 million for an eight-story addition at the north end of the property.
Jeff Michael, chief operating officer of Horizon, said that nostalgia wasn’t the only reason why his company decided to invest in the property. Location played an even bigger role.
“This location had something that a typical senior living environment doesn’t have to offer: Most of the seniors housing developments that we are familiar with tend to be in suburban locations,” Jeff Michael said. “This property allows us to cater to people who don’t want to be in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a major city but don’t want to feel as if they’ve been transported to a suburb.
“This location gives us the ability to serve an active senior demographic that wants to get out and enjoy life and the environment. We have the lakefront in Evanston. We were captivated by that aspect. It gives us a competitive advantage over our competition.”
When complete, the North Shore Residence will include 200 apartments with modern amenities such as hardwood floors, granite countertops, maple cabinets, free Internet and satellite TV. It will also feature a dining room with country club-style dining. Residents will be able to choose, too, from other dining options such as a bistro and lounge.
Residents will also have access to a theater, fitness center, spa, card room, game room and two-story solarium lobby. Existing first-floor retail tenants Joy Yee’s Noodles, 527 Cafe and Barcelona Restaurant will remain.
Horizon Realty Group plans to finish the first phase of construction, the renovation of the existing building, by the summer or fall of 2014. The company will then tackle the second phase of the project, the addition that will add 65 new apartments and new public spaces. Horizon expects this phase to begin in the spring of 2014 and wrap up about 12 months later.
Construction does present a problem. The building today is 50 to 60 percent occupied, Jeff Michael said. Construction crews, then, need to complete their work while disturbing these residents as little as possible.
“We want to retain as quiet a living environment as possible while doing this massive renovation around them,” Jeff Michael said.
To do that? Construction crews will work in specific quadrants of the building at a time, relocating tenants to quieter areas of the property while doing so. Communication with residents will also be key.
“We hope that they understand that this is part of the beautification process,” Jeff Michael said. “We hope the enjoy the fruits of it on the other end.”