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Real Estate Bisnow
The largest commercial real estate publication in the United States.
January 4, 2012 

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Distressed properties are starting to move off banks' books. One clue: Englewood Construction's book of business is veering from ground-up to property renovations.

Bill Di Santo in Lemont, Ill.

This afternoon, Lemont-based Englewood prez Bill Di Santo told us his firm is getting more work from developers that want to spruce up strip malls (ahem, we mean neighborhood shopping centers) they acquired from banks—say, ones where vacant Kmarts sit in the anchor spots. Here, Bill, an architect, stands at his drafting table. In the window behind him is a horse sculpture, a souvenir from his dad's career. He tells us Dad Di Santo, who had a longtime interest in horses, was general manager of a few country clubs, and many more of those sculptures dotted the tables as centerpieces for his retirement from La Grange Country Club.

Pei Wei Asian Diner in Willowbrook, Ill.
Bill's firm has worked in 36 states in the past two years, but we also asked him what's new in Chicago. Englewood has built out two Pei Wei Asian Diners (like this one in Willowbrook and one in Mount Prospect) and is in negotiations to build out another in Streeterville to open in April. The concept is a P.F. Chang's offshoot, meant to be quicker and simpler. (We would have kept the name and just changed the P.F. to mean Please Finish.)

Randy Fifield at K2, Halsted and Kinzie, November 2011
Fifield's Randy Fifield told us today her company's smaller apartment projects (like one just announced in California's Santa Monica with 56 units and two restaurants, the 247-unit one in LA's Staples Center area, and a 130-unit project in LA's Koreatown) are easier to finance, say, with one or two banks. But that doesn't mean the Chicago-based developer's local projects—the behemoth Alta at K Station, whose 848 units opened in 2010, and the 496-unit K2 that broke ground at Halsted and Kinzie in November—aren't working. That's Randy at the groundbreaking, by the way.
K2 apartments at Halsted and Kinzie

Randy says the tower crane at K2 is up, caissons are in, and the first floor is being poured, aiming for an April 2013 delivery. Despite the fact that K2 is a $175M project that needed a five-bank syndicated loan of $77M to get started, it's Fifield's most cost-efficient project because the firm has owned the land for eight years. Alta, she says, is 88% leased, with 1,000 people already occupying 725 of the units. Worth note: although there's this trend toward efficient living (one-bedrooms), the 16 three-bedroom units there are all gone.

Randy Fifield at Alta at K Station, December 2011
More renters mean more people to give good tidings through apartment communities' holiday charity efforts. Randy Fifield, some of her children, family friends, the firm, and Alta residents adopted 25 local children through Grant A Wish and hosted a toy drive for Children’s Memorial Hospital. Randy originally got involved after one of her daughters had open-heart surgery there in '99.
Farmington Lakes apartments in Oswego, Ill., 2011
And residents of RMK Management's Farmington Lakes in Oswego sent care packages and thank you letters through Support Our Troops.
Farmington Lakes apartments in Oswego, Ill.
At the resident holiday party, they also signed this banner and sent it to US soldiers in Afghanistan.
Well, we can't go to the gym today or we'll look like all those New Year's resolution posers. Better to prove our dedication by starting tomorrow. Email amanda.metcalf@bisnow.com and susan@bisnow.com.
ML Realty (JanWk1) CHI
Liston & Tsantilis 3
Strada (Maintain2)
Metropolitan Club
Reznick Insights CHI
Bisnow Ind (18) CHI
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