CHICAGO-The booming West Loop area will get 101 condominium units at 31-39 S. Morgan St. under a proposal that received a favorable recommendation recently from the plan commission. Developer Phil Mappa hopes to break ground on his $35-million project in July or August, with completion expected in the summer of 2003.

Meanwhile, Evanston-based Piedmont Group is developing its nine-story, 70-unit Lofthaus at 321 S. Sangamon St. with a modernist design. Brininstool + Lynch is the architect. Developers of another 166-unit loft condominium project at 111 S. Morgan St., Evanston-based Winthrop Properties, is offering a free interest rate lock program for as long as 18 months, allowing for a maximum increase of 1.5 points above current rates. MidAmerica Bank is providing the financing.

“No one really knows where mortgage rates will be in 18 months,” says Bob Horner, co-principal of Winthrop Properties. “If you look back 18 months, rates were about 2 percentage points higher than they are today. Now, economists are predicting a recovery in 2002, and rates could go up again. That’s the dilemma new-construction buyers face, but this program offers protection.”

Pre-sales at 111 S. Morgan have hit 60% two months after groundbreaking, a sign of a continuing strong market.

“It’s stayed fairly strong since Sept. 11,” Mappa tells “You don’t have two-day sell-outs any more. But I don’t know if that was good. The volume of units in the West Loop seems to have leveled off to a more absorbable level.”

The project won the support of Alderman Burnett as well as the West Loopgate organization after going through revisions following a public meeting in July, says Phil Levin of the department of planning and development. Those changes included 10 units being set aside for a department of housing partnership aimed at providing more affordable housing in the city.

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