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CHICAGO-Following completion of Bob and Karen Ranquist’s own award-winning contemporary home in the Bucktown neighborhood, Ranquist Development has staked its claim on “boutique contemporary condos” in Bucktown and its surrounding neighborhoods. Bob heads the development arm, which has been operating in Chicago for more than 40 years, and Karen heads, RCR Realty, the sales and marketing arm.

The multifamily projects typically contain from five to 12 units each. Nine have been completed within the past six years, and another five are currently under development. Locally based Studio Dwell, headed by Mark Peters, is the lead architect.

“Bucktown represented an ideal starting point,” Karen Ranquist tells GlobeSt.com, “because it’s a shopping mecca and a very mixed urban environment just 10 minutes from the city.” It is within the overall West Town area that is now expanding to also include Wicker Park, East Village and Ukrainian Village. “All lie between Fullerton and Grand and Ashland and Western,” she says, “and they offer more affordable housing than lakefront properties.”

Bob Ranquist acknowledges that building these one-of-a-kind condominiums represent a cost-premium in comparison with standard look-alike projects. He declines to disclose construction costs, but says the firm finds it necessary to “educate appraisers on the value of these, which are more complicated to build that cookie-cutter designs.”

Because the projects contain few units, all floorplans to date contain a minimum of two bedrooms, which allows the company to obtain prices that provide ample return. “If we do a larger project, we might include some smaller units,” he says.

He also credits Studio Dwell’s Peters with utilizing “maximum interior space. There is virtually no wasted space in the cutting edge designs,” he says. “There are no long doorway-lined halls and there are masterful interior configurations.” In keeping with the contemporary designs, Ranquist uses high-end minimalist finishes and appliances.

Two “sister buildings” on corner lots at 2154 and 2157 W. Division St. in Wicker Park, currently under construction, are representative of the Ranquist multifamily portfolio. The buildings feature floor-to-ceiling windows, punctuated by slender stained cedar walls.

Each contains six units. The ones at 2157 are two-bedroom layouts of approximately 1,500 sf, each with an expansive deck and all including a garage. Karen Ranquist says prices range from $560,000 to $600,000. All units in the sister building are three-bedroom, single-story plans of approximately 1,750 sf. These are priced between $610,000 and $770,000. Six of the 12 units are pre-sold.

She concedes, “when we first started these projects, designs like these, using flagstone and black metal panels, for example, were unheard of in these neighborhoods. But, our initial projects proved that there is healthy market of architecturally oriented customers who are looking for these clean, contemporary looks, which can’t be accomplished in typical high-rise construction.”

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