According to a press release Belgravia Group has selected @Properties to help them sell the remaining 5 units in the Union Row development.
The four-story Chicago townhomes offer 3 to 4 bedrooms, 3 to 4.5 baths, 2,460 to 2,901 square feet, and attached, heated two-car garages. Prices recently were reduced by as much as $200,000 and are now at $374,900 for a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath home; $429,900 for a 3-bedroom, 3-bath home; and $499,900 for a 4-bedroom, 4-bath home.
I first wrote about this underpass and railroad track development almost 2 years ago when I was first befuddled by it. Here’s my favorite picture from that original post:
It’s very close to where I live and I drive by it almost daily, shaking my head in amazement each time that anyone would buy one of these units. Now I learn that they have managed to sell 30 units here! I
hate to think of the resale value.
I can’t believe that Belgravia even created this development in the first place. However, the press release says that the development was created by 16th and Union LLC and is managed by Belgravia so perhaps this is something that Belgravia took over or some investors came to Belgravia with this brilliant idea.
@Properties took on this project so they must believe they can sell them. I guess at the right price anything will sell. The marketing spin has already started, with the press release mentioning the convenient location but conveniently leaving out how conveniently located it is to the overpass and the railroad tracks.
0 thoughts on “Can New Marketing Strategy Sell A Bad Location?”
You can see a ton of YoChicago video from the neighborhood at this YouTube playlist:
A YouTube search for – Union Row YoChicago – will surface ideo walk-throughts, interviews and more from Union Row.
It’s clear from my videos that Union Row has made NO attempt to hide the features you’re suggesting it’s hiding. You’re off base on this one, Gary.
Disclosure: Belgravia / Union Row is a client of ours.
Typo alert – should be “video walk-throughs …”
Hard to tell whether you’re spinning this development negatively or just insufficiently informed.
Union Row was a Belgravia project from the outset. Like almost every developer Belgravia forms separate LLCs for each of its projects. There are many sound business reasons for doing so.
When was the last time you mentioned “on the tracks” in one of your listing write-ups? Or included “high-tension power lines in back yard” in one?
In an era when anyone can call up a Google Street View or satelliate image of this location there’s no need for the type of disclosure you suggest.
Have you stopped and visited the units? Asked any of the buyers about the appeal of the project?
I wouldn’t expect the developer to point out the flaws of the location – nor would I point them out if I were in their shoes. I just thought the marketing piece was funny in light of the serious drawbacks of the location. And I wasn’t being critical of the legal structure employed in the development. It just wasn’t clear from the press release if Belgravia initiated this or not.
I have not visited the units and I am not planning on doing so. I think it’s a horrible location. You’re the first person I’ve encountered that isn’t totally negative on the location. The only positive thing I have to say about it is that it hides the railroad tracks for a good portion of the street now.
Your original post, and this one, are both deeply misleading as to the positioning of these homes vis-a-vis the Dan Ryan. Only a few of the 35 homes have the proximity to the X-way that you suggest, and many of them are a fair distance from it.
If you’d actually visited the homes you’d also have seen the spectacular panoramic city views which are one of the advantages of being on these lightly-traveled tracks:
Huh???? I don’t see where I speculated on the history of the project at all. I simply raised a question. I found the wording of the press release confusing. And you are making way too much out of this LLC thing, as it has no bearing on the suitability of a property for a buyer. You are extrapolating from these two sentences to a conclusion about my researching properties. Do you think that is professional?
The fact that 30 people bought these is irrelevant. Developers have some incredible ability to get people to overpay for homes as is seen time and again when people try to resell. Let’s wait until the resales come in.
I think the fact that Belgravia/Union Row is a client of yours explains a lot of what is going on here.
You don’t see where you speculated on the history of the project? Just read what you said:
“I can’t believe that Belgravia even created this development in the first place. However, the press release says that the development was created by 16th and Union LLC and is managed by Belgravia so perhaps this is something that Belgravia took over or some investors came to Belgravia with this brilliant idea.”
If that isn’t speculation on the history of the project, what is it? Calling you to account for the plain meaning of your words is professional.
You contend that Belgravia’s involvement through an LLC “has no bearing on the suitability of a property for a buyer.” Are you serious? Belgravia’s lengthy track record of integrity and quality is one of the key elements of the value proposition for buyers.
Several of these homes are in the shadow of the Dan Ryan. Most aren’t. Have you seen the dozens of expensive single-family homes directly n the shadow of the Ryan at University Village, a few blocks away from Union Row? Or the multi-million dollar homes in the Ryan’s shadow in Bridgeport? Ever walk University Village / University Commons just a few blocks away and note how many 100s of units are directly on these same railroad tracks?
While you were shaking your head did you miss the park directly across from Union Row and wonder whether that might have some value to buyers? Notice the concentration of big box retailers a few blocks away? Stop in University Village along Halsted and Maxwell to check out the area?
I’ve disclosed my interest in this project. And my track record is transpaent – I do do my homework before speaking up and can back up what I say.
Rather than questioning my motives you should take a more careful look at how factually off base you are, how little you seem to know about the location, how little curiosity you’ve shown about any aspect of it, and how flawed your judgment of elements of the location might be. I might not drive by this location daily as you do, but I’ve spent hours and hours walking around it and talking to people who live there. Didn’t meet anyone who thinks it’s as “horrible” as you do.
I started by assuming that Belgravia created the development but held open the possibility that they didn’t. Call that speculation if you would like. It really doesn’t matter.
You need to read stuff more carefully before making comments. I didn’t say that Belgravia’s involvement was irrelevant to the suitability of the housing. I said that the use of an LLC was irrelevant.
As for your professionalism, it wasn’t your challenging what I said that hints at your lack of professionalism but rather your extrapolation that somehow I am not able to research properties.
I don’t think you are in any position to question my knowledge of University Village since I LIVE THERE and have listed and sold properties in both University Village and University Commons. No one wants to buy the University Commons units facing the tracks, Joe, except at huge discounts. And those million dollar homes on Emerald St…I just haven’t gotten around to commenting on them. I think those were a huge mistake. We’re already seeing short sales on that block. People who bought there are hosed. And then there are those townhomes at the southeast end of the development…same problem.
I’m going to bed now but I would be happy to pick this up in the morning.
I’m a night owl, Gary, so I’ll continue this now.
You “started by assuming that Belgravia created the development?” Who would have guessed that from what you said:
“I can’t believe that Belgravia even created this development in the first place. However, the press release says that the development was created by 16th and Union LLC and is managed by Belgravia so perhaps this is something that Belgravia took over or some investors came to Belgravia with this brilliant idea.”
I never suggested you aren’t able to research properties
1) I hope I can clear up what appears to be such an important point for you: “I can’t believe that Belgravia even created this development in the first place. However,…so perhaps…” What I’m saying there is that I’m surprised that Belgravia is the one that took on the Union Row project but I found it so surprising that I wanted to admit the possibility that maybe they didn’t start it. 2) It wasn’t really worth the the time to me to research the history of this project because it has 3 critical things wrong with it: location, location, location.
3) There’s a 4th thing wrong with it. My wife pointed out that it looks like low income housing.
4) That park that’s across the street from it…I had to make a special trip there this morning because in 2 years of driving by this place I’ve never seen it before. The reason is that 2/3 of the park is obscured by a vacant industrial building on one side and a weed covered vacant lot on the other side. However, a park in a bad location is better than no park in a bad location.
5) I agree that some people don’t mind bad locations. As I said in my original post “at the right price anything will sell”. Somebody lives in all those buildings that you can touch as you ride the el. Of course, when people visit from other places they don’t get it.
6) “Is this your typical approach to researching property or merely an aberration?” Sure sounds to me like you are suggesting I can’t research properties.
7) “Union Row has recently put significant price discounts in place. I don’t know how you can so confidently imply that these homes are a bad deal” Well, a significant discount on the remaining units sure sounds to me like the people that bought up to now will have to significantly discount their units if they want to sell. Q.E.D.
8) “Let’s get back to the main point here: your ill-informed post is a far more serious misrepresentation of the location of most of the Union Row homes than the purported omissions in the developer’s press release.” You have not demonstrated that there is anything materially ill-informed in my post nor have I misrepresented anything about the location. It sucks. And I never intended to indict the developer for omitting anything in the press release. I realize what the purpose of a press release is. I was merely pointing out the irony of them trying to sell the merits of the location.
Since it’s the title of your blog, how about “getting real?”
You blatantly and flagrantly misrepresented the location and continue to do so.
Despite your having stated that you drive by Union Row on almost a daily basis you used a 2-year old photograph to represent it.
Your photograph was taken at the far western end of the development, which extends nearly 800 feet east of the Dan Ryan.
If you stand at the far eastern end of the development, as I did when the photo below was shot last September, you have an entirely different view of the location and the proximity of the Ryan.
Watch my video, shot from the ground rather than a drive-by, where I start at the Ryan end and show the entire development. That’s how honest people present things, Gary.
Three entire (short) blocks separate your photo from mine. Three blocks, Gary. Three blocks that you say you drive on nearly a daily basis.
While you were driving those three blocks and shaking your head, did you bother to note that the 5 units that remain for sale (THE 5 units that are the subject of the press release that’s the basis for your post) are in the eastern half of the development? Nope
1) I maintain that the 2 year old photograph represents the location fine. I will attest to the fact that in the last 2 years the neither the Dan Ryan, the railroad tracks, nor the buildings have moved. If you would like you can research that yourself.
2) My photograph was also taken from the far eastern end of the development. Not sure why you think it was the west end. The Dan Ryan is clearly in the background.
3) Thanks for presenting yourself as paragon of honesty. I assume you are suggesting that I am somehow dishonest? If so, please provide evidence of that rather than making empty accusations. What exactly is the dishonest case I am trying to support?
4) Interesting how your photograph was taken at an angle that does not show the Dan Ryan or the railroad tracks.
5) The fact that the 5 remaining units are at the eastern end of the development is relevant how????
6) Please explain how you inferred “manic glee” from my statement about my wife’s opinion?
7) Not sure why you think that I don’t recognize that a buyer’s opinion counts for more than my own. Drawing a conclusion about how I conduct my business without observing it first hand…is that how honest people present things, Joe? Are you being accurate and objective? Have you taken the time to do some homework on how I conduct my business? Just last weekend I was with some buyers that explained that they were not concerned about buying a unit directly next to the Kennedy. My response to them was that as long as they received the appropriate discount for the location, which would reflect any discount they would take upon resale that they could get a bargain.
The subject of your post was the 5 units that remain for sale
Before I respond, would you care to also address my points 1, 6, and 7 from last night? Or do you concede those points?
Re-read my response, Gary.
I directly addressed 1 (repeatedly) and 7. How you operate here is relevant to how you conduct your business. You showed no awreness of or interest in how a buyer might view the 5 remaining units.
As to point 6, call it conceded if you wish. People can read what you said and wonder why it was said and in what spirit. Mean-spirited, in my take, i.e. unprofessional.
1) You did NOT address my point #1. You did not demonstrate how the fact that the photo I used is 2 years old is relevant to this debate.
2) You did not address my point #7, which is an indictment of how you jump to conclusions about how I run my business. The extrapolations you are making are far worse than any I have made regarding this development. My statements about this development are based upon pure fact.
3) Regarding my relaying my wife’s opinion of the development. Nothing mean spirited intended. I can phrase it differently if you like. I think the design is plain and boring, lacks architectural detail, and the dark brown and red siding looks like corrugated metal.
4) Speaking of mean spirited, Joe…You are one to talk. By your 4th comment above you launched into personal attacks without provocation. This is typical of your behavior on social media platforms – your own blog and Cribchatter. You also apparently had some issues on ActiveRain.
5) I don’t see how you can even begin to question where my photo was taken. The only way to have the Dan Ryan in the background and have the development on the left side is to be taking the photo from the east. And with something like 5 buildings visible on the left clearly I was standing fairly far east. I did not use a telephoto lense – a simple point and shoot digital camera.
6) So you seem to be suggesting that the 5 units on the eastern end are somehow more desirable than if they had been on the western end. Well, at that end the overpass directly north is higher and in more plain sight, and you have desolation to your east. If they are so much more desirable then why are they the last to sell and having to be discounted so much?
7) How did I miss the park? 2/3 of it is obstructed by an abandoned industrial building and vacant lots covered in weeds and not so very nice looking trees. You can only see it when you are at the head of that street that leads to it.
8) I clearly indicated in my original post that the price drops could in fact make a difference here and even opened up that question for others.
9) I questioned your photo because of how you introduced it “If you stand at the far eastern end of the development, as I did when the photo below was shot last September, you have an entirely different view of the location and the proximity of the Ryan.” Well, seeing how you shot it from an angle that doesn’t show the Ryan I can see how it does in fact provide a different view of the proximity of the Ryan.
10) You have failed to demonstrate that there is anything at all dishonest about my portrayal of the development.
11) I’d like to clarify your role in discussing real estate developments on social media platforms. You obviously are in the business of providing Internet marketing services to developers and you present your services to them in order to sell them. In the course of presenting your services to them do you suggest to them that you will monitor discussions of their developments on the Internet and engage in those discussions? This would not be unusual for a full service Internet marketer.
1. Ah, so your point # 1 is about the age of the photo. That was far from clear.
Dripping with sarcasm I’ll simply note that your photo shows a project that’s under construction. The project was completed some time ago. You understand full well how that distinction is relevant to a buyer. Would you use a 2-year old picture of an incomplete property 100s of feet away for one of your listings? Nope.
2. I’ve commented on how you’ve approached this development based on your own words here, not on how you “run your business.” Claiming that your statements about this development are “based upon pure fact” is laughable. Your statements are ill-informed opinion mixed with lazy speculation.
3. The development is actually executed in a rather sophisticated architectural idiom. If it’s not to your taste, that’s fine.
4. I’ve participated at length in many Internet venues as anyone can easily determine. I often defend the industry aggressively against unwarranted and ignorant attacks by people who have little or no familiarity with it or its participants.
I stopped participating in ActiveRain years ago because, at the time, it was a cesspool of real estate people using it as a venue to evade fair housing laws. I was very mean-spirited toward those people, since they undermine core values in our society.
Objectivity, thoroughness, attention to detail and accuracy are core values of true real estate professionals. If you consider my challenging your having failed to demonstrate those values in your post, and questioning whether that was your characteristic mode of operating, to be a personal attack, so be it.
5. What percentage of the development is visible in your photo? The answer: less than 20 percent
1) I appreciate the honest answer you provided regarding the services you provide. So basically you are paid, directly or indirectly, to debate Union Row with me.
2) I drove by the development again yesterday and concluded that my photo was taken before the eastern half of the development had been started. I simply walked to the eastern end and shot facing west. But I don’t really see how that is relevant to the thesis of my post unless you somehow believe that the location of the units remaining for sale is better than the location from which this photo was shot. I would maintain that they are not and that my photo above adequately reflects the location. My post is completely about the location, not the completeness of the development.
3) If you carefully read my post you will see that I make very few statements about this development other than the FACT that it is close to the overpass and railroad tracks and that I think the location sucks. I don’t see how you can possibly accuse me of misrepresenting anything.
4) You did comment on how you THINK I run my business: “Is this your typical approach to researching property or merely an aberration?”
5) In addition you apparently think that I am not a “responsible professional” because I have not thoroughly researched the location. However, the fact that this development is next to the overpass and railroad tracks, with views of additional overpasses to the north and east, on a decrepit post-industrial street is all I need to know. The fact that it has a park that is 2/3 obstructed from view that I have missed for 2 years says more about the park than it does about me.
6) No one can possibly analyze whether the price is right now or not. There are no comps. If it sells, then it is priced right.
7) What is it you want me to acknowledge about your video?
8) BTW, I love Cribchatter, despite it’s negative bias. I believe their challenges to the real estate industry and developer community is needed. I hate conventional wisdom.
1. In my first comment on this thread I said “Belgravia / Union Row is a client of ours.” My business and my identity on the Web are transparent.
Given my familiarity with Union Row I would have disputed you whether or not it was a client. Since I make my living from the industry I hate to see its better players unfairly bashed, client or not.
2. Again, (sigh!) the location of the units for sale is materially different than you represented, i.e. much farther away from the Ryan. You don’t think buyers would consider that, or its state of completion, relevant?
You’d made a point of your driving past it on almost a daily basis, and just now you notice that it’s expanded by 2/3?
You didn’t find it necessary to spend time on the ground and in the units to judge the importance of the tracks to the livability of the units?
3. Your photo misrepresents the location of the units for sale and you continued to insist on its relevance without checking.
4. A question isn’t a comment unless you choose to read it that way.
5. My comment was based on your having repeatedly ignored, even denied, relevant facts about the location.
Your “says more about the park” line is a complete laugher. It says nothing about the park but speaks volumes about your approach here.
The many, many responsible professionals I know get out of the car and walk the immediate area before judging a location. The park is fully visible from the north / south streets and from a number of vantage points on 16th.
6. No comps? You’re kidding, right? You don’t think an appraiser will find comps when these units sell?
7. The video makes it clear that your photo misrepresents the location of the units for sale.
Watching it would have made it clear to you that your photo was shot before the development was completed.
8. CribChatter’s negative bias strikes me as being perfectly in sync with yours, as you outline your view of the real estate business on your Web site.
In the long run in real estate facts weigh more heavily than attitude, and challenging the industry effectively requires first understanding it. And success comes from achieving competence, not from copping an attitude.
Wow…were I a developer paying for someone to comment positively on one of my projects, I really don’t think I’d want it done in the style on display here.
This reminds me of the restaurant owners/chefs who go on yelp to yell at people who dare question their food or the dining experience. It just comes off as sour grapes and a lack of understanding that this is the internet: cranks and opinionated people make it their home and are going to say unpleasant things from time to time. The best you can do is give a counterpoint, try to make past and prospective customers happy and move the heck on.
So face it, Joe: you lost. Not because your opinion is wrong or because this is a terrible development or because the location sucks. Rather, because you were willing to drag the development through the mud to prove a random internet opinion wrong. Getting into a pissing match with a guy who is just expressing his opinion is incredibly poor form and you never, ever end up looking good.
And, IMO, Gary *was* just expressing his opinion. He thinks the location sucks and was incredulous that a developer would even consider it, even giving them the benefit of the doubt regarding whose idea it was to start the project in the first place. You may have taken it as a back-handed shot, but I took it as him being gracious, in his own way.
There are numerous credible studies that show people who live close to congested expressways, rail yards, and coal fired powerplants are at an increased risk for all sorts of diseases. This development is right next to the second most congested expressway in the US. I cannot believe the City even allowed this to be developed for residential use. This development is Chicago
Continued from the last post: While not on the scale of say the railyard south of Midway airport, there is still considerable locomotive traffic on these tracks. And the development is only a mile or so from on Com Ed’s Fisk coal fired plant–most days downwind. Yea, people have been living around here for years. But should they? Are those interested in purchasing aware of the risks?
I am an architect that lives near this development and have friends that have purchased 3 of the units. They all have private yards measuring approx. 25′ x 75′ and amazing, guaranteed views of downtown. The are all happy.
As far as the location issues, they are always in the eye of the beholder…
IMO, Gary and his ilk on CC love to brag about their ‘expert’ opinions, yet the reality is always much more nuanced. All of this arguing and much of it on CC is only about egos and NOT about real estate.
Your entire original point was about Union Row’s proximity to the Dan Ryan overpass and the railroad tracks.
For my amusement I checked the proximity of your home address in University Village to the Dan Ryan overpass, using the Google Earth distance tool.
As a rough cut, about half of the Union Row units (including some of the ones that were the subject of your post) are further away from the Dan Ryan overpass than your home. According to Google Street View you have a crystal clear view of the Dan Ryan overpass each day if you head east in your car.
All of University Village
Let me address your last comments on where I live first, though the thought of you stalking me makes my blood run cold.
Though, my view of the Dan Ryan is the same as that from Union Row when I drive out of my development I don’t see how that is relevant. I only see it when I leave my development. At Union Row you walk out the front door or look out the back windows and you see the damn thing. When I walk out my front door all I see is other townhomes and well manicured green space.
From the unit I sold on the corner of Halsted and 14th the Dan Ryan occupies about 5 degrees of the field of view. From the back windows of Union Row I estimate that it is at least 45 degrees.
You are the master of comparing apples and watermelons, Joe.
My listing on 8th street is on the 21st floor so the el tracks aren’t that big of an issue. But, again, it’s apples and watermelons because the listing on 8th street is in an undisputed great location.
Now, I would never mention negative aspects of a property that I was trying to market, nor would I expect Belgravia to. My blog is part editorial and part entertainment and my closing sentence was focused on entertainment. BTW, I sincerely thank you for helping me fulfill the entertainment part of my mission.
But comparing my location to Union Row brings up another point – again thanks for helping me come up with more stuff. From my bedroom the train tracks in question take up about 5 degrees of the field of view. Actually, you can’t really see them because they are hidden behind some other structures. However, at both midnight last night and again at 5 AM I could hear the train blowing its horn. It’s faint because from where I sit the tracks are mostly blocked from me by midrises. However, this horn blowing has recently been more frequent or I just didn’t use to notice it. I just wonder what that sounds like over at Union Row, which is practically built on top of the tracks.
You raised the issue of where you live, Gary, to establish your knowledge of the area, thereby putting it in play. I learned what I learned from publicly available sources. The same sources that would have shown you the park you couldn’t see.
Your rap on Union Row was strictly about proximity to the Dan Ryan and the tracks, not field of view. As you finally got around to admitting you weren’t familiar with the full development despite having said you drive by it on almost a daily basis and despite the fact that it’s been completed for some time now.
I’ve been outside on higher floors of a high-rise just a block from your 21st floor 8th St listing, and I’ve repeatedly been on the ground at Union Row. The El at 8th St is far more of an audible and frequent presence than the train at Union Row. I’ve also repeatedly been inside the townhomes at Union Row, and the train was inaudible.
You really should get out of the car, Gary, and check out the units and the location and ask the owners about the location’s appeal. You might form a different opinion.
There’s nothing entertaining about snarking that a developer has been misleading when a simple search of YouTube would have shown you the contrary: any number of videos commissioned by the developer with the Ryan and the tracks clearly in view and commented on.
I doubt that Union Row owners, or the owners of the UV homes along the Dan Ryan and tracks, find your “it sucks” description of their location very entertaining either.
No, the “it sucks” part was editorial. I think your video actually does a pretty good job of highlighting the deficiencies of the location, with the exception of not showing how the development goes right up to the train tracks.
You might want to watch some of our other videos, shot with the developer’s project manager, directly overlooking the train tracks.
You can also see the views and the yards that people found appealing,, and see how litle of a presence the train is in the back yard.
I rarely if ever post on forums, but this has turned from comical to creepy. Gary thinks the location sucks, so what? I re-read the entire post and he was giving Belgravia the benefit of the doubt. I think he was hoping that Belgravia had more sense than to develop this area. Joe, he might live in the area, but to Google his address and then post about it comes across as very scary. He lives in the area, let’s leave it at that.
The thing that bothers me the most about this is that on your site, you state that the best way to judge Gary’s credibility is to read his “dishonest,repeated and willful ignorance of simple facts…” In reading the above post and at length comments, I don’t see any dishonesty by Gary. Just someone giving an opinion. You also claim another of his posts is an “unhinged rant” about an inspector. I think it is plain wrong to attempt to turn a disagreement about several subjects into slandering the other person’s reputation.
In both cases you have conflicts of interest. In this one, you work for Belgravia, in the other, you are a friend of the truly obnoxious and bullying inspector. I think all of us in the industry know exactly who this person is and would never want him on an inspection. I have always wondered, if he is so good, how many inspections does he do a year for Realtor’s buying their own place?
In reading these comments I have lost respect for Belgravia for hiring you to help market their property. In trying to advocate for your client you have succeeded in making them look bad! Oh, and while you are on the phone with Belgravia, you can tell them that their “signature” “waterfall” molding looks extremely tired!
If nothing else, the Gary and Joe show is high in entertainment value.
Personally, I think the location sucks.
I am a homeowner in this development. Both parties have some good points and it was a very entertaining way to spend 15 minutes of my morning. The location is not ideal, this much is clear. But I still cannot find the square footage, number of beds/baths, and other amenities for the price I paid – or even close. Location, location, location is what it boils down to when setting your pricing, but the prices have dropped (clearly) to a point where there are buyers – myself included. FYI – I live in a N/S oriented building and I rarely hear the trains and never hear the highway. Open up the windows? Different story. Gary does make a good point about the air quality issues, but I have news for you – if you live ANYWHERE in the metropolis, your air quality is only marginally better than mine. Besides – I live in the city of big shoulders and if I didn’t want to be around railroad tracks, el tracks, baseball fields, traffic, highways, etc. – I’d be best served to move to Elgin, perhaps.
Thanks for the comments. You very nicely put things in perspective as someone who lives there.