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Chicago Luxury Condo Development Foreclosed & Sold

Developers purchase project from Lehman Brothers

December 12, 2003


An Atlanta developer has taken control of the unsold units in a near south side Chicago luxury condominium foreclosed on by Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

The Radco Companies will take over Prairie House, a 187-unit high rise of luxury condos and townhomes, in a deal with Lehman described as an "amicable ...stock transaction," according to a statement from Radco.

Buyers have closed on 102 units with 17 more closings scheduled through late December, Radco said in the statement.

It has been reported that just 66 of the units have actually been sold to date.

Lehman, a New York investment bank, did not return phone calls to comment. Specific terms were not announced.

"Prairie House has all the makings of an outstanding community, with a great location near the Near South lakefront, an attractive price point and a committed group of existing homeowners," Radco President Norman Radow said in the statement.

"We are excited about this property and are anxious to demonstrate to the marketplace that Prairie House is one of the area's most noteworthy developments," Radow said.

According to The Chicago Tribune, Lehman held the auction Dec. 9 after Bejco Development Corp. of Chicago, the developer of the 14-story building, failed to pay off $49 million in loans and accrued interest that was due Oct. 31 to Lehman and construction lender National City Bank.

Bejco, which could not be reached to comment, reportedly received no payment in the deal but did cooperate with the transaction.

"Bejco Development acquiesced to the sale of its stock and is cooperating with Radco in an orderly transaction," Radco said in its statement.

Lehman was the mezzanine lender and must still pay off the construction loan on the property, according to the paper.

The deal marks the second time in the last three months that Radco took over a Chicago residential property after Bejco defaulted on a loan.

In September, Radco assumed control of RiverBend, also a downtown Chicago high-rise condo building.

"The situation at Prairie House is similar to the one Radco inherited at RiverBend, where sales and construction had ground to a virtual halt when Radco took over on Sept. 4," Radco said.

"Since then, Radco has rallied the RiverBend homeowners association, restarted construction, initiated new advertising and marketing, redecorated model homes and common areas and sold $13 million worth of real estate," the developer said.

The Tribune also reported that National City holds a $4.4 million loan that was due Oct. 31 on the site of a planned Bejco project, the 23-story condo Prairie Tower. The developer told the paper it was negotiating an extension of the loan and was hoping to arrange financing "shortly."

Radco, founded in 1994, describes itself as a "boutique real estate company specializing in development, marketing, investment advisory services and management of luxury condominiums."

It developed the Four Seasons Hotel and Condominiums in Atlanta and Grandview on the Common in Boston.

Patrick Crowley is a political reporter and columnist and former business writer for The Cincinnati Enquirer. Email Patrick at: [email protected]

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