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Curbed Awards 2012: The Buildings!

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Hear, hear! It's time for Curbed's end-of-the-year awards presentation. We scoured our 2012 back issues to confidently reward standout buildings of the year (both successes and flops). Subjectivity reigns, but every building on the list has at least been a newsmaker. Won't you join us?

Biggest Draw— For this, we're gonna have to the crown the 250-unit luxury apartment development known as 1225 Old Town. Boasting some of the highest rents per square foot of any building in town ($1,620 to $5,251), the six-month-old Hines Interests development is already north of 85% leased. Location, location, location. And a splash of amenities. Next up, Plum Market construction at street level.

Biggest Flop— We're tempted to say Wolf Point, owing to its embarrassing setback, but the fact that such a monster plan is even being debated (and will likely happen, sooner or later) is significant. Our nod for big flop thus goes to McCaffery's defeated Children's Memorial redevelopment plan. The multi-site, multi-acre proposal called for three residential towers, low-rise development, and 160,000+ square feet of retail. Three years' worth of public meetings—50 of them!—amounted to a hill of beans for McCaffery as Ald. Michelle Smith came out in opposition to the latest scheme. Smith cited a "consensus that the plan is simply too dense." That doesn't necessarily torpedo the project, but it does send a weary developer back to the drawing board.

Best New Highrise— bKL Architecture's Coast at Lakeshore East may just edge out David Hovey's Optima Center for sharpest high-rise design. At least that's how we're playing it. Optima Center's contrasted glass shading and cantilevering are promising, but we lose interest with the sheer facade. Coast has texture and elegance and pairs well with the taller Aqua to the south. It's also more substantial than Optima, at 49 stories and 499 apartments. And it closes a gap in Lakeshore East's highrise wall. The tower is cruising along toward mid-winter completion.

Trend of the Year— Apartment construction and acquisition, particularly downtown, was a dominant trend in 2012. With news this morning of Fifield Cos' $302M sale of Alta at K Station, it's evident that apartment buildings are coveted investments. That's the highest price landed for a rental tower since early 2011. Others are in the buying and selling game too, like Crescent Height's Central Station maneuvers. There are too many large construction projects to list, but here's a few notables: Coast, Optima, 500 N LSD, Summit on Lake, 360 W Hubbard, AMLI River North, and, naturally, 1225 Old Town. Another trend gaining momentum in the last few months is the return of small and medium-sized condo development. Look out, 2013!

1225 Old Town

1225 North Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60610 Visit Website