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High-end River North condo project goes worryingly quiet

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Vanishing listings, a dark sales center, and an expired website could signal the end for 808 Wells

The sales center for 808 Wells has been worryingly dark for some time
Jay Koziarz
Smithfield Properties/Berkelhamer Architects

While Chicago’s new condo market continues its slow thaw out of the deep freeze of the Great Recession, an ambitious project planned for the northwest corner of Chicago and Wells appears to have hit serious trouble. Known by its address of 808 Wells, the luxury development from Smithfield Properties and Berkelhamer Architects was set to rise 24 stories and contain just 45 well-appointed residences priced from just under $1 million up to $4.5 million. Units in the building first hit the MLS last summer as a one-story temporary sales center was erected at the site of the future residential high-rise.

In the months since sales reportedly began, all online listings have disappeared. The brick-and-mortar sales center has not been open during the indicated hours and a large billboard advertising 808 outside Chicago’s East Bank Club has been removed. Perhaps most indicative of trouble is a notification of an expired domain when trying to reach the project’s once functional website at 808wells.com. A call to the number listed on the sales center window was not immediately returned.

808 Wells’ advertisement at the corer of Kinzie and Kingsbury has been removed.
Google Street View

Delivering ultra-expensive condos at the corner of Wells and Chicago was always going to be a bit of an uphill battle thanks to the city’s still relatively sluggish new condo market and a location that was more on the edge of hot area rather than the middle of the action. To make matters worse, developer Smithfield Properties was dealt an additional blow by the sudden passing of founding partner Bill Smith in June.

While the apparent demise of the 808 Wells project is certainly unfortunate in its own right, the demolition of the site’s existing older buildings makes the situation sting that much more. Though not quite worthy of landmark protection, the structures destroyed at the corner of Wells and Chicago were nonetheless handsome and decent examples of the older style of architecture that is becoming increasingly scarce in River North.

The old buildings at 800-820 N. Wells Street were taken down to build a condo sales center for 808.
Google Street View