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Monday, April 14, 2008

Keen interest in The Chicago Sphires

Savills Rahim & Co manages to close a few sales at the launch

The guest list at the Kuala Lumpur launch of The Chicago Spire at the Mandarin Oriental on April 2 comprised the who's who in Malaysia, with members of the royal family, corporate bigwigs and politicians eager to know more about the world's tallest exclusively-residential building.

Selling agents Savills Rahim & Co which hosted the launch closed a few sales that day. “We're confident of having five buyers, possibly more soon. This (number) is quite big to be sold in KL for such a high-end property,” said Savills Rahim & Co chairman Datuk Abdul Rahim Rahman.

Indeed, at a lofty height of 150 floors and soaring 2,000 ft (609.6m), The Chicago Spire is higher than the current world's tallest building, the Taipeh 101. It is also taller than the Petronas Twin Towers, at one time the tallest buildings in the world. The Burj Dubai at 2,500 ft currently under construction will take the crown. Penang Hill is 2,723ft above sea level.

If you are the proud owner of The Chicago Spire, you may feel that your “castle in the sky” deserves the accolade of the world's most prestigious residential address. In fact, it is already hailed as the world's “most significant residential development.”

With the rest of the world literally at one's feet, it may be difficult for the lucky owners to suppress that “high and mighty” feeling, as their residences spiral over bustling Chicago that is bidding to host the 2016 Olympics. The city has the 19th largest economy in the world with a GDP of US$423bil in 2005.

Although The Chicago Spire commands a premium price over other condominiums in Chicago, the price from US$800,000 for a suite or from US$1.35mil for a one-bedroom apartment is not an issue with astute investors who know a good investment property when they see one. A two-bedroom apartment is priced from US$1.65mil while a penthouse at US$40mil!

Units range in size from 534 sq ft (49.61sm) to 10,293 sq ft (956.25sm) for a duplex penthouse with 360-degree views.

Situated on a 2.2-acre site where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan, The Chicago Spire is developed by Ireland's Shelbourne Development Group.

Construction began in June 2007. When completed in the fourth quarter of 2011, it will have 1,194 residences where no two apartments are alike. Each suite, gallery and one to four bedroom residences and penthouse will offer a unique floor plan and outstanding city or lakefront views, each designed by Spain's renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. His projects include the Turning Torso Tower in Sweden, Olympic Complex in Greece and the City of Arts and Sciences in Spain.

The Chicago Spire will boast many firsts. Besides being the tallest condominium in the world, it is also the tallest building in North America and the western world. It will also be the most slender super-tall building in the world and will have the world's longest elevator run at 1,864 ft (568.14m). Elevators will transport all residents from the ground floor directly to their floor with average waiting time of 30 to 32.5 seconds.

Since the first sales launch in Chicago on Jan 14 this year, the project had been on a global road show. More than 800 investors attended the recent launch in Singapore and Savills Singapore managing director Michael Ng had reported that “very strong sales were coming from both Singaporeans and expatriates.”

With the US in recession and the credit crunch, will The Chicago Spire fetch an early capital appreciation?

Savills & Co's Abdul Rahim believes that the US economy would recover after the presidential election in November and the subprime mortgage crisis would have tailed off by then.

“Business is booming in Malaysia. We have a growing wealthy middle and upper class, many of them have children studying in North America and many of them have spread their investments over international markets. We are confident the iconic and futuristic nature of the Chicago Spire will have a special appeal to our purchasers and the potential return on investment is very competitive,” he said.

Purchasers, he said, needed only pay a US$20,000 booking fee followed by a 10% deposit after 14 days and another 5% within six months and there would be no more progress payments until the project's completion. “There is a very high probability of purchasers enjoying capital appreciation when the project is completed,” he said, adding that buyers would enjoy a 7.5% guaranteed return for two years.

Shelbourne Development Ltd executive chairman Garrett Kelleher in an e-mail interview said historically, Chicago had not been subjected to the highs and lows of more volatile markets and it had seen sustained growth over 10 years.

He said interest outside the United States had been strong with international investors recognising the opportunities offered in investing in one of the world's major iconic projects.

“We have been overwhelmed by the interest in the project and we are currently on target with our sales. Located on the last available prime spot on the lake, The Chicago Spire's position offers a unique opportunity for buyers,” he said, adding that at US$40mil, the penthouse would be the most expensive apartment in Chicago.

By The Star - Property Talk - (by S.C.Cheah)

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