For more than 20 years, the former Riddell football helmet factory sat vacant, yet was directly adjacent to one of the more desirable locations in Chicago: Old Irving Park. The contrast of a walkable, family oriented neighborhood to an abandoned factory, separated by only one city street, was striking.
Ranquist Development saw many of the vital ingredients necessary for a design-forward single family home project. Old Irving is a neighborhood on the rise; with an established community of homeowners and a renewed shopping and retail district. It's close to downtown Chicago, with immediate access to a Metra line.
Ranquist has built a reputation from developing similar projects in other neighborhoods which offer high design and function, at an attainable price, for today's sophisticated buyer. Basecamp SFH represents the best in this new trend of urban development, setting the example for what future projects can do for neighborhoods. This is absolutely the most exciting time to be in Chicago’s Old Irving Park neighborhood.
We took a peek into the developers’ minds and discovered even more about why Basecamp SFH offers an unrivaled home buying opportunity for forward thinking home buyers.
Q&A with the Developers
What does “adding gravity to neighborhoods” mean to a new homebuyer?
Gravity means momentum. For us, this is about building a project that sparks momentum in a neighborhood to evolve and develop and ultimately become an amazing place to live. A project like Basecamp SFH provides the spark, the residents take care of the rest.
Why Basecamp SFH instead of condominiums?
When you really think about it, condos can be a real nightmare for buyers. Maybe it’s called Fee Simple for a reason. Single family homes at Basecamp SFH offer more space, more yard, more land, and more bedrooms for the same price as a condo in Logan Square, Bucktown or Lakeview…all without all of the headaches and expenses of a condo association, noisy neighbors, and the risk of special assessments.
What are some of the custom options that make Basecamp unique?
Our kitchens are custom designed by an award winning Chicago architect and are locally manufactured. They are Danish modern inspired with interesting ledges, custom pulls, and layouts that are totally unique to these homes. This is where we try to separate our projects from the competition. A vast majority of developers in Chicago are complacent when it comes to taking design risks. We take the risk because it gives our buyers a big reward. Ranquist has built a reputation for taking exactly these risks and garnering a strong following.
The houses are fairly close to the Metra line, what extra steps have you taken to reduce the train noise?
Our windows facing the train have a beefed up STC rating, which basically means it’s going to be very quiet. We feel the train is a huge advantage for the project. Getting downtown, or out to the suburbs quickly, and car-less, is just one of the projects great advantages. Bolstering productivity, reducing stress, saving money, and helping the environment are certainly positive benefits.
How did the design of the project evolve?
To us, “design” means not just aesthetics, but also utility, value and function for the user. The project was originally designed by a previous owner to be very traditional inside and out. The spaces, as previously designed, didn’t function properly for modern, urban families.
We opened up living spaces, created larger window openings, and created more volume of space with higher ceilings. Basecamp SFH homes have more light into the finished lower levels. We think a modern, gabled home with a Danish modern kitchen looks pretty sharp. The look doesn't really exist in Chicago in a project of this size. But if you follow architecture, you know modern, gabled homes elsewhere are having their moment right now. But we start with function. Function always trumps aesthetics, in a new home.
Why are these new homes such a great value?
Single family homes at Basecamp SFH offer more space, more yard, more land, and more bedrooms for the same price as a condo in Logan Square, Bucktown or Lakeview. Basecamp SFH homes are new… and nothing beats new.
Can you tell us more about “transit oriented development”, and why the trend is important to a new home buyer?
The basic concept of Transit oriented development, or TOD, is to enact zoning which allows more density in close proximity to mass transit, which causes a ripple effect...creating more walkable, thriving neighborhoods with a mix of residential, retail, office and education. It’s meant to reduce traffic and improve the environment, and connect neighbors on a more local level. (For any of the aspiring urban planners out there, TOD’s in theory are not the same as theories of new urbanism.)
Basecamp SFH is in a TOD zone, with direct access to a Metra train, and just a short 8 min walk the CTA Blue Line. We just got a new Divvy Station installed as well, about 100ft from the project. The homes at Basecamp SFH were designed to be smaller, more efficient dwellings to remain affordable, yet without sacrificing room count, lifestyle or aesthetic.
Simply put, with the TOD at Basecamp SFH, you get more bang for your buck.
Can a buyer customize a floor plan above and beyond what is offered on the website?
Yes, of course. We have the ability to tailor these homes to the needs of every buyer.
Can a home buyer expect to see more development north of the project site?
Yes, and that’s a good thing. More retail and neighborhood amenities, and more residential is in the works. The city is growing and becoming less affordable every day. Old Irving and the surrounding neighborhoods still offer a great value without sacrificing on location. Old Irving Park is a hidden gem, 10-15 minutes from everything Chicago has to offer, yet is still extremely affordable in comparison to other established north-side neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Bucktown or Logan Square.
What are some of your favorite aspects of the Old Irving Park neighborhood?
We just love all of the awesome new concepts opening in the neighborhood which will join Old Irving Brewery, Community Tavern, Bread + Wine, and Smoque.
Plus, there is new retail planned for Old Irving’s six corners. These conveniences, along with one of the most walkable, prettiest residential neighborhoods being right across the street, make Basecamp SFH very compelling,
The new homes are quickly selling. Do you have any fully finished units available for folks who need to move quickly?
Yes! For the Spring 2017 market, we had 9 finished model homes, fully upgraded and ready for move in. As of early February, we've already sold 2. Only 7 remain, form $450K to $600K. We planned for this folks who need to move more quickly.
(You can view a list of finished homes here.)
Milwaukee Ave. is so crowded and congested further south in Logan Square, and there seems to be no end in sight. How is it different in Old Irving?
The community groups in Old Irving, and the alderman, would never allow the type of density and residential rental development that has been approved in Logan Square. It’s different in Old Irving Park, and the community is committed to its open space, and the friendly feel of its neighborhood.
How are the martinis at the The Booze Hound, also walking distance?
I’ve heard the martinis are terrible. In fact, they may ask you to leave if you order one. But the selection of craft beer is very strong, yet inexpensive. Plenty of brown liquor, served with a smile. It’s a great, local dive bar with a lot of character.
How do you and your partners choose sites?
We look at neighborhoods where people are pioneering in where they choose to live or open businesses. We also stay close to public transportation. We follow the artists, creative people, and entrepreneurs and keep an eye on where new concepts locate in the food and beverage arena. Old Irving Park has all of this going on, yet was still very much under the radar. It felt exactly right.
So far, who are your buyers? New families? Older couples moving back to the city?
We are getting people of all stripes and age. They are coming from pricier neighborhoods looking for more space. They care about design, and our buyers want things that are well made and thoughtful. They also care about community. They like the idea of being a part of something new, something up and coming, yet nestled in an established part of town. It’s very rare to find that critical mass of like-minded people all wanting the same thing, yet from very different backgrounds.
Are there any other developments like Basecamp in Chicago?
Not really. Inspiration was gathered from the West Coast, specifically this project in LA called Blackbirds. There's also this cool project in Austin we just came across. Both are designed using new zoning rules for greater density, but serve urban families, like Basecamp SFH. However, Basecamp SFH is unique to Chicago, and we’re proud of what is going on there.
How is the unique architecture of Basecamp helping to rejuvenate the Old Irving Park neighborhood?
Well, we’re not done with the project yet, and of course time will tell, but we hope that it will inspire more people to see the potential of Old Irving Park as it goes through some interesting, progressive transformations. It feels good to know your neighborhood reflects your values. Architecture is a big part of that. We hope Basecamp SFH can provide exactly that kind of confirmation for years to come.
This is a really convenient location. Can you tell home buyers more about the location as it relates to commuting times to the loop, O’Hare, and the Lakefront?
Whether you do Metra, CTA, Uber, or your own car. Expect a 10 to 20-minute commute downtown, to the many fortune 500 companies along the suburban train line, to the lake, or O’Hare. Remember also that within walking distance you have some really great food + bev options, grocery, Walgreens and other amenities right in the neighborhood.
With ‘Green’ initiatives becoming increasingly important to home buyers, how are you addressing energy efficiency in design and architecture at Basecamp?
Green design reached its tipping point with the development community as a whole a while ago. We enable green design whenever we can in every aspect of our projects because the market demands it and is willing to pay for it. Regulations require it. Low VOC paint, carpeting, energy efficient appliances, HVAC and windows. Sustainable materials. It’s just an assumed way of building now.
For this specific project, we’re going above and beyond, and setting the example for the future. The framing and above-grade structural components of the homes are panelized offsite, and delivered ready for assembly onsite. This leads to less waste and less garbage hauled off site. We can deliver a finished home more quickly, reducing costs, which we pass along to the buyer. Plus the materials actually have less defects when built offsite in a climate controlled facility.
The 4-acre land site was designed to be environmentally sensitive in many ways, which is also above and beyond most other projects. We recycled concrete from the demolished old industrial building and use the recycled concrete as structural fill for the new roads and alleys. The alleys have permeable concrete that acts as an underground reservoir for storm water. Slowing down storm water from going back into the city system reduces the chances of a storm water release into the lake. We splashed the downspouts of our homes, instead of tying them into the storm system, for the same reason.
We created as many soft landscaping areas, including our private park, as possible. This all adds up to a significant improvement for the environment.
What can people do who are interested in seeing homes at Basecamp?
Register with us, and schedule a time to visit the project!