I love cool real estate projects. Cool projects are why I became a lawyer. Cool projects are why I come to the office each day. Cool real estate projects are why I did not become an astrophysicist (well, one reason – although, that might have been cool too). Cool projects are the reason I live, smile, dance, breath, scour the earth for new deals, jump for joy.
And by “cool”, I don’t mean in a thermal sense – but rather in a “this project is so cool” sense. I am referring to real estate projects that are awesome. Real estate projects that are fun. Real estate projects that make you say “Wow – what a cool project!”
Cool projects don’t need to be costly projects in major urban centers – although those can be cool too. I’m talking about projects that are creative. Projects that require vision and imagination. Projects that take something mundane and turn it into something special.
Some people think I only like huge projects. To be honest, I do like huge projects, but largely because the huge projects I have worked on also happened to be cool projects.
Redevelopment of the commercial portions of Marina City in downtown Chicago was a cool project. Ground-up development of Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois was a cool project. Work on various mixed-use projects around the Midwest and upstate New York have been cool projects. But so has been the much smaller development of an 8,000 square foot microbrewery in the historic Motor Row District of Chicago using TIF financing; development of countless restaurant and entertainment venues throughout the Midwest; conversion of a multi-story industrial building into a high-tech office center; conversion of an outdated office building into a stylish, luxury hotel; adaptive reuse of outdated retail strip centers, bank buildings, city and suburban office buildings, bowling alleys, warehouses, industrial buildings, gas stations, and various small to medium sized special purpose buildings into modern, fully functional jewels – reinvented to provide much needed retail and service amenities for local neighborhoods and communities. It is not the size of the project that makes it cool – or the cost – it is the concept, imagination and creative challenge involved that makes the difference. At least for me.
Cool Projects Test
Here’s a test [call it the “Cool Projects Test”, if you will]:
Which of the following projects is more likely to end up on Kymn Harp’s list of cool projects?
Project Choice No. 1:
a. Developing a stand-alone bank building on a commerical outlot?
b. Converting an historic firehouse into an upscale restaurant and wine bar with take-out bakery?
Project Choice No. 2:
a. Developing a 196 unit apartment complex on a large vacant lot?
b. Redeveloping a former 3-story Main Street department store into a mixed-use project with first floor restaurants, sidewalk cafés, first floor retail, a side street residential lobby, apartments on the 2nd and 3rd floors, and a rooftop sundeck and fitness center?
Project Choice No. 3:
a. Developing a stand-alone strip shopping center?
b. Developing retail shops within the underutilized first floor and lower level pedway serving an existing hotel/convention center?
Project Choice No. 4:
a. Developing a multiplex movie theater?
b. Converting a former multiplex movie theater into a multi-tenant, specialty entertainment center with intimate live music venues, restaurants, an art gallery, and ethnic-focused shopping boutiques to serve a growing ethnic population in the surrounding community?
Project Choice No. 5:
a. Developing a national chain pharmacy on a corner lot?
b. Redeveloping a former church as a music and theatrical venue with a restaurant, music store and gift shop?
Project Choice No. 6:
a. Developing a new suburban office tower?
b. Coordinating economic redevelopment of a suburban downtown business district to transform a stagnant center of town into an affluent Millennial-friendly live-work-play lifestyle environment?
Project Choice No. 7:
a. Developing an industrial/office park?
b. Developing a multi-user sports and entertainment complex with restaurants, retail and parking?
Which Project Choices listed above qualify as “cool projects”? Not everyone will agree. There is no absolute, right answer. And don’t get me wrong, if a client walked through my door with any of these projects, I would be happy to jump on-board. But, the truth is that – in a perfect world, if given a choice – I would choose Project Choice “b” every time.
Why? There is just something exhilarating about taking tired, underutilized or functionally obsolete properties and reinventing them as revitalized developments that make users say: “WOW – what a cool project!”
Cool projects require a lot of planning, legal insight, and specialized due diligence to make sure a successful transformation can be achieved, but the value-added turnaround can be long-lasting and well worth the effort.
I am always on the hunt for cool projects. I enjoy working with all my clients, but my favorite clients are investors, developers and business owners with creative vision, who can imagine the future, and make it happen.
Not every project I work on is a cool project. As a real estate lawyer, I work on the deals that clients bring me. Some projects are just good investments waiting to be built. I’m fine with that. There is nothing wrong with building projects that just serve a need. I endorse the concept, and am always glad to help, so give me a call. I am at your service.
But . . ., for sure if you are contemplating a cool project – please stop whatever else you are doing, pick up your phone and call me. My direct line is 312-456-0378. Let’s talk. My partners and I can help you get it done – and, I assure you, we can each have a blast doing it.
There is no rush quite like the rush of like minds working together in sync, with skill and creativity, to move a cool project forward, from concept to completion. I would love to be part of your team.
Thanks for listening.