The Rise of Sustainable Real Estate Development in Chicago

Chicago has seen a surge in the number of sustainable real estate developments. It’s a growing trend that can help save the environment and money in the long run. 

The city encourages developers to build green with sizeable grants and subsidies. It also supports individual homeowners who cash in for eco-friendly improvements.

Eco construction

The Rise of Sustainable Real Estate Development

With increasing interest from investors, owners, and tenants, the need to create more sustainable buildings is driving a new trend in Chicago. Known as “eco” construction, the focus is on reducing energy consumption and selecting materials that are environmentally friendly, thereby benefitting both the environment and your wallet.

Eco-construction includes using renewable and recycled materials. This reduces pollution and saves money in the long run because it reduces waste and the need to dispose of unused resources.

Sustainability also means that buildings are located in areas that don’t negatively affect the natural habitat or wildlife habitation, and sourcing materials as close to the site as possible helps avoid transportation impacts on the environment.

Whether in commercial or residential real estate, sustainable building practices can improve property values and increase ROI for investors and landlords. These initiatives can also enhance the overall reputation of a property.

Affordable housing

With the economy soaring and rent prices rising, many city residents are concerned about the affordability of their homes. Illinois hard money lender is playing a significant role in financing these projects, as they often involve innovative and unconventional building techniques. In fact, 7 in 10 city residents agree that Chicago lacks sufficient affordable housing units. 

Architects are working to address the gap through the development of multifamily and affordable housing. The Department of Housing recently reworked the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance to make it easier for developers to build affordable housing in gentrifying areas. A new competition called Come Home seeks designs that can be built in large numbers at low cost.

The Sweet Home Chicago Coalition, a group of community groups and labor unions, has been working with the city for almost two years to increase opportunities for developing affordable housing. One key element is the creation of tax increment financing districts, which allow local governments to redevelop blighted areas with frozen property taxes. A recent ordinance encourages developers to use TIF funds to redevelop multifamily rental buildings and create housing that people can afford below 80 percent of the area’s median income.


Resilience is a complex trait that involves the ability to respond to and overcome adverse or challenging circumstances in life. Psychological research shows that it can be learned and cultivated and is crucial to successful growth-promoting adaptation.

Resilient people are aware of their emotions and use this awareness to calm themselves and regulate their responses to adverse events. They also maintain a positive perspective and a sense of optimism even when facing setbacks.

A resilient material can return to its original state after bending or stretching. It can also bounce back from a hard blow like a rock or a tennis ball.

Resilience is also a characteristic that can be cultivated through social and community support, connection with others, and healthy lifestyle choices. Getting enough sleep, eating a nutritious diet, and exercising regularly are good ways to strengthen physical resilience.

Energy efficiency

The city’s booming real estate industry in Chicago is fueling energy efficiency trends. Environmental advocates say that building owners are enlisting city programs and incentives to cash in on the financial perks of going green.

The city’s Retrofit Chicago program aims to challenge building owners to reduce whole-building energy use by 20%. The city also offers long-term financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements through C-PACE. This public-private partnership allows commercial and multifamily property owners to obtain financing for green building upgrades and repay the money through assessments on their property tax bill.

Energy-efficient building standards reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and utility bills for residents and property owners. They can be triggered at different points in the life cycle of a building, including during construction or renovation and upon a building’s sale or lease. In addition, they can be enforced through a series of inspections and certifications.

Expert Insights on Chicago Real Estate Investment – Risks and Rewards

Understanding the risks and advantages of investing in Chicago real estate is crucial. This requires thorough research on investment sponsors, critical assets, value-add projects, and opportunistic investments. When you comprehend these factors, you can make intelligent, lucrative investments.

Key Assets

Both core and value-added real estate assets are viable possibilities for investors. Update value-added investments typically require a more considerable amount of capital. On the other hand, core properties usually have lower costs, more vital cash flow, and less volatility.

Core transactions are ideal for passive investors seeking a long-term investment with a stable cash flow. Although there are no guarantees, they have the potential to generate better returns than the average bond or stock investment. Additionally, they are more liquid and possess a lower risk profile.

Core real estate investments are leased to tenants of superior caliber. These assets typically attract market-beating rentals. Moreover, they are situated in prime locations and have reliable occupancy rates.

Core plus properties require minimal maintenance and can be modernized. However, they may demand a more incredible amount of investment to modernize or stabilize the tenant pool.

The normal holding period for core real estate assets is five to ten years, and they can provide dependable cash flows. This investment kind is relatively simple to sell. It is also an excellent option for passive investors seeking a more extraordinary dividend.

Value-Add Projects

In Chicago’s real estate market, value-added upgrades are a fantastic method to improve houses. By refurbishing older buildings, multifamily developers can capitalize on the market’s unmet demand and attract residents ready to pay extra for amenities outside the apartment itself.

A project with added value delivers an optimal balance of risk and profit. To realize its potential, the property must be appropriately maintained and managed. Nonetheless, this strategy entails the risk that the asset will underperform.

As a result, most value-add projects require capital to achieve changes. These enhancements increase the building’s net operating income and add to its total worth. These enhancements often involve medium to high leverage.

Investing in value-added projects necessitates extensive due diligence to estimate the impact of upgrades on the entire NOI. Most investors seek a return on investment of at least 20 percent when investing.

Unit renovations and capital enhancements to common areas are two of the most popular types of value-added expenditures. Typical renovations include replacing carpeting in hallways, modernizing the fitness facility, and resurfacing the pool deck.

Opportunistic Investments

Real estate initiatives with a higher risk profile than core real estate are opportunistic investments. These projects must be done before there is typically cash flow. Nonetheless, they can provide returns more significant than 18%.

Unlike investors in core real estate, opportunistic investors have a more significant stake in the project. They can be required to supervise building and marketing. The procedure can take years, depending on the sort of opportunistic investment.

Opportunistic investors must typically borrow substantial sums of debt to construct a project because there are hard money lenders in Illinois that offer a variety of options for investors. The sponsor naturally intends to sell the asset for a profit.

Some opportunistic funds concentrate on purchasing and repositioning structures. Repositioning entails buying and renovating a previously abandoned property. Depending on the circumstances, this can be lucrative. It is also an effective method for eliminating losses-to-lease.

Another example of an opportunistic investment is the notion of build-to-rent. Because they allow for continued appreciation and cash flow, transactions of this nature can yield outstanding profits.

Do your due diligence on investment sponsors. When choosing Chicago real estate investment sponsors, there are several important factors to consider. The first is that selecting a sponsor with a stake in the outcome is essential. That means they have a financial interest in the project, which will push them to perform effectively.

Experience is also an essential factor to consider. They should have at least ten years of industry experience. Additionally, search for a sponsor that is a skilled communicator. This will enhance the credibility of their reports.

A strong sponsor should also have a history of generating regular profits. Investors can request references from investors who have previously invested with the sponsor.

Their fee structure, which should be significantly weighted toward back-end success, is another factor to examine. In addition, they should have a comprehensive and timely reporting system.

In addition, sponsors should have a solid grasp of the real estate market and the specific niche they are targeting. They may need help to implement new strategies if they do.