Check out this article from the Chicago Tribune on SCG’s Renaissance series:

By: Mary Ellen Podmolik, The Home Front

It’s only 32 units spread over four buildings, but a phased project in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood has received “good neighbor” kudos from the Chicago Association of Realtors for three consecutive years.

Most recently, the fourth phase of Renaissance on Kimbark was awarded the group’s highest honor, the Bruce Abrams Award, named for the deceased founder and president of the former LR Development.

Hanna Architects, Stonemason Group and Hasani Steele, an @Properties realty agent and development consultant, teamed up to deliver the first three buildings. Those phases were previously honored for helping to stabilize the neighborhood and filling in several vacant lots.

The fourth phase, constructed by Premium Builders, got the nod not only for the extra design touches put into the building but also for doing what seems undoable in the current environment: succeeding, and that’s not just because only three of the 32 units remain for sale.

What also worked for the project, according to Steele, was what he labeled “pricing integrity.” Priced at $249,900 to $349,900, the development offered financial assistance with closing costs but the units themselves were not discounted. That’s a different strategy from most developers in the current environment, who either have slashed prices, thrown in free cars at closing or rented units to recoup some of their investment.

Owners already in those type of developments have had to trade the comfort of knowing there’s someone in the neighboring units for the sobering reality that their home equity, and possibly their ability to refinance, has been compromised.

Steele, who for a time worked at CarMax, which boasts a no-haggle price on each vehicle, didn’t want to go that route. Instead, he wanted to educate buyers on what they were purchasing and why they were paying the prices they were.

“It appeals to a certain type of buyer,” Steele said. “I’d sit down with people and I’d say ‘this is the price,’ I’d say what you’re buying is not just an individual condo. What you’re buying here is partially like a partnership with the other people in the building. You’re buying into the ward’s vision.”

During the headier days of the housing market, when investors and homebuyers who thought of themselves as investors controlled the market, that sales approach might not have worked, he acknowledges.

“People didn’t care about the finishes because they thought they’d rent it out or they’d flip it,” Steele said. “We wanted to get people emotionally tied to the product, and they’d love it and they’d buy. People will go into debt for things if they genuinely love it.”

It’s a strategy that may get battle tested yet again. Another piece of land, this one 67 feet wide, may become a fifth phase of the development.

Source: “Pricing Integrity” Pays off for Developers Chicago Tribune (June 5, 2011)

Source: “‘Pricing Integrity’ Strategy Gets Homes Sold,” Realtor Magazine (June 6, 2011)

Click here for more information about the remaining Renaissance units.