THE SHORE — Lake Michigan is one of Chicago real estate’s best-kept secrets. But was not until this winter that some savvy developers jumped at the chance to build the city's next skyline on the thin sheet of ice.
The new project, dubbed “The Ice District” is only the first of many new projects to take advantage of all this new “land” created by the winter.
“Lake Michigan is a very hot area right now, real-estate speaking. Temperature-speaking, it’s very cold,” explained Hew McDonough, 44, a real estate investor involved in the project. The enthusiasm is evident in the many false starts this project has endured in the past year. Construction on top of Lake Michigan began in earnest back in September, but was halted almost immediately for reasons that, “in hindsight, were extremely clear,” McDonough admits. “We learned from that experience.”
On Thursday, crews and machinery glided onto the frozen-over Lake Michigan to begin construction on what investors hope will be a permanent addition to the cityscape. By mid-February, developers will have completed apartments, restaurants, and even an Apple Store. “We’re building a community that will last,” says Rayn Haven, 52, a lead investor on the project. “You see a frozen body of water, I see prime real estate.” The new apartments will boast a quick, if slippery, commute to the Loop, and of course unparalleled access to Lake Michigan.
When asked what will happen when the lake is not frozen, investors were caught off guard. “Honestly, I never really thought of that possibility,” said Shaney LaDue, 49, a high-profile investor in the project. “I’ll be honest, I saw dollar signs and I pounced. I think it’s gonna work—I reserved my condo as soon as I could. Plus, I’m only in town during the winter months, so I won’t need it when the lake is water.”
“I’m as excited as any mayor would be with an expansion like this,” says Lori Lightfoot, Chicago mayor (and resident). “It will revitalize our barren ‘lake’ district.” Suffering from millions of years of neglect from municipal services, the Lake Michigan neighborhood is Chicago’s poorest, least populated, and by far the wettest. Residents hope this new pr