Bucktown (Chicago) condo site faces foreclosure
Crains Chicago Business
By Andrew Schroedter
December 30, 2009
A Chicago condo developer who recently criticized aggressive price cutting by rivals faces two foreclosure suits totaling $6.8 million.
William Senne had proposed a 94-unit condominium project in the city’s trendy Bucktown neighborhood. Called EcoLogic Lofts, the proposed “green” building was to feature a rooftop garden, recycling stations and power-producing wind turbines.
It could not be determined how many units were sold, but Mr. Senne, CEO of Chicago-based Senco Properties Inc., didn’t obtain construction financing and never broke ground at the site, near Fullerton, Damen and Elston avenues.
His lender, Wheatland Bank of Naperville, says he defaulted earlier this year on two loans related to the project at 2339-59 N. Seeley Ave., according to foreclosure complaints filed Dec. 8 in Cook County Circuit Court.
A message left for Mr. Senne was not returned. He drew attention several months ago when he blasted rival developers for cutting prices to lure buyers in a down market.
“Senne is incensed at a growing list of neighboring developers who have auctioned units, slashed prices, sacrificed amenities or gone rental after selling a few units at full price,” read a Sept. 9 press release promoting Emerald, his completed 212-unit project in the West Loop.
Emerald is about 70% sold, a project spokeswoman says.
One observer says timing is to blame for EcoLogic’s troubles, not the cost of the units.
“It doesn’t matter how fabulous the project was,” says Gail Lissner, a vice-president at Appraisal Research Counselors, a Chicago-based consulting firm. “Nobody could get a deal going” last year when EcoLogic was launched.
In the larger of the two foreclosure complaints, Wheatland Bank says Mr. Senne stopped making payments in March on a $5.1-million loan, triggering a default. He now owes $5.4 million on that mortgage and $1.4 million on a second loan from Wheatland that he stopped paying in July, according to the complaints.
The bank says he personally guaranteed both loans.
Mr. Senne used the smaller loan, with an original amount of $1.36 million, to finance the May 2007 acquisition of a one-story building at 2023 W. Fullerton Ave., which houses the EcoLogic sales center. The property cost $1.6 million, according to public records.
A lawyer for Wheatland declined to comment.
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