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Encore in Old Town
New Homes Magazine
by Dan Schuyler 2/16/04

“I love Italian; everything Italian has such a nice flair."

So says Robert Mosky, referring to the Neapolitan, the new highrise he built at 1212 N. Wells, in Old Town, with Albert Kocemba, his partner in RDM Development, www.rdmhomes.com.

The 18-story Italianate condo tower added a new architectural flavor to the neighborhood, Mosky says, and buyers responded with a clamor for more.

“I kept getting calls asking if there were any units left at the Neapolitan," Mosky says.

And not being a believer in dolce far niente, Mosky soon responded to the bravissimos, unveiling the Venetian, a 16-story condominium building now nearing completion at 222 W. Division, around the corner from the Neapolitan.

The VenetianDesigned by architects Hartshorne & Plunkard, the Venetian continues the Italian theme introduced to Old Town by the Neapolitan, though the new building is hard to fit into any particular category.

“There really is no single style which defines the Venetian," says Hartshorne & Plunkard architect Paul Alessandro. “It’s very modern, but it responds to a lot of Venetian and classic Italian details in a mish-mosh fashion, so that the Italian influence is ever present but not overbearing."

The centerpiece of the Venetian is its private and secured lobby, designed with 14-foot ceilings, marble floors and dramatic archways. “The entrance to the lobby is uniquely dramatic," Alessandro says. “The exterior consists, in part, of a series of screens and grills which run along the entire lower floors of the building on the Division Street side."

The ground level also contains 5,000 square feet of space reserved for commercial tenants who will cater to the needs of residents. The retail spaces will have their own entrances, separate from the lobby, and around 30 dedicated parking spaces in the four-story garage that forms the base of the building.

Atop the garage, as part of the fifth floor, is a secluded garden, or as Mosky puts it, “the piazza," where residents can relax to the sound of water flowing from a formal fountain. While this is a common feature in Italy, it is not often found in this country, and Alessando jokingly refers to it as “the ultimate response to the mayor’s Green Roof Initiative."

Other building amenities include a 24-hour doorman, a rooftop deck, a party room and an exercise facility. “We have made a real effort to make the common areas stand out," Mosky says. “The party room, for example, is all glass with a four-way view, and the workout room is 2,500 square feet, which is twice the normal size per capita for that type of facility."

Some of the building’s design features, such as the party room, stand out immediately. Others are subtler. For instance, RDM and its architects planned the Venetian so that it can easily be connected to the Neapolitan if the two condo associations desire, in order to share some services and facilities, potentially cutting costs and boosting benefits.
In keeping with the boutique feel of its nearby cousin, the Venetian was created with just eight residences per floor, beginning on the fifth floor. Many of these condos benefit from a series of setbacks on the ends of the highrise, a design that allows six out of eight apartments on each floor to be corner units. This configuration also allows for large balconies and provides both a north and south view from more than half of the residences.

“Most of the other new construction in the area is low-rise," Mosky says, “so our large balconies and multi-corners give everyone great skyline views, even from the lower floors."

The condos have one to three bedrooms and one to three baths. Features include hardwood floors, marble master baths, granite countertops, fireplaces, cherry and maple cabinetry and paneling, 10-foot ceilings, in-unit laundry and balconies or terraces. That high level of standard finishes rises even higher in the three duplex penthouses.

Prices range from the $270s to the $650s, and indoor parking is $35,000 per space, with tandem spots available for $55,000. At press time, approximately 60 percent of the units were sold, with first occupancy scheduled for spring.

Mosky is pleased with the response to his newest building, noting that it has attracted buyers from a variety of areas and demographic groups. “Our buyers include everyone from the Lincoln Park affluent to retirees to single women," he says. “People feel safe here. There’s a lot of outdoor space on the premises, so you can walk the dog at night right here where you live." And because the building contains a state-of-the-art security and camera systems, residents will feel comfortable at all hours.

The Old Town location and pricing also have played a big part in the success of the Venetian, Mosky says. “The neighborhood is full of established restaurants and businesses. It’s only a short walk to the grocery store and the new library. You could say the same things about the Gold Coast, but you don’t get the same neighborhood feeling, and you certainly won’t find the same price points."

Old Town Village and several other residential developments sit nearby, but Mosky welcomes them to the neighborhood. “Projects like that are what I call good competition," he says. “Buyers feel comfortable knowing that they are moving to a popular neighborhood."



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