Chicago Life and Style.

Your Home. Your Life. Your Style

Month: September, 2009

Floating Real Estate

There are two immutable laws of real estate; 1) it’s intensely local, and 2) it’s immovable. Until now.  Now, you can own a piece of “The World” and your own slice of real estate that is in a constant circumnavigation of the globe.  Impossible you say? Not anymore.

Last night I watched a documentary on “The World” which is the first cruise ship of its kind. Its enormous. If we were talking about a regular vacation cruise liner, it would host about 1900 people. However, this isn’t Carnival, its isn’t even Norwegian or whatever a higher end version of the usual fare is.  This ship is built of condos, at capacity, about 350 guests. Individual, custom, single-owner residences that vary in size but are certainly comparable to our high end condos in Chicago. Full gourmet kitchen in each.  Real honest to goodness homes.

Now lets talk about the amenities on board.  The ship broadcasts its own TV and radio shows daily. For exercise, there is a golf and country club on board with a real grass putting green that weighs a few tons, the first floating full size tennis court and one side of the deck fold down when stopped to become a marina for all sort of water sports off the side of the ship.  For the more relaxed, there is an entire village below deck to go shopping for food, clothes, a full size library, you can take cooking lessons at one of many four star restaurants on board, visit the internet cafe (although your condo has uninterrupted internet service no matter where you are).  There are several lounges and bars on board including a cigar lounge with an ultra high tech humidor to keep the cuban cigars perfectly fresh, and I’m happy to say they stock my favorite, the Romeo & Julietta. Some of the crew even double as entertainment and provide live music and singing in the lounges.

How does all of this work?  Some things I never thought of. For instance, you cannot have open flame anywhere on the boat so all the cooking is done via induction heat. Because of the chance of rough seas and shifting items, the chefs have to wear chain mail aprons! How cool/hysterical is that?! There is a staff of 300 crew that keeps everything running smoothly and they have their own village that mirrors (although with slightly lower end amenities!) the owners’ village above. The ship itself has its own waste treatment plant and all waste is purified enough to pass as drinking water before it is disposed of. The ship also runs on diesel fuel which is substantially more earth friendly that the traditional tanker oil fuel. They have even thought of the golf balls–for those avid golfers that just cant resist hitting off the green into the water, they have special golf balls made of fish food that dissolve in the water.

Obviously, this lifestyle choice isn’t for everyone. And, let’s be honest, you have to be near obscenely rich to afford it. One of the shops in the village on board if Graff jewelers who carries an average inventory of $12 Million dollars of jewels at any given time.  One special broadcast on the ship network was about how to deal with the problems of the very rich–one of the residents coined the term “affluenza”. Um, ok, whatever.

Anyway, it was an awesome thing to see, a fairytale in the real world really.  The resident all get a vote on the upcoming years schedule so they can be sure not to miss any important/exciting event in the WORLD.  How about that for perspective?  I’m just happy to get my hands around what going on in my neighborhood!

Good deals to be had–this Sat 9/27

Now more than ever we are all looking for a good deal!

Tablescapes First Ever Warehouse Sale

Lots of dinnerware, glassware and flatware.  From small quantities of crystal cordials and samples (cool single plates and trays) to tons of silver service plates and bamboo chairs.

Also, lots of china that is not up to “Tablescapes’ standards” but great for college students and church groups.

Sunday 9/27 9:30 – 2pm
Tablescapes’ Parking Lot 1827 W. Hubbard Street
(One block south of Grand between Ashland and Damen)
Rain location:Tablescapes’ Dock 419 N. Wolcott Street
(Just around the corner)

A good Realtor can be a great comfort in this difficult time.

I was delighted to read in Crain’s today about how people are turning to their real estate agents for information and comfort in this difficult economy even when they aren’t ready to buy or sell. Read the Crain’s article here. We all know we are in the midst of the information age and the internet provides more data and accessibility than ever before.  Unfortunately, this vast wealth of information can be overwhelming and confusing and sometimes downright contradictory.

Thanks to our wonderful and very important right of free speech, everyone can say whatever they want and put it out into the vastness of the web.  Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to determine where information is coming from, who is writing and what their motivation may be.  Statistics can be difficult to interpret at the best of times but when different camps post directly opposing stats, what’s a person to do? Not to mention that many homeowners haven’t been through this type of market swing as a homeowner before. It’s scary stuff.

That is precisely what licensed Realtors are here for.  We are a tremendously well connected and cohesive group–what that means to you as a consumer is that through our networks, we are able to receive and vet more information collectively than any one person could possibly hope to manage. We also deal with multiple areas, neighborhoods, buildings and clients so unlike a homeowner or prospective purchaser, we have been focusing on a much broader market and we have maintained that focus over time so we have some historical perspective.  That’s important because of how cyclical the market is and because jumping in from zero and trying to put together a full picture looking forward and back is nearly impossible. AND, lets not forget how emotional we get about our homes–not just you and me but my neighbor who tried to scare us with a horror story and the guy down the street who is convinced the neighborhood is in trouble and your cousin around the corner and the lady at work whose neighbor is in foreclosure, etc etc.  We know these are not the resources we should be listening to but it’s hard to drown them out when the only alternative is an impersonal computer filled with statistics. The good news is that there is another alternative and people are starting to take advantage of it.

This business is as much about relationships as it is about mortar and bricks.  The satisfaction I get from my job is directly connected to being a part of making other people happy in their homes–new or existing.  Questions about current the current market, neighborhood trends, resources and things to do–this is what I’m here for!  If you are ready to make a move, that’s great, lets talk about it, but even if you aren’t this is a good time to reach out and forge the right relationship with a realtor so you are armed with all the information you need to be comfortable where you are and where you are going.  In case that wasn’t obvious enough, that means me!  Call, email, facebook, linkedin, twitter, website, you name it, I’m out there and I’m there for you.

Public Transportation…your bus trip is getting better!

A local community group is working to improve the public transportation in its service area. Wicker Park/Bucktown (WPB) has installed 6 sites for the Bustracker program. The installations allow you to get real time updates on the buses scheduled to arrive and depart and provide information on local activities and events.  Real time updates means that you will be able to make an educated decision whether to take the train instead, know if you have to grab a cab or call to let someone know you will be late.

I used to take the bus to work every day but I had a couple of options and I hated not knowing if the bus was about to turn the corner or if I should jump on my alternate–I spent several a cold, hot or rainy hour waiting unnecessarily. This is a great idea. Below are the location that bus tracker is live in, now, more to come.

Red Hen Bread, 1623 N. Milwaukee
Gallery Cafe, 1760 W. North
W Grocer, 2060 W. North
Caffe de Luca, 1721 N. Damen
Feast, 1616 N. Damen
Wow & Zen, 1912 N. Damen

Garfield Park Conservatory County Fair

I love the conservatory, I write about it all the time because they have wonderful programs and its a hidden gem that never fails to make me happy when I’m there.  Today, Sophia and her grandmother and I went to their Annual County Fair.  Even though I am predisposed to like whatever they do, this far exceeded even my expectations. It wasn’t huge but what was there was extremely well thought out.

IMG_4413IMG_4414IMG_4415There were the usual tents with local produce and products that you would expect at a fair.  There was some pretty intense slides and bouncing tents (far right) for the kids and a pen with goats and sheep and ducks.  And those goats must have just gotten a bath because they were pristine! They also had two rings for pony rides with miniature horses– but all different sizes so the bigger kids had a much bigger horse they could go on which I’m sure made many an older sibling happy.  And there was a lovely lively band with seating under the trees.

What you don’t always get and what was so special were all the other activities available.  Below is a seed scooping station.  Wheelbarrows full of seeds and trowels and pots to play with. A GREAT thing for kids of all ages.


They also had an Origami table–an industrious young boy was working very diligently on making a paper swan with the help of the instructor. Now that’s a worthwhile activity. Right next door to the seed station was a station to make your very own corn husk doll and a table where you could make your own pouch with ingredients to make apple cider–what a great idea for kids to make and give as presents during the holidays.

IMG_4416Alas, Sophia had an early morning so we didn’t get to spend as many hours there as I would have liked. But the conservatory is even a good place to take a nap. Here is Sophia napping with grandma on one of the benches in one of the many outdoor gardens close to the fair activities.

If you didn’t have a chance to participate this year, I hope you will get on the mailing list and make sure you calendar it for next year, its really a special event.  Check their website to see all the other neat things that go on all year long. And most of them are free!