Developer reduces size of Edge project

| Saturday, July 21, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

The developer of the former Edge restaurant site in Mt. Washington has reduced the size of the project by about 30 percent and hopes to have financing for the hotel and residential portion of the project in place within six to eight months.

The estimated $100 million complex along Grandview Avenue has been in the works for several years.

“We are waiting for our contractors to supply us with estimated cost figures to get a clearer idea of how much we need, before we can work with our lenders, which could be banks or pension funds, a combination of both, or other lenders,” said Steven Beemsterboer, head of Sycamore Grandview Development Inc.

He spoke at a meeting on Thursday night of the Mt. Washington Community Development Corp.

“We have already invested $5 million of our own funds,” Beemsterboer said, in acquiring the property and other costs, which include architectural plans and other soft costs, which continue to grow.

Beemsterboer said 35 percent of the financing for the project will come from his equity investment, with the rest from borrowing. He may be able to attract other equity from a hotel operator that commits to the project, he said.

With bank credit difficult to obtain, local real estate experts have said the developers will need deep pockets to obtain construction financing.

The Chicago-area family's business is Beemsterboer Slag Co. Its primary business is coal, coke and salt commodities trading.

Beemsterboer said the hotel portion of the project will continue to have between 160 to 170 rooms, because that's the minimum operators say they need. And the height of the project likely will remain 23 stories.

Other pieces of the project have been reduced.

The hotel's main ballroom size has been reduced from accommodating 500 people to 290, and the main meeting room from 500 to 193. The number of restaurants has also been cut from two to one. And parking spaces in a garage and outside have been reduced from 447 to 376, said Luke Desmone of Desmone & Associates, the project architect.

The number of condos also has been cut from 60 to 30 or 35, even though a number of people have expressed interest in buying them, Beemsterboer said.

“Getting financing for condos is difficult,” said Beau Beemsterboer, vice president, and Steven's son.

If the project is successful, more condos could be added later in a second phase.

The condos will be built in a separate building, connected to the hotel by a covered walkway. One or two condo units may still be built on the top floor of the hotel.

The alternative to condos is rental apartments, he said. Apartments later could be converted to condos.

Beau Beemsterboer said they have two hotel chains interested in the project, but he did not identify them.

They are hoping to begin construction in March after spending the remainder of this year preparing the site for construction.

One lender with which they are working is the Pittsburgh-based ERECT Fund, which is funded by union pension money and requires projects to be built with union workers.

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