President Barack Obama library’s real estate buzz

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Hasani Steele of Steele Consulting Group said the Obama library “helps people feel better about their choices.” | Provided photo

When you stand just right looking out from the 12th floor of Jackson Towers, Diane Freeman tells a prospective condo buyer, “You’ll be able to see the library.”

The Baird & Warner broker is referring to the Obama Presidential Center, which is about four blocks south and a little west of the Jackson Towers at 5555 S. Everett Ave. The condo’s owner, Saskia Sassen, is a former University of Chicago professor now teaching in New York.

Real estate brokers say the buzz about the library has grown exponentially since it was announced Jackson Park would host it. Sale prices have ticked up too, they say, from about $226,000 in July 2016 to $255,000 this month.

Hasani Steele, whose Steele Consulting Group works with Re/Max Premier Properties, says potential buyers still care more about the structure of the homes more than the neighborhood. He added that the Obama library will be moving in “helps people feel better about their choices.”

As an example, Steele points to recent clients who bought in the Woodlawn area, where Jackson Park is located.

“They weren’t from the area and were purchasing a home a block east of Cottage Grove,” Steele said. “A year ago, they would have questioned it — the location. I talked about the Obama library and the (also yet-to-be-built) Tiger Woods golf course and that sealed it for them. It gives people confidence.”

Dianne Voss, a broker with Conlon Real Estate Co., says it’s not just single-family homes basking in the Obama library limelight. She’s seeing more developers rehabbing existing homes too.

“It’s not going to be like Cabrini Green, where people living there were pushed out because they couldn’t afford housing that was built there,” Voss said. “When you hear a Jewel grocery store is coming to the area, and the Green Line will undergo upgrades and the presidential library is coming to this area, change is inevitable.”

Still, not all the chatter is positive, acknowledges Lamar Austin, who’s been selling real estate in the area for 12 years.

“People want to know how far it is” from the home they’re looking at buying, says the Redfin broker. “Some of them worry it will be too busy.”

Penny Pritzker’s one regret

Penny Pritzker, the former commerce secretary, acknowledged one regret from her stint in Washington, D.C.: “Not getting the Trans Pacific Partnership through Congress.”

Former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker | AP file photo

Former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker | AP file photo

Pritzker has returned to Chicago and is focused on her investment company, PSP Capital. In an interview with Axios media company, she acknowledged frustration about not nailing down TPP.

“I worked my entire 3 1/2 years on that project and I think it is absolutely in the best interest of both the average American and American business, and I think that embracing multilateral trade agreements where the U.S. can shape trade in the 21st century is really valuable.”

Another takeaway from the interview: Pritzker, who hasn’t always agreed with her brother J.B. Pritzker on politics, is endorsing his bid for governor. “I’m 100 percent behind him,” she said

Bluhm defends the arts

Chicago businessman and philanthropist Neil Bluhm spoke passionately about the arts the other day during the Whitney Museum annual gala. He’s a trustee and was honored by the museum for his philanthropy.

Neil Bluhm | Getty Images

Neil Bluhm | Getty Images

“It is said that art is one of the most important things a civilization leaves behind,” Bluhm said. “Art creates a dialogue for the challenges and contradicting ideas of our time.

“Here at the Whitney, our artists, and in particular, our biennial artists, are not only recording and depicting our society, they’re using art as a hammer with which to shape it. Artists are asking the tough questions about who we are, and who we want to be as a society, no matter how difficult, how controversial, or how painful that may be.”

His comments came on the heels of President Donald Trump‘s budget proposal, which calls for eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts.

This is one nasty divorce case

A Chicago attorney spent nearly every night for a month in jail rather than paying maintenance fees in his ugly divorce case.

DuPage County Judge Robert Douglas has his hands full in the trial between attorney Jon Papin and Wheaton dermatologist Colleen Keegan.

The couple married in 1989 and have three grown children. Keegan filed for divorce in 2014, claiming irreconcilable differences. Subsequent court hearings, stacks of documents and the ongoing trial show that’s an understatement.

Papin has accused Keegan of brandishing a gun. She says he owes her $200,000. When Papin didn’t pay, the judge held him in contempt. That meant Papin slept nights in jail and went to work each day trying cases.

The divorce trial doesn’t seem to be wrapping up anytime soon. Last week, Douglas acknowledged having to wade through 2,497 pages of American Express bills to better understand what should be admissible for trial.

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