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Kapos: Jitters about Trump tower property values

Chicago's Trump International Hotel & Tower

Donald Trump's Chicago hotel. | Sun-Times file photo

Condo owners in Chicago’s Trump International Hotel & Tower are fretting about property values in a Donald Trump America, and at least two sellers dropped their asking price after the election.

Those who’ve put their homes on the market aren’t talking, though some have grumbled privately to friends about being worried how Trump’s leadership will affect property values.

Others are staying the course.

“I view my place as an investment, and I don’t think it’s the time to sell,” says one condo owner, who didn’t want to be named for fear of offending neighbors. Talking about Trump leads to unwanted political debates, he says.

Listings show five price drops among 16 sellers of one-bedroom condos since late summer. There have been four price drops among 12 sellers of larger units. Two sellers dropped their asking price since the election: one from $895,000 to $875,000, and another from $735,000 to $730,000. There has also been one new listing at Trump Tower since Nov. 8.

Gail Lissner, vice president at Appraisal Research Counselors, a real estate consulting firm, expects some concerns — like protesters — to fade. Homeowners generally drop the price “when they’re in a distressed situation or particularly anxious to sell,” she says.

The first half of 2016 saw Trump tower home sales averaging $840 per square foot. Prices have averaged $850 for the second half of the year, although one sale skewed the numbers upward. Prices were $839 per square foot at the start of 2015 and $838 in the second half of last year.

Kristine Farra, a real estate broker with Gold Coast Exclusive, says buyers across the board — not just for Trump tower — held off on purchasing homes to see how a Trump presidency might affect the market.

Since the election, she says showings have picked up. Farra also expects a loosening of credit standards, which will boost sales of smaller Trump Tower units. “The sky isn’t going to fall,” she says.

One Trump homeowner who could feel a pinch if property values fall is retired business executive Thomas Gross, whose Trump Tower unit is on the market for $12.7 million. Listing agent Chezi Rafaeli says Gross isn’t dropping his price.

“People who live in the building think they won the lottery,” says Rafaeli, adding his clients hope Trump’s successes in the White House “reflect positively on the building.”

Filling up on Thanksgiving kindness

Sonya Jackson

Sonya Jackson

Twenty years ago, Sonya Jackson didn’t want to end up in “another food coma” on Thanksgiving.

“I decided to do service instead,” she says

The Chicago business consultant started small, first working in shelters. Then she took meals and toys to families in a pediatric oncology unit. That evolved into cooking mass dinners in communities with people in need. First, for a few hundred people. Last year, family and friends waited on 600 guests — no one stands in a line for a meal. Jackson hopes to serve 1,000 meals this year at Catalyst School and San Jose Obrero Mission, both on the West Side.

“I’ve built my life and career through fostering great relationships,” says Jackson, who before consulting worked for or headed up the charitable foundations connected to Sara Lee, Sears, BP and United Airlines. “I can pick up the phone and make calls and make things happen quickly.”

She used to underwrite the dinner but over the years it has evolved into a community effort. Last week, a donor who wants to stay anonymous paid for the $700 in produce from Stanley’s market.

Other friends have sent food — four turkeys here, five hams there. If they’re not serving, they help prep the meals. Soho House, a membership social club, has donated kitchen space and refrigerators this year as well as volunteers from its staff and membership list. Jackson’s a member, too.

“It’s an embarrassment of riches in terms of people wanting to volunteer,” she says of the 100-plus volunteering this year.

They’ll cook 1,200 pounds of potatoes, 1,500 pounds of greens and green beans and a combined 100 turkeys and boneless turkey breasts.

“I see it as a calling,” says Jackson, who believes “Good people can change the world.” She says it so often, her friends repeat it.

The back story of a mega-deal

Rishi Shah of ContextMedia

Rishi Shah | Steve Becker photography

There’s a back story to Rishi Shah‘s ContextMedia acquiring AccentHealth, which is produced by CNN’s medical team and hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

In 2010, it was Tampa, Florida-based AccentHealth that came calling to buy the Chicago company.

“We had just gotten into business. We were just a few years into it when they approached us,” recalled Shah, who had dropped out of college to start the company that produces health-related videos for hospitals and health systems nationwide.

Shah’s answer was “no way” as the company was committed to staying independent.

The two companies were fierce competitors until last week, when the tables turned and ContextMedia acquired AccentHealth. Terms weren’t released, but it was an all-cash deal.

“Now we’ll have the largest content library of health video in the world,” says Shah. “We’re excited about that.”

Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.