The Great Midwest Land Rush

For those hoping to set out on a land-grabbing quest to find and develop a prime piece of property in Chicago's dignified North Shore, "The Great Midwest Landrush of Premier Properties" might be just the enterprising opportunity they're dreaming of.

This is Orren Pickell Designer & Builders' effort to show "that there has never been a more opportune time to buy," according to Todd Wilkins, executive vice president of the company. A handful of its luxurious plots of land in the North Shore will be sold at a 25 percent discount until Thursday, April 15.

For instance, lots in Tarns of the Moor in Bannockburn are being sold for prices starting at $900,000, while the parcel of land at 1889 Checker Rd. in Long Grove is being sold for $1.3 million, a 25 percent discount from the original $1.7 million price.

"In addition to the incredible values on coveted properties, construction prices are also significantly lower," Wilkins said in a press release.

One of the deluxe estates being sold at a discount is 600 Lansdowne Lane in Lake Bluff. On its Web site, Orren Pickell Designers & Builders notes that the 14,500 square-foot mansion, which was designed by Benjamin Marshall and built in 1911 for the daughter of Rand McNally and was restored last year, boasts 11 bedrooms, nine full bathrooms and two half baths, "along with a French-style reception room adjacent to the coffered-ceiling sunroom and Old World library." While the original list price is $9.7 million, the builder's site notes that special pricing is available for those who call to inquire about the property.

Trulia, a San Francisco-based real estate search engine, shows that the average listing price in Lake Bluff was $951,593 for the week ending Feb. 17, though the median sales price for November through January was $287,838, down 43.4 percent from the same period in the prior year.

Discounts on the builders' parcels of land are available for the first two buyers in each of the firm's subdivisions, in addition to all of its individual lots. "These properties range in price from $580,875 for a half-acre lot to $2,812,500 for two acres," the company notes.

Orren Pickell Designers & Builders is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, and its chief operating officer, Lisa Pickell, was recently named the 2009 Renovator of the Year by the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago. Apparently they're trying to keep their status with these recession-friendly deals.

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