VR lets buyers tour not-yet-built riverfront condo
Loop North News


(Above) The system immerses prospective home owners into this virtual living room and other spaces at Renelle on the River.

24-Jul-17 – With a headset and remote control, home buyers are exploring their prospective 18-story luxury condominium residence next to Trump Tower before it is built.

Belgravia Group says it is the first real estate firm in Chicago to offer virtual reality, computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment with which a user can interact – like forgetting the environment is simulated and trying to grab a digital handrail while leaning over to look down from a digital balcony.

The VR technology, developed two years ago by a company in Delhi, India, called SmartVizX, is installed in the sales showroom for Renelle on the River. The showroom is located on the west side of River Plaza, the 56-story condo that will be Renelle’s closest neighbor.

Buzz Ruttenberg “One thing that hasn’t changed in the 70 years we’ve been developing projects is, when it comes to buying new construction, people want to see and feel something which, in many cases, doesn’t physically exist,” says David “Buzz” Ruttenberg (left), founder of Belgravia Group. “But now we found a way to bring them as close to the real thing as possible. Instead of taking a leap of faith as many buyers do...they’ll be taking a virtual leap into their new home.”

Belgravia calls it an “immersive teleportation experience.” Two ceiling-mounted cameras track the user as he or she tours the virtual condo unit. What the user sees in the headset is also displayed on a wall-mounted television. With a hand-held remote, the user can “walk” through the entire residence and switch out flooring, countertops, kitchen cabinets, and bathroom backsplashes.

It can take two or three virtual tours for a prospective buyer to focus more on the actual unit and less on the overall experience.

“The first time around it’s just kind of like a ’wow’ factor,” says Pamela Albrecht, a broker associate who takes buyers on virtual tours of a Renelle unit. “They want to see the views. They want to understand how to get yourself around and so forth.”

(Right) Albrecht models the VR headset. The Marilyn Monroe-themed artwork at right also appears in the VR. (Click on image to view larger version.) Photo by Steven Dahlman

“Our buyers are very sophisticated and they’re used to having technology in their daily lives,” says Ruttenberg. “This gives our buyers the opportunity to have fun and experience futuristic technology.”

Renelle is 40 percent sold, according to Belgravia. Three and four-bedroom units range in price from $1.5 million to $3.2 million. Each floor will have only three or four units. Chicago-based bKL Architecture says construction will begin this fall and the first residents will move in late next summer. James McHugh Construction Company is the general contractor.

Photo by Steven Dahlman bKL Architecture
(Above) Red poles mark the corners of the building. Fencing encloses the future construction site. Renelle will be built over an underground four-level parking garage. A permit was issued by the City of Chicago last August for demolition of the plaza above the garage, including planters and paving. The public will still have access to a walkway that connects Wabash and Michigan Avenues. Imagined view of Renelle on the River, designed by Chicago-based bKL Architecture, from the DuSable Bridge at Michigan Avenue. Trump Tower at left. Wrigley Building at right. (Click on images to view larger versions.)

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News | sdahlman@loopnorth.com

Published 24-Jul-17 7:53 PM

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