When he’s not sure which of his 12 Porsches he feels like driving today, Dennis Kostic heads over to his new garage to take a look at them all lined up, gleaming and ready to roll.
They’re not parked at his Naperville home but in a garage condominium he purchased recently at Iron Gate Motor Condos, a car collector’s haven on the northern edge of Naperville.
The 40-by-68-foot garage condo, two stories tall, with a second-floor kitchen and entertainment suite looking out over the cars on the first floor, is 10 minutes from Kostic’s home. That’s a lot more convenient than his old arrangement, when he had to zip around to the three or four garages his babies occupied.
“It’s a stupid problem to have, but it’s a problem to have to go around to all these different garages, back a few cars out to get the one you want, then put them all back in,” says Kostic, president and CEO of Weir International, a mine engineering consulting firm in Downers Grove. Typically, he is using one of the Porsches and the other 11 are in the new garage, which was completed in early September.
Kostic’s garage at Iron Gate is more than a half-hour nearer to home than the Autobahn, a private racetrack near Joliet, where Kostic keeps his race car. Some of the Porsches were stored there as well, “but that’s too far to go if you just want to pick up a car for the day,” he says.
Kostic, who bought his first Porsche in 1975 and has been collecting them, Ford Shelbys and Triumphs ever since, is an unapologetic member of the “car-afflicted” population developer Tom Burgess says he is targeting with Iron Gate.
“These are people who want to have their cars all in one place and don’t have room—or maybe their wife doesn’t want them—to add a 10-car garage on the house,” Burgess says. “Besides, when they go to downsize from the family house, it would be hard to sell it to anybody who isn’t also a collector.”
Burgess, whose Aurora firm, Burgess Commercial Real Estate, focuses mostly on office space, says he bought the 45-acre parcel on Ferry Road in 2009 intending to build an office campus, but the pace of commercial construction in the area hasn’t yet revived from the downturn.
Burgess, a collector himself with 11 cars, built a large garage for them on one of his office properties several years ago but felt lonely there. “The car community is full of camaraderie,” he says. “Whether you’ve got 1950s muscle cars or original 1890s machines or a Porsche 918—that’s a spectacular modern supercar—it’s fun to check out what the other guy’s got, talk about cars, fire up the barbecue.”
He envisioned Iron Gate as a place where car collectors could store, display and work on their collections, unhassled by neighbors or family members who don’t share the obsession, and hang out with like-minded collectors.
With the first phase of 42 spaces sold, Burgess late last summer started construction on the second phase, where some changes are being made to accommodate taller, longer RVs. A single unit, 20 by 40 feet and two stories tall, costs $129,000 and can accommodate four cars on the floor or more with a lift. “Really nobody wants to stop at one space,” Burgess says.
Kostic bought three. So did Dave Kelsch, CEO of Advanced Data Technologies, a communications wiring firm in Naperville. His space can accommodate a dozen cars but holds only five, including a 1994 Dodge Viper and a 1969 Chevy Camaro. Kelsch says he bought room for 12 “so I could offer space to my friends for their cars. We’re all car guys.”
Though acknowledging that a megagarage is an indulgence, Kelsch says, “Once you’ve got these cars, you have expenses to keep them.”
A friend who stores cars at a rental facility is paying $250 a month per car, he says, and the space doesn’t have room for working on the cars, let alone admiring them.
Kelsch’s space one-ups the standard two-story unit. Above the kitchen and entertainment level, where he and his wife, Dawn, have held several birthday parties, political events and other gatherings, is an attic level where a collection of a few dozen electric guitars lines two walls. One son practices there with his band, and people show up to jam. Better here than at the family home 3 miles away.
Burgess sells the units bare-bones, with utilities hooked up and such essentials as the 14-foot roll-up doors installed. Some have second-story decks looking over a small wetland on the site. Owners have finished their spaces in a range of styles, including a sleek, utilitarian gray decorated with car logos and a faux Tuscan look with artificially broken plaster.
A car wash and audio retailer are among future tenants that have signed up for Iron Gate Motor Plaza, a part of the development that faces the street. The plan was greenlighted by the Naperville City Council in early September.
While zoning does not allow bedrooms in the Iron Gate condos, Burgess says owners who opt to flop on the couch overnight once in a while are OK. Otherwise, he says, “you have to go home, even if this is where all your favorite toys are.”