Entrepreneurs and Parents

Eugene and Joan Stunard

The Stunards moved into Harbor Point in the spring of 1975, next to their office in 400 E. Randolph. They selected units on the 43rd floor making sure to be able to look over that building. At first, while the building was still under construction, they were the only residents on the floor and remember when the water to the toilets was shut off during the evenings. But, because, the doors to the other units were unlocked, they were able to use those bathrooms until the next morning.

Gene was on the Board of Directors for its first six years, served on the Admissions Committee that established procedures for potential buyers, and worked as an appraiser for the company he and his wife co-founded, Appraisal Research Counselors. On the Board, he pushed for open meetings and limited rules. Joan was the office manager for their business, and took primary responsibility for running the household and taking care of their three children, Laura, Vicky, and Walter. Together their three children have had their six grandchildren.

Once when Gene was looking out their window toward the Art Institute, he suggested to his then 13 year old daughter, Vicky, that they needed to make time to visit the museum. “Oh, but I do visit it all the time!” Little had he known that she would walk over there with her friends, visiting a different part of the Art Institute each time they went. This area had become their children’s neighborhood with plenty to explore. Joan remembers that their children’s friends from Oak Park joined them on weekends so often that there wasn’t a need to phone the families as they knew where their kids were.

Gene’s job was to appraise properties on behalf of lenders. The major value factors in a building like Harbor Point are views and height. Early in Harbor Point history, he appraised the Harbor Point construction project for the investors Talman Federal, Continental Bank, and Metropolitan Structures. The building was built during a recession, mortgage rates were high at 8%, money was scarce, and sales slow. Because Illinois law limited the percentage banks could charge, they looked towards other states where they could make more money.

The first store was opened by Dick Dahl who by trade was a butcher and would cut meat to order. He was also happy to provide jobs for the children living in the building, making deliveries, stocking shelves, and bagging groceries. He’d also let the kids make their own huge sandwiches!

Over the years, they have found that this is a neighborhood composed of different groups of people who know each other through different connections, for example: parents know other parents, and pet owners know other pet owners. Today, Gene walks to work next door, and Joan is retired. They still live in the units they purchased and moved into 38 years ago, and their children are nearby!

April 4, 2013