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Want to Rent a Townhome? Now’s Your Chance

Downtown developers are starting to cater to people looking for the comforts but not the hassle of homeownership.

The Cooper at Southbank   Photo: Courtesy of Lendlease

Luxe townhouses are having a bit of a moment in Chicago. “In the last year, they’ve become more prevalent in new construction, especially downtown, where the demand for housing continues to rise with the city’s job growth,” says Ben Creamer, managing partner of the local real estate broker Downtown Apartment Company.

The wrinkle: Unlike the typical townhouse, many of the new ones are built to rent rather than sell. And at lofty prices too, with some going for north of $10,000 a month.

One driving factor is the influx of corporate relocations. “If you’re a C-suite executive looking to move his family to Chicago, maybe you want to see if anything softens up at the top of the market [before investing in a single-family house],” says Jonathan Self of Center Coast Realty. Renting a townhouse — one with homey touches such as multilevel living space, limited wall-sharing neighbors, and a front door that drops you right onto the street — buys you some time.

These units have an appeal to developers too. Some are using them to mask the drab concrete parking levels at the base of so many of the city’s residential towers.

The Cooper at Southbank

720 S. Wells St., South Loop

1,200 to 2,100 square feet
$4,800 to $8,000 a month

Lendlease’s 452-unit high-rise on the river (opened in October) includes 26 townhouses along its lower levels. Residents will eventually have access to a kayak launch and water taxi stop.

61 E. Banks

61 E. Banks St., Gold Coast

2,000 to 2,700 square feet
$8,100 to $14,000 a month

Eight of the 58 units in Draper & Kramer’s eight-story stone building (expected to be ready this spring) are townhouses, most with two stories. They make up the lower levels, so you’ll sacrifice the classic house-like exterior.

Chestnut Row Homes

Chestnut and Clark, Near North Side

4,400 to 4,800 square feet
$13,500 to $15,000 a month

These seven four-level townhouses, expected in January from Jennifer Pritzker’s Tawani Enterprises, have a 19th-century-inspired limestone exterior, a private elevator and balcony, and a shared outdoor space with fire pits.

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