The 1926 opening of the Shoreland Hotel at 5454 S South Shore Drive solidified coastal Hyde Park as a fashionable address for visiting pols, celebs, mobsters, and regular Joes.

But in the turbulent 1950s and 1960s, people began to seek out palatial hotel accommodations elsewhere. The good building stock lived on, pressed into other service. The Del Prado, at 53rd and Hyde Park Boulevard, switched from apartment hotel to apartment building; the Shoreland, by 1973, had become a University of Chicago dorm.

Then, five years ago, developer Antheus Capital—whose property management arm MAC Property Management is a major neighborhood player—acquired both structures and embarked on gut rehab and redesign with “luxury rental” as end game.

This outcome was not a foregone conclusion for the Shoreland. It was extremely dilapidated, and zoning difficulties involving apartment occupancy and parking supply were nearly intractable obstacles in the early going. And it was more of a total rebuild than the Del Prado. Restructuring the building to have 330 apartments with 34 different unit floor plans and breathtaking common areas took the most time. The builders working with Antheus Capital expended great energy figuring out a parking equation that wouldn’t destroy ballrooms, gut lower floors, or blight views with an unseemly helix ramp.

Antheus pursued Landmark designation to help alleviate a one-space-per-unit parking requirement. A public relations campaign helped sell it to the community. Settling on 138 below-grade spaces, there was no longer any need to butcher the building’s interiors. The throwback forecourt and striking porte-cochere cap the lot and preserve the possibility for supplemental valet parking if and when car ownership exceeds allotted spaces. To date, just 30% of 106 leasing households have claimed parking, according to MAC’s director of community development Peter Cassel, who, along with property manager Kim Kilibarda, led me through the gleaming new Shoreland. 

According to the city’s Landmark Designation Report, the 13-story Shoreland was designed by Meyer Fridstein in “an exuberant Spanish Renaissance Revival style” and clad head to toe in terra cotta ornament. A 1937 renovation of the 6,000-sqaure-foot, double height lobby delivered a more streamlined (and trendier) Art Moderne style. Neighboring spaces like the former King Louis XVI and Crystal ballrooms and the library and club room are much heavier spaces, but not in a bad way. A creative firm laid claim to sections of ballroom, and a high-ceilinged fitness center was built into another chunk. The library and club room became refurbished wood-paneled gems for residents, channeling the aura of card games once hosted by Jimmy Hoffa and Al Capone at the hotel.

Throughout the building, where materials and designs were salvageable, Studio Gang Architects reinstated a vintage grandeur. According to Cassel, where deterioration or alteration made that impossible, a restrained juxtaposition of old and new became the goal. This is most evident in glass doorways, floating lobby stairs, contemporary light fixtures, and apartment interiors tailored to a number of specific tastes (the student, the young professional, the teacher, etc.). “There’s a tenet in preservation that you don’t go faux if original details aren’t present,” says Cassel. “Otherwise it starts to look a little Disneyland.”

The old hotel/dorm room dimensions, previously flooded by more than 700 students, weren’t fit for saving—not with the modern world’s need for large closets, open kitchens, and in-unit laundry (now present in every unit). The new product is a good one, anchored by large windows and nine-foot ceilings. This is also the first residential building with units prewired for 1 gigabit of internet speed (100x typical broadband speed), a fact that has garnered significant press. All told, it's on par with some of the city's best new rentals.

Another sign of the new: The Shoreland will soon open a “pooch parlor” to affirm its pro-pet stance. The city of Chicago strongly encourages full-fledged dog runs at new residential buildings, but Antheus made the case, successfully, that the several hundred acres of park at the Shoreland’s front door should count for something.

Price Points. The Shoreland’s units have changeable rents based on demand, but current availabilities range from $1,245 for a studio and $1,300 for a one-bedroom to $3,775 for a 1,475-square-foot three-bedroom. It’s natural to seek out lake views, but neighborhood views from higher floors are also virtually unobstructed. Five 3rd-floor units share in one long lake-facing balcony.