A loft is a large, open area in a former factory or commercial-type building that has been converted for residential use. These spaces are characterized by exposed pipes, timber beams, exposed brick walls, and enormous floor-to-ceiling windows. Sometimes you can still see the scuff marks or discoloration on the walls and floors from its previous life. A lot of people enjoy living in lofts mainly for the flexibility as they usually do not have internal walls, allowing for a free-flowing raw space that can be used in pretty much any way — which is why so many artists first began living in loft apartments back in the 1950s and 60s. It’s a great way to give new life to an old structure. Developers built thousands of units in aging warehouses and factories in Chicago’s River North and Printer’s Row, helping transform and revitalize once-blighted neighborhoods into a mix of commercial and residential properties where people now want to play and live. Here are five lofts in the city currently for sale.
At the corner of Washington and Carpenter in the booming West Loop is Holabird & Roche’s Chapman and Smith Company Building — now Acorn Lofts — built between 1902-04. The historic structure once housed supplies for bakers, confectioners, and ice cream makers, but now it’s home to 57 live-work loft units, including this exclusive penthouse with panoramic views from its own private rooftop. Everything you’d expect in a loft is here with the exposed brick, hardwood floors, and 11-foot-high concrete ceilings. The open layout is great for entertaining and traffic flow while bedrooms are fully enclosed. A “bird’s nest” leads to a possible third bedroom or office with its own private deck.
In the heart of Printers Row, a vintage iron cage elevator takes you directly to this unique and stylish top floor loft that’s currently for sale. Located in the 1913 annex of the original 1883 structure, the Donahue Building was the first large factory to open on South Dearborn Street as well as the first to undergo condo conversion in the landmarked district back in 1979. Brick and concrete construction makes this open live-work space virtually soundproof. Lots of character inside with the 10.5-foot-high ceiling, exposed brick walls, glass blocks, clawfoot spa tub, and the original factory vault door. Plus lots of potential to create extra spaces or rooms. And the best part? You have private roof rights.
Just steps away from the 606/Bloomingdale Trail is the Clocktower Lofts, formerly a manufacturing facility for the wholesale clothing business of Kling Brothers and Company. Built between 1919 and 1920 by architect Alfred Alschuler — best known for the LondonHouse Hotel at Michigan and Wacker — the structure is a great blend of preserving older elements with a great layout for contemporary living. The timber-beamed loft opens right up to the south-facing balcony, while there is more outdoor space on the common roof deck.
The bronze Spirit of Progress still stands on top of the former Montgomery Ward & Co. administration building where you’ll find this two-bedroom, two-bathroom loft with 15-foot-high concrete ceilings. One of the city’s first large reinforced concrete buildings, the former complex was converted to residences almost 20 years ago. It is situated along the north branch of the Chicago River, perfect for sunset views from the private balcony off the loft’s living room. Plus there are 360-degree views of the city from the beautiful rooftop deck. This condo is perfect for someone who is looking for a piece of history right in the middle of everything.
Located in the Motor Row District in what was once the showroom of the Racine-based Mitchell Automobile Company between 1910 and 1923 is this amazing triplex penthouse that was previously featured in Chicago magazine. Designed by renowned architect Jarvis Hunt, the building became part of a series along South Michigan Avenue that was described by Architectural Record as “the longest and best automobile course in any city of this country.” There is a lot to take in here with this particular unit, whether it’s the city views from the private deck or the distinctive timber loft beams — along with the dramatic mural by local artist David Bozic on the loft’s 22-ft-high walls.