Downtown rental occupancy hit a 10-year high in the first quarter of 2014. In March, five of the seven large luxury rental buildings in the Loop and River North were pulling past the two-thirds occupied mark, according to a report by Appraisal Research Counselors. And some 17 more rental buildings in the larger downtown (Cermak to North, Lakeshore to Ashland) are under construction or about to break ground, delivering about 4,700 more units by late 2015.
The first rental tower to open in 2014 is 73 East Lake Street, a luxury rental building that just rose on a skinny lot on Lake Street between Michigan and Wabash Avenues. M&R Development president Tony Rossi hosted a recent tour. “It took a lot of work to build on a narrow footprint,” says Rossi. “The toughest part was the logistics of moving materials in and out.”
For all the constraints, the 42-story, 332-unit tower doesn’t feel short on width. Each residential floor packs in 10 to 11 units, none smaller than 680 square feet. The amenities on floors nine, 10, and 42 include wraparound sun decks, a multi-stage fitness center, a spacious indoor pool with sauna, hot tub, and steam room, conference rooms, a theater room, and an internet lounge.
The units themselves are a mix of studios and two-bed apartments. All 113 studios, however, are actually convertibles ranging from 680 to 700 square feet. A sliding glass “barn door” creates the bedroom separation. The one-bedroom units clock an average of 800 square feet and the two-bedrooms about 1,100. There are multiple floor plans for each, but really it’s the success of the model unit that determines which unit type outpaces the others in the lease up. After eight weeks of move-ins, starting in early May, 119 units had been rented.
It took six years since its inception for 73 East Lake to get here, but that's not all for this block: The 400-unit 200 North Michigan is laying foundation, and a new Virgin Hotel is making plans to open on Wabash Avenue.
Price Points: Luxury doesn't come cheap. Current pricing is as follows: Convertibles start at $2,280; One-bedrooms start at $2,815; and two-bedrooms start at $3,400. Parking is an extra $300/month, utilities are extra and determined by unit size, and dogs and cats incur fees and a slight rent hike.