Crossing the intersection of Chestnut and Clark, it's near impossible to miss the whir of construction in the area. The neighborhood is just one of many downtown witnessing a dramatic uptick in new housing, typically in the form of tall, slender towers packed with small units.
But one new development, the Chestnut Row Homes, is bucking those trends. The series of seven attached single family homes clad with limestone facades is aiming to revive Victorian-era architecture and bring quality to Chicago’s downtown.
The new residences come at the hands of Col. Jennifer Pritzker’s Tawani Enterprises. The firm is known for helming historic preservation and adaptive reuse projects around Chicago, notably the restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Emil Bach House as a short-stay rental and event space.
But the idea for Chestnut Row has organic roots, taking inspiration from a pair of vintage homes located across the street which were acquired and restored by Tawani in 2013, according to real estate project coordinator Nicole Kleidon.
“Historic architecture is Col. Pritzker’s passion,” Kleidon says. “These homes weren’t built with maximum profit in mind.”
Indeed, Tawani's focus on materials and gilded age build quality is a rarity in today’s new construction market.
But they aren't cheap either. Rents at Chestnut Row range from $13,500 to $15,000 a month, making the units some of Chicago's priciest. (RentCafe estimates that the current average rent in the Gold Coast is just under $2,200 per month).
The justification? "The quality demands it," says Kimberlee Carr, Director of Property Management with Tawani, who added that their target market is upscale renters seeking new finishes and the privacy of a single family home. Each unit includes two indoor parking spaces in the monthly rent.
Tawani tapped Chicago’s Booth Hansen to lead the project’s design, both inside and out. Though Col. Pritzker approached the firm with the development’s key design elements, Booth Hansen designers worked through a number of floor plans, eventually settling on one that's flexible for families and entertaining. Each unit along Chestnut Street boasts large kitchens, spacious outdoor decks, elevators, and third-floor kitchenettes.
One of the more complicated parts of the design? Choosing the right limestone for the exterior facades.
“Tawani wanted something that was warm and natural, but it’s not easy to find this light color limestone,” says Mike Staats, associate with Booth Hansen. “We had to go down to Texas to check it out and see if it’d work in that neighborhood, since Indiana quarries ran out of the Indiana buff commonly used in Chicago.”
Inside, tenants will find spaces outfitted with walnut trim, Calacatta Gold marble, and smart home controls. The development also features a shared outdoor courtyard with a fire pit, gas grills, and lounge chairs.
“The development provides elegant, timeless residences that connect people to the past while enhancing the beauty of the neighborhood now and in the future,” Col. Pritzker said in an email statement. “To preserve the neighborhood’s charm, the Chestnut Row Homes were thoughtfully designed as contemporary interpretations of the historic homes in the area.”
First residents begin move-ins on January 1, 2019.