CRE N Illinois

RMK Management: Demand for Chicago multi-family projects not about to slow

73 East Lake

The Central Station multi-family development in Evanston, Ill., managed by RMK Management Corp., has little in common with the 73 East Lake apartment development in Chicago's Loop, also managed by RMK. But both are examples of the strength of the Chicago-area multi-family market.

The Central Station multi-family development in Evanston, Ill., managed by RMK Management Corp., has little in common with the 73 East Lake apartment development in Chicago's Loop, also managed by RMK.

Central Station is attracting tenants who are looking for easy access to all that Chicago offers but prefer to live in a quieter, more residential neighborhood. The 73 East Lake development is located in the middle of the Chicago hustle-and-bustle, so its tenants tend to be younger and are interested in walking to the public transportation, restaurants and bars located around the Loop. They don't mind a bit of noise and crowds.

But both projects do have one thing in common: They're having little trouble attracting tenants. And that's a sign that the Chicago-area multi-family market remains a strong one today.

"The multi-family market is so positive today," said Diana Pittro, executive vice president with RMK Management. "There are so many areas, not just in Chicago but across the country, that are incredibly active. People are looking to invest in housing. Everyone needs a roof over their heads. Lenders, developers and owners are all interested in the multi-family industry today."

In late February, Central Station in Evanston -- just four months after welcoming its first move-ins -- surpassed the 50-percent leased milestone. Located at 1720 Central St. in a quieter pocket of Evanston, Central Station includes 80 apartments, 81 parking spaces and more than 10,700 square feet of street-level retail.

Residences here measure 590 to 1,485 square feet, with rents starting at $1,415 a month.

Anthony Rossi Sr., president of RMK Management Corp., said that Central Station is attracted a diverse range of tenants, everything from young professionals who work in downtown Chicago to families to older residents downsizing from single-family homes.

"We have a broad mix of residents here, which reinforces what many have been seeing in the luxury rental market," Rossi Sr. said. "There really isn't a 'typical renter' anymore."

Central Station is classified as a luxury apartment development, and its amenities reflect that. The development offers a fitness center, cyber lounge with coffee bar, LCD flat-screen televisions, a common outdoor terace, dry cleaning drop-off service and free Wi-Fi access in all common areas. The on-site parking program includes one space reserved for a Zipcar, which is available to residents.

The leasing office at 73 East Lake -- a 42-story apartment building in the Chicago Loop -- didn't open until March. Already, though, demand has been strong, Pittro said. The first tenants moved into the development in late April.

The property is the first luxury rental development in Chicago by developer M&R Development since it opened the well-received Parc Huron in Chicago's River North neighborhood in 2010.

72 East Lake includes 332 units from 694 to 1,246 square feet. Plans include convertible/studio-style layouts, one-bedroom/one-bath layouts and two-bedroom/two-bath layouts.

The units offer a high level of interior finishes, including GE stainless-steel appliances and Venatino Quartz countertops in the kitchens. Units come with full-sized in-unit washer and dryers.

The development's ninth and 10th floors include an indoor pool, spa with waterfall, sauna and steam rooms, fitness center, yoga/Pilates studio and business center.

Location is a big draw here, too. 73 East Lake is located near Millennium Park and scores of restaurants, shops and Chicago's famed museums.

Pittro said that she's not surprised by the demand for projects such as Central Station and 73 East Lake. Urban areas across the country, not just in Chicago, are seeing a multi-family boom as more consumers seek to either skip or leave the single-family-home environment and take advantage of the flexibility that comes with renting.

"Downtown Chicago is going crazy when it comes to multi-family," Pittro said. "But this is happening all over. Minneapolis is going great when it comes to multi-family. Then there are markets such as Washington, D.C., Boston and so much of Texas. They are all attracting new multi-family developments. The demand for apartment living is on the rise."