Multifamily N Illinois

Chicago luxury apartment rental market evolving, bounds ahead of for-sale product

Chicago luxury rental market evolving, bounds ahead of for sale product,ph01
Aaron Galvin

by Sara Freund

Staff Writer

When Aaron Galvin started Luxury Living Chicago Realty in 2007, high-end apartments were seen as the step renters took before making the leap to ownership. Back then, condominiums were far superior in services and amenities compared to the top rental buildings. The best a renter could hope for was a washer and dryer in-unit and maybe granite countertops if they were lucky, Galvin said. Now the luxury rental market has caught up in quality, and is surpassing what's for sale.

The idea that neighborhoods are a discount from downtown living is changing, Galvin said. When the city implemented the TOD ordinance developers expanded into the neighborhoods providing Luxury Living an opportunity to offer its brokerage services in new locations. Since then, Luxury Living Chicago has been the exclusive broker for luxury projects in Logan Square, West Loop, West Town and more.

“Across the board, we’re seeing there is absolutely a pent up demand for luxury apartments in Chicago’s neighborhoods,” Galvin said.

High end apartments today encompass all aspects of the building from the sleek black mailroom that texts you when your package arrives (a service called Luxer One) to the black and gold, indirect lighting fixtures in the hallway. Those features and finishes, at Centrum Bucktown apartments, are just the start.

Luxury Living Chicago is responsible for leasing at Centrum Bucktown, a project developed by Centrum Partners.

The 94-unit building offers a community lounge geared toward tenants who want to entertain or need a place to work from home. The space features an open floor plan with seating clusters, a pool table, a kitchen and an outside seating area. Residents also have access to a rooftop area with lounge chairs, a firepit and grills plus a gym and a designated dog run. If you're looking for top of the line finishes, they've installed Abaco by Snaidero cabinetry, Balterio gray-tone plank flooring and pearl quartz countertops within the units.

Residents are also within an arm's reach of organic produce, specialty European chocolate and craft beer now that Aldi anchors the ground-level retail space. And would luxury, really be complete without a brunch spot? Yolk restaurant will have counter-service on the building's first floor and several restaurants, including Small Cheval and Ipsento Coffee, have opened up nearby.

These types of amenities are common in River North apartment towers, but an offer like Centrum Bucktown is a first for the neighborhood. The rents range from $2,295 for a one-bedroom up to a $4,595 for a three-bedroom. A few years ago, those price points didn't exist in Bucktown, Wicker Park or other neighborhoods and that's because downtown was the primary place for luxury apartments.

Spending that much on rent in Bucktown might make some consider the for sale market. But even if someone was interested buying, nothing at that level exists in the neighborhood. "There isn't anything like it on the market," Galvin said.

Downtown residents are used to seeing high-rises go up all the time. Outside of that, it's not the standard, so it's important to "fit into the fabric" of the surrounding area. Galvin made it a priority to develop partnerships with neighborhood associations, emphasize an interest in lifting up small businesses and embrace the neighborhood.

"Being true to the neighborhood you are in is very important. We don't shout that these are luxury, high-end apartments. That doesn't resonate with the tenants we're trying to reach," Galvin said.

In order to stay ahead of the curve, Galvin gets involved with the developments early. It's not enough to put washers and dryers in the unit or have beautiful granite counter tops. He works with developers to help them understand new trends and monitors what picks up in the LA, New York or European markets.

That also means elevating how people find an apartment as well. Luxury Living Chicago uses virtual reality technology when leasing new apartments to help renters envision what their space could look like.. Instead of spending hours touring apartments, sending emails back and forth with an agent or looking at unfinished construction, it might only take 30 minutes on a couch in an office to find that dreamy, sun-filled apartment.