More and more, Chicago's upscale new residential developments aren't just offering a place to rest your head—they're building communities with features that bring tenants together and fulfill their every need.
At New City, “There’s a greater desire [on the part of residents] to have more common space,” says Bucksbaum Retail Properties CEO John Bucksbaum of the amenity-packed development.
When Bucksbaum Retail Properties founder and CEO John Bucksbaum joined the New City (1457 N. Halsted St., 312-578-8444) development in 2011, he saw it as a one-of-a-kind opportunity: to build not just a residential property but a community. “To have just about everything you need within your building or your nearby surroundings is a great benefit,” he says, adding, “I have always felt that retail and residential go well together. Here you have a residence with a grocery store, movie theater, several restaurants—this had all the ingredients and subsets that in my mind would make for a community.”
Those ingredients include a prime location near the expansive Clybourn Corridor shopping district (think Apple, Anthropologie, Athleta, and Sephora), a Fitness Formula Clubs gym, and on-site entertainment venues like ArcLight Cinemas and Kings Bowl, along with a host of area bars and restaurants. Amenities at the 199-unit property ensure residents can do it all without setting foot outside the premises, from a swimming pool and hot tub to a deck, fitness room with separate yoga studio, conference rooms, and a cyber café/business center. “We’ve found there’s a willingness to have a smaller apartment and a greater desire to have more common space, and residents will spend more time there rather than in apartments,” says Bucksbaum of NewCity’s approach. “They will eventually need to leave for doctors’ appointments or to go to the symphony, but from a food and entertainment perspective, they will be well taken care of.”
The idea of a development fostering a community isn’t new. Early adopters were Magellan Development Group co-CEOs Jim Loewenberg and Joel Carlins, whose vision for a village within Chicago’s New East Side where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan resulted in Lakeshore East (225 N. Columbus Dr., 312-493-8200), a master-planned community on the 28-acre site of a former golf course and bounded by East Randolph Street, Columbus Drive, Wacker Drive, and Lake Shore Drive. Not just a building for people to live in, the $4 billion project has created a vibrant new downtown neighborhood with an expansive, lush six-acre park; the Village Market with retail, restaurants, and a Mariano’s; its own school in GEMS World Academy; and a primo, walk-to-work location.
Community is so important at Lakeshore East, says Magellan Development Chief Marketing Officer Robin Tebbe, that the company has created its own position dedicated to interfacing with residents—the unofficial “Mayor of Lakeshore East.” Notes Tebbe, “This position really is the heart and soul of the community, leading residents in social activities like movies in the park, social hours, and special events.”
In the white-hot district west of downtown, luxe rental development Gateway West Loop (11 S. Green St., 877-380-1952) is taking advantage of the neighborhood’s burgeoning popularity to create its own urban community, says Regional Property Manager Tracy Peacock. “The West Loop is an attractive living environment with tree-lined streets, parks, excellent transportation, and growth,” Peacock enthuses. “We wanted to really capture that [energy].” The building’s urban-friendly amenities include an outdoor rooftop pool, fire pits, a fitness center, grilling stations, and a community floor room with TV, lounge, and bar area. Peacock says that Gateway’s strong sense of community comes from attention to service and the quality of the building’s staff, who have been selected based on their knowledge of the neighborhood. “Residents appreciate the quality [of life] in the building,” she says, summing up the appeal of developments like Gateway West Loop. “[We’re striving] to cater to their needs and make them always feel at home.”