With this summer's debut of sleek residential tower The Sinclair, Fifield companies stakes its claim as the leader of Chicago's luxury rental scene.
The Sinclair, set to open this summer.
Visionaries change their worlds. They think big. They execute. But most significantly, they fill a need before we even know it’s there. Judging from the thousands of contented tenants who live in Randy and Steve Fifield’s luxurious Chicago towers—all architectural show-stoppers packed with exceptional amenities—the duo are visionaries of the highest order.
Recent projects seal their spot as the royal couple of luxe rentals: NEXT (347 W. Chestnut St., 312-361-3199) in River North; The Sinclair (1201 N. LaSalle Dr., 312-260-3712) in the Gold Coast; and 727 W. Madison (312-855-1600) in the West Loop, set for a 2018 delivery. Signature amenities—from gourmet coffee bars and dog runs to outdoor pools and yoga studios—reign supreme at NEXT and The Sinclair, but the latter “is the most over the top yet,” says Steve, pointing to a 35,000-square-foot outdoor deck (the city’s largest) and a fully stocked fitness center.
How did the pair hit on their current business model? Steve says it was Randy’s brainchild. “I’d done offices for decades, but Randy was a residential developer and talked me into doing a condo conversion with her in 1999,” he explains. “We never expected it to become the driver of what we’re doing today,” explains Randy.
But what a driver the residential efforts of this powerhouse couple—he an expert in financing and construction, she a design and marketing guru—turned out to be. In 2005, in a prescient move, the couple planned a development of five amenity-packed towers, together named K Station, on an eight-acre plot of land anchored by Kinzie Street in the then-emergent Fulton River District. The project not only saved the Fifields in the 2008 downturn, it changed the face of residential rentals in Chicago and beyond, as the pair refined their business model, upped the amenity ante with each new tower, and expanded to LA and Hawaii.
“We became totally data-driven, figured out what our renters wanted, and brought in the best to deliver,” Steve notes. With amenities that ranged from lightning-fast internet to the best fitness equipment on the market, the Fifields attracted renters with higher median incomes, raising demand for their apartments as well as their national standing as developers.
Despite the high occupancy rates the Fifields have achieved with their data-savvy, amenity-laden approach, they remain unassuming about their success. “No one cared about apartments when we started doing them,” says Randy. “The downturn benefited us, but we didn’t foresee it. We were just trying to deliver the best product possible.” Talk about being in the right place at the right time—with exactly the right vision.