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8 Chicago Apartment Towers That Feature Awesome Amenities

As Chicago's residential market rebounded from the recession, the brightest spot for new high-rise construction over the last few years has been rental housing. While Chicago has a long history of rental options, it truly is the newest buildings that stand out among the crowd in the amenities category, even as older properties are upgrading to offer tenants more. Beyond the typical offerings of barbecue areas, bicycle storage and perhaps a exercise room and pool, newer buildings are providing a lifestyle type atmosphere which expands one's living space beyond the traditional apartment. Reoccurring themes present among the newer buildings includes expansive common areas, large fitness centers, big outdoor spaces, fully equipped party rooms with kitchens as well as resident lounges and club rooms placed throughout the building, including on high floors which would otherwise hold more high-value rentable space. This easily allows residents who rent smaller, cheaper units on low floors with limited views to still enjoy the perks of high-rise living as if they had a larger unit on a high floor, and from a renter's perspective, that's probably a good thing because these new buildings by Chicago standards, are pricey places to live. With the help of local real estate news and info site YoChicago, we've highlighted ten developments with some of the very best amenity offerings in the city.

[Photos courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago]

JeffJack Apartments, 601 W. Jackson Boulevard, West Loop
Recently finished JeffJack is located as the name suggests, at the intersection of Jefferson Street and Jackson Boulevard. The site was a former surface parking lot nestled among industrial loft buildings, most of which have since taken on a office or residential use. The structure hugs the intersection with mostly residential space, pushing the majority of the parking garage into the interior of the block, creating a secluded area for the main outdoor space area on a large landscaped roof deck placed over the parking levels. This outdoor space features a lots of landscaping and a outdoor dog run. At the top of the building, the 15th floor features the bulk of the amenity offerings, including a business center, a gigantic resident lounge wrapped with floor to ceiling windows, pool table, fireplace, indoor pool and hot tub, and a large fitness center. The indoor pool is housed in a room with a movable wall of windows, converting it to an outdoor space when the weather permits, creating a seamless space spreading onto on outdoor deck with a westward exposure, looking out towards Greektown and the mostly low to mid-rise West Loop beyond.

[Photos via Optima Center Chicago]

Optima City Center, 200 East Illinois Street, Streeterville
Finished in mid 2013, Optima Chicago Center is a David Hovey-designed building just east of Michigan Avenue, built on the site of a long incomplete project which first began construction in the late 1990s. A second rental apartment building combined with a hotel is now also underway with foundation work for that tower recently competed. The next building will complete the redesigned complex which will have three buildings in total, including the Fairbanks, a condo building at the east end of the block, fronting Columbus Drive. Optima rises 42 stories with a sleek facade of blue and black glass, in which two slits in the otherwise textureless exterior give away the location of the amenities. Just above the parking levels draped in Darth Vador black is the tenth floor "Fitness and Aquatic Center" featuring a 15 meter indoor pool, hot tub, huge fitness center, basketball court, sauna and steam rooms and a southern exposure outdoor terrace within the front facade's first slit. Then, higher up the second slit gives way to a terrace on the 32nd floor and the building's club room. The room is furnished with leather seating, table tennis, pool table, fireplace, two catering kitchens and a coffee bar. Above that, this building features a third floor of amenities on the rooftop with a garden, sun deck, fire pits and a second hot tub.

[Images via 500 Lake Shore Drive]

500 Lake Shore Drive, Streeterville
Finished in May of 2013, Related Midwest developed 500 North Lakeshore Drive on a former surface parking lot that was supposed to be larger condo tower before the recession took hold. The SCB-designed 47 story tower has 500 units and also breaks the amenities into two areas. The tower has the parking garage offset to the south, the roof of which, lines up with the building's 11th floor and features an outdoor deck with a pool, cabanas and a fire pit. Inside is a large Equinox-branded fitness center, media room with a flat screen TV and club rooms on both the 11th floor and the 45th floor. The building also features a catering kitchen and on-site Zipcar car sharing.

[Photos by Nick Fochtman]

OneEleven, 111 W. Wacker Drive, the Loop
OneEleven is one of the Loop's priciest apartment buildings and that hefty rent comes with a plethora of amenities. The building sports a full floor of various amenities, including a lounge, pool area, screening room, fitness center and indoor/outdoor pool. However, the greatest amenity is OneEleven's multi-level outdoor deck space. The sprawling deck features cabanas, grills a firepit and a pool deck. With interiors designed by New York's Kara Mann, OneEleven is one of the more stylish towers to enter Chicago's rental market.

[Photos courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago]

North Water Apartments, 340 East North Water Street, Streeterville
The recently completed North Water apartments sit above the Loews Hotel, but unlike the residential units in Aqua (which also has a hotel in the building), the amenity spaces at this new tower are completely separate from the hotel, yet residents still have access to all the amenities the hotel has to offer. The tower has a rectilinear form sitting above a 'L' shaped hotel podium. The podium roof located 15 floors above street level, serves as the main amenity deck including an outdoor pool and a lounge area with a flat screen TV and gas grills. Indoor areas include a conference room, media and sitting rooms, business center and coffee bar. The building also includes a second amenity floor at the 50th floor with amazing views looking out towards Ogden Slip, Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. The indoor portion has another media center and a full service kitchen arraigned in a open floor plan. This 50th level space also includes a sundeck facing south, east and west while rising above the neighboring buildings to not only providing a relatively shadow free location for sunbathing, but also giving access to great views. While views within a dense and active urban neighborhood should never be considered a permanent feature, the views from this level could be considered a bonus amenity as the tower is located adjacent to a view corridor set aside years ago during the initial approval of Planned Development 368, which covers most of South Streeterville. The view corridor ruins westward from the end of Ogden Slip to the historic Tribune Tower and is the reason why the Lowes/North Water building is situated at the south end of the block with only a low-rise ballroom structure for the hotel on the north end of the tower.

[Photos courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago]

73 East Lake, Eastern Loop
Like many other new properties, 73 East Lake Street also boasts amenities split between upper and lower portions of the building, and despite having a smaller amount of units than some of the other recently built contenders, 73 East Lake is packed with offerings. The building was completed in May of 2014, is 42 stories and 332 units and was sandwiched into a mid-block site surrounded by other tall buildings, however the lack of a view from any apartment is made up for with the amenity space on the top floor which then spills outward to an outdoor roof deck featuring a fire pit and cabanas. The indoor section of this top floor space features a resident lounge with huge floor to ceiling window walls, a bar and private dinning room with direct access to an outdoor terrace. In the lower portion of the building, the remainder of the amenities are split into two floors which include an indoor pool with a adjacent whirlpool, steam room and sauna, two additional resident lounges, demonstration kitchen, a business center with two conference rooms and media room with theater style projection. The fitness center on the tenth floor overlooks the pool area and has an independent room serving as a yoga studio. A setback on the parking podium allows the ninth floor to spill outward onto another outdoor terrace with seating and fire pits.

[Photos courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago]

Aqua, 225 North Columbus Drive, Eastern Loop/Illinois Center (New East Side)
Aqua at Lakeshore East has been talked about quite a bit in the world of architecture, and that is largely because of its uniqueness in design and not just from its wavy outward appearance created by the playfulness of its balconies. The building is truly a marvel of mixed use tower, featuring retail, office space (including the studio of architecture firm bKL), a 334-room Radisson Blu Hotel, 474 rental apartments, 262 condos, nine townhouses and parking for 1,271 cars in a garage discreetly tucked below street level thanks to the three levels of elevated streets. This vertical city has its own park in the form of one of the largest roof decks in Chicago, open to all in the building, including hotel guests. The outdoor deck includes a large pool and hot tub, cabanas, fire pit and setting areas. Large portions of the deck have extensive landscaping and through it all is a running track with circumference of 1/5 mile. Inside, a verity of rooms offer lounge spaces, a media center, game roof with a pool table, basketball court, massive fitness center with separate cardio room, business center with conference rooms and a indoor lap pool as well. Aqua also features electric car charging in the garage and has on-site car sharing with both Zipcar and I-Go as well as direct access to the subterranean pedway system.

Randolph Tower, 188 West Randolph Street, Central Loop

[Photos courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago]

Randolph Tower is new building carved out of a vintage high-rise. This ornate, terra cotta adorned Gothic Revival tower was built in 1929 and once house The Steuben Club, a German cultural and social club. The building fell into a state of severe disrepair at the turn of the 21st century, to the point in which scaffolding was erected above Randolph Street to protect the passerby from falling terra cotta and the upper most portion of the building was threatened with demolition in the name of public safety. The building was completely renovated inside and out by Village Green, a Detroit area based company which has restored other old office towers into rental properties including the Fisher Building and the MDA City Apartments. What makes this older building particularly unique is its massive indoor pool under skylights, a leftover feature from its days as The Steuben Club. The pool sits in a roof top location with an adjacent outdoor terrace and steam and sauna rooms. The interior renovation was designed in a distinctly modern style with a bright color pallet and amenities include a business center with conference room, theater style media center, game room with pool table, various lounge spaces and a full kitchen and bar. The fitness center sits in palatial setting, flanked by huge Gothic windows and shares the space with sitting areas and a human sized chess set. Apartments in this polished gem of building began occupancy in early 2012. —Shawn Ursini

·Curbed Comparisons archives [Curbed Chicago]
·Apartment Boom Town archives [Curbed Chicago]
·Renters Week 2015 archives [Curbed Chicago]


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