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A First Look Inside Chicago's New Wolf Point West Tower

The new luxury high-rise faces stiff competition, but offers great views of the Chicago River

The once sleepy Wolf Point — a parcel of land that sits at the confluence of the Chicago River's north, south, and main branches — is waking up and will soon become home to hundreds of new residents. Ultimately, Wolf Point will become home to a trio of tall, glassy high-rises, which will offer new office space as well as apartments.

The new Wolf Point West tower, the first of the three to be completed, is currently receiving its finishing touches and has already welcomed its first residents. Designed by Chicago's bKL Architecture, the 48-story glassy tower will eventually have two neighboring high-rises designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli just to its east.

Nick Fochtman

The 509-unit tower opens at a time when the downtown Chicago rental market is witnessing a boom period. Developers are building new high-rises at a pace that feels reminiscent of the last big real estate boom Chicago witnessed before the Great Recession hit. And to stay competitive, developers are offering finishes and amenities that almost feel like those seen in higher end hotels. Renters paying $2,000 per month for a studio expect more than just a fitness center and a door person — they want amenities that are unique and useful. With the boom of brand new high-end apartment towers blanketing downtown Chicago, renters have more options than ever when it comes to location, amenities, and floor plans.

Wolf Point West isn't unlike other new downtown rental towers in the sense that it seeks to hit on the high-end market while offering some truly impressive views. While the amenity floor was not yet completed during our visit, we were able to step out on the penthouse-level balconies to soak up the sweeping views of downtown Chicago. Because of its location at the confluence of the Chicago River, Wolf Point West offers a fascinating view of Chicago — a straight shot down the river. CTA trains, cars, pedestrians and river tour boats can all be seen passing by, giving a sense of how dynamic Chicago really is.

Nick Fochtman

As for the units themselves, expect higher end finishes and solid views. When asked what prospective tenants says they like about the units at the new tower, Wolf Point West leasing agents tell us that renters like the location, views, finishes, and closet space. The tower's units feature bathrooms and closets that are larger than those found in competing properties, which in some cases, becomes the main selling point for renters.

Nick Fochtman

The tower comes from a partnership between Chicago's Magellan Development, the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust, Hines, and the the Kennedy family. The second tower for the Wolf Point site, which is expected to break ground early next year, will also be a residential tower. The Wolf Point stakeholders have approval to build a 750-foot tower at the east end of the site and a 950-foot tower at the southern tip of Wolf Point, so it's still hard to say how things will pan out when it comes to views from the east side of Wolf Point West.

While the Wolf Point property has been long underutilized, this section of the city has always had a visible role in Chicago symbolism. The Chicago municipal device, a Y-shaped symbol that is often found in the facades of older buildings, represents the splitting of the Chicago River into its north, south and main branches. Look close enough at some famous buildings, bridges, and manhole covers throughout the city, and you'll see the municipal device. It'd certainly be a wasted opportunity if Wolf Point West didn't cease on incorporating this important symbol into their finishes — but if you look around the lobby and the new riverwalk being constructed at the base of the tower, you'll find the municipal device.