Chicago’s Fulton Market District in the West Loop has emerged as one of Chicago’s trendiest spots. A testament to the neighborhood’s recent success, the new 29-story Parker Fulton Market towers over the southeast corner of Lake and Halsted like a glassy exclamation point. Developed as a joint venture between Shapack Partners, Focus Development, and Atlantic Realty Partners, the 227-unit rental building is abuzz with activity as it prepares to welcome its first residents. The project not only represents the newest luxury residential offering in Fulton Market, but perhaps provides a glimpse into the near future of this rapidly-developing neighborhood.
The Parker Fulton Market’s most striking design feature is its parabolic shape resembling the bow of a great ship. "When we first sat down with the architects at Booth Hansen, we were looking at a rectangular building," explains Tim Anderson of Focus Development. "But since the other buildings on Halsted sit parallel with the highway, we thought about rotating our orientation. Ultimately we decided on this elliptical curve solution."
Thanks to its arcing design, the majority of units are provided with an the eastward skyline view. The downtown vista, however, isn’t the only perspective that has the Parker’s developers excited. "While the views of the city are amazing, I think the westward view over the top of Fulton Market, is just as incredible," says Jeffrey Shapack of Shapack Partners. The cantilever over the western sidewalk not only creates more room for pedestrians, but also provides uninterrupted views north and south from the western units. "If you look up Halsted, you can see all the way to the Apple Store on North Avenue."
Accessed not on busy Halsted Street but on the dead-end of Couch Place, the Parker’s entrance and lobby take inspiration from the experience one would get staying at a boutique hotel. The upholstered lobby desk surrounded by blackened steel wall coverings more closely resembles a concierge post than a typical doorman’s desk. The lobby also features a unique back wall with an array of fiber optic lighting elements cast directly into polished concrete panels. Booth Hansen CEO Larry Booth describes the wall as a reflection of the the Parker’s overall material programing. "It’s luxury," explains the architect, "but it’s luxury you can put your feet up on." The lobby, as well as the hallways on floors 5 through 29 will also feature steel-framed repurposed segments of a Fulton Market-themed mural created by street artist Don’t Fret on the facade of the shuttered hardware store the Parker ultimately replaced.
On the residential floors, the hotel theme continues thanks to darkly painted hallways and a keyless entry system. Units are finished to a very fine standard with wide plank floors, stainless Whirlpool appliances, built-in USB charging outlets, soft-close kitchen cabinetry, high-quality window shades, wireless Nest thermostats, and full-sized washer/dryer units. Bathrooms feature subway tile, custom-installed mirrors with LED backlighting, and rain showers with their controls thoughtfully located well clear of the water’s stream. While certainly visible from the outside, the Parker’s insert balconies are subtle and were designed not to distract from the building’s strikingly smooth geometry. "Think of them as the intake vents for the submarine," jokes Larry Booth.
Chicago’s red-hot luxury rental market has resulted in a virtual amenities arms race among new buildings and the Parker certainly competes with the best of them. The building’s sixth floor indoor/outdoor space dubbed "The Commons" is optimized for both relaxation and productivity with large communal desks pulling double duty as workstations by day and ping-pong tables by night. The room features a chef's kitchen and is staged as a collection of smaller, more intimate spaces. It can be physically partitioned-off for private parties.
Meanwhile the outdoor deck includes a good-sized pool, fire pits, shade-providing trellises, and a large swath of real grass. A large staircase from the 6th floor draws natural light down to a 5th floor gym that features state-of-the-art equipment and a yoga studio with on-demand fitness instructional videos. This level also features the building’s outdoor "dog patch" as well as dog shower to wash away any mud or sand collected during canine field trips.
Easily the crown jewel of the Parker’s collection of amenities is its 29th floor lounge which offers an uninterrupted panoramic view across the tower’s parabolic eastern face. Though still being built-out, the space gives every resident access to the building’s highest vantage point and will include a living room, kitchen and dining facilities, and a fire pit exposed to the sky above thanks a circulator overhead oculus.
The Parker is really the first development of this caliber to be delivered since Fulton Market officially became "a thing" and tenants like Google started moving in. Based on the development’s elegant design, prime location, extensive amenities, and fine attention to detail it will likely serve as the new standard against which future multifamily residential developments in the booming West Loop will be judged. Rents in the Parker Fulton Market start around $1,750 for a studio unit and can exceed $5,000 for a larger three-bedroom apartment.