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Inside the Loop’s new Linea apartment tower

Its great location and novelty “theme song” should have prospective renters nodding to the beat

Historically a busy business center that shutdown into a ghost town after 6 PM, Chicago’s Loop is in the midst of a transformation into a true 24-hour neighborhood where people want to not only work but also live and play. Eager to be part of the Loop’s residential renaissance, the architect/developer team of Moceri+Roszak has taken the wraps off of Linea—a new 33-story apartment tower at 215 W. Lake Street.

Located just feet from the popular Chicago Riverwalk and a short “bridge hop” from the dining and nightlife of River North, this trendy lifestyle building started pre-leasing last week ahead of an anticipated tenant move-in date of June 1st. We stopped by to see what it is all about.

Though flanked in all directions by taller skyscrapers, Linea has a big street presence thanks to its crisp lines, all glass facade with alternating bands of reflectivity, and the mint green horizontal spandrels between each of its 33 levels. If that wasn’t enough to grab your attention, the motion-activated colored theatrical lights suspended above the sidewalk on Lake Street most certainly will.

Inside, an ultra-contemporary lobby more closely resembles something you’d find in a boutique hotel rather than a typical apartment building greets visitors with thumping music (more on that in a moment). The ground floor space features plenty of seating, glass-walled leasing offices, and mismatched clusters of colorful pendant lights.

The walls sport geometric stenciling reminiscent of bridge trusses as well as famous quotes including the word “line,” giving Linea its namesake. Big Shoulders Coffee has been tapped to occupy the first of Linea’s three Lake Street retail bays and will eventually directly connect to the building’s residential lobby.

While the 19th century Osborne & Adams Leather Co. building that previously occupied this site was sadly knocked down last year to make way for the new tower, a window bay salvaged from old structure’s Italianate limestone facade has found a home in the lobby as a mirror.

Constructed just after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the now-destroyed building also served as a recording studio and Linea’s developer tapped one of its former music producer tenants to commission a building theme song. Broadcasting on a loop in all four of the model units we toured, the tune is very catchy. Maybe a little too catchy. It also auto-plays on the building’s official website.

Moving skyward, Linea’s 265 relatively small but highly efficient units are laid out in such a way that living, dining, and working spaces are clearly delineated for future residents. “Our floor plans are really set up in a way where you can come in and you know how to organize your life,” explained architect Thomas Roszak. “Our kitchens are nice and big for socializing ... Every unit has a dedicated work area for a laptop for students or people working from home. We planned the bedrooms for a Queen-sized bed to be centered on the wall and not shoved in the corner like a dormitory.”

Apartments in Linea start around $1,900 per month for a studio and can approach $5,000 for some of the nicer three-bedroom apartments. Though large, bright, and thoughtfully laid out, the units’ kitchens are unmistakably “rental grade” when it comes to the finishes. The bathrooms are also well-sized in even the tower’s smallest sub-500 square foot units—though this is more inline with accessibility requirements than a conscious design choice.

All living spaces feature unfinished concrete ceilings—a decidedly modern look that requires lots of natural light to avoid appearing drab and oppressive. Luckily, sunlight is not an issue at Linea thanks to sound-insulated floor to ceiling glass. Every apartment also includes at least one protruding pseudo “Chicago style” bay window that allows occupants to enjoy wider-angle views of the urban environment or even to wave to the neighbors. The outwards views are surprisingly impressive given the tower’s incredibly dense urban surroundings.

Linea offers a full suite of programmed building amenities including an indoor-outdoor pool, sundeck, sky lounge, dog run, doggie spa, media room, billiards room, library, fitness center, and a so-called “eco terrace”. While none of these communal spaces were open at the time of our walk-through, the tower’s developers did provide high-resolution renderings of the Linea’s ample amenities being enjoyed by young—and perhaps unrealistically photogenic—digital tenants.

While the whole “it’s more than a just building, it’s a lifestyle” thing might not appeal to everyone, Linea is a solid addition to the northwest corner of Chicago’s Loop. Given its excellent location and the seemingly bottomless supply of younger professionals looking to live right in the heart of the city’s central business district, the development should do very well indeed. And if Moceri+Roszak’s past experience with the JeffJack apartments is any indication of the future, it would not be surprising to see the developers eventually flip the building for a handy profit.