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Inside The Hudson: River North’s latest luxury apartment tower

The 25-story building is the first of three Chicago projects from an ambitious north-of-the-border developer

With 4,500 new rental units in the immediate pipeline, there’s little doubt that Chicago’s downtown residential market makes waves outside of the Midwest. Surging demand and an abundance of developable sites has attracted a lot of investment to the Windy City, including a significant commitment from new-comer the Onni Group. The British Columbia-based developer is working on three projects in and near downtown and just started leasing apartments in The Hudson—a new 25-story tower at the northwest edge of River North

While Onni may not necessarily be a developer most Chicagoans are familiar with, the firm has ambitions to make a big splash in the local real estate scene. “We’ve had great success in Vancouver and Toronto, but the markets there were getting crowded,” said Onni’s Brian Brodeur. “We then saw an opportunity coming out of the recession to come down to Chicago and invest in great sites at a great price.”

Previously a vacant lot at the corner of Chicago and Hudson avenues, the site of the Hudson is just a stone's throw from the old Montgomery Ward Company Complex that houses Groupon and other high-tech startups. Though River North has been exploding with new apartment construction, this corner of the vibrant downtown neighborhood hasn’t seen a significant rental development come online since the 221-unit Parc Huron opened back in 2010.

“Our location is close to it all without being in the heart of it. It’s convenient to the highway for residents working in the suburbs,” continued Brodeur. The positioning of the development also pays dividends when it comes to views. Instead of being nose-to-nose with neighboring skyscrapers, the brand new Hudson has good separation from River North’s taller towers and is immediately bordered by low-rise homes and vacant land (at least, vacant for the immediate future).

While just about every new downtown rental development touts the “condo-like” quality of its units, the Hudson actually delivers when it comes to the finishes of its 240 apartments. With Onni’s background primarily in condominium development, the firm isn’t one to cheaply construct and then flip its buildings, as is all too common among some Chicago apartment developers.

Two fully furnished model units—a two-bedroom and a one-bed plus “flex space”—were available during our tour. With keyless fob and bluetooth entry, full-sized washers and dryers, high-end kitchen finishes, and a private outdoor space offered in every unit, the Hudson is well positioned to undergo a condo conversion—should the Chicago market move again in that direction. The still under-construction penthouse units at the tower’s pinnacle were particularly impressive and feature large terraces with fantastic skyline views.

In the highly competitive world of new downtown rentals, building amenities play an ever important role. In this area, The Hudson is definitely on par with other newly-delivered buildings. Though not fully furnished at the time of our tour, the Hudson’s 20,000 square feet of communal space is contemporary, thoughtfully laid out, and refreshingly low on gimmicks.

Highlights include a fourth floor lounge, game room, demonstration kitchen, indoor/outdoor private dining room, fitness center, yoga studio, and sauna. Though not yet open, the building’s large outdoor terrace with fire pits, cabanas, dog run, and pool looks promising—if official renderings are any indication.

Designed by Chicago architect Pappageorge Haymes, The Hudson sports a glass and painted concrete facade that is fairly contextual to the existing Montgomery Ward complex, if not a bit understated. The building meets the sidewalk with 10,000 square feet of retail and recently signed Starbucks to occupy the corner space at Chicago and Kingsbury.

As its first full in-house Chicago effort, Onni has set the bar high for its future projects. In addition to The Hudson, the firm is behind the multi-phased high-rise redevelopment of Atrium Village—a project now officially dubbed “Old Town Park.” The Canadian firm also still plans to redevelop the site of the former Clark & Barlow hardware store at 353 W. Grand despite Ald. Brendan Reilly pumping the brakes on a previous 32-story proposal back in 2015.