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A Look At The Growing Micro Apartment Trend In Chicago

By Elizabeth Elstien

Along with New York, San Francisco, Seattle and several other large cities, Chicago is catching on to the growing micro-apartment boom to appeal to single renters who want to live by themselves but can't afford the monthly rents in better neighborhoods averaging about $900 for a studio and $1,200 for an one bedroom. Chicago is just one of many cities with an affordable-housing crisis. But are micro apartments in this city helping or hindering housing affordability?

Developer's Concept

FLATS Chicago is a large project being developed by Cedar Street Co. The company has purchased seven existing buildings housing 1,200 current apartments in the North Side lower-income Uptown and Edgewater neighborhoods. The buildings upon completion will have 275- to 350-square foot units, renting monthly from $800 for a studio to $1,400 for a two bedroom. Units will have granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances.

Perks for each unit include washer/dryer and free WIFI while common areas may include pool, library, sports club and area for entertaining. The addition of these common areas is an extension of living space making the tiny-apartment more appealing, while giving you more amenities for your money and creating a community feel to socialize with other residents.

The developer's concept is definitely a step above micro apartment developments in other cities. Aptly termed by the developer as "big style, smart space." However, some issues will need to be resolved, such as increased need for parking or storage space.

Affordable Housing Versus Homeless

Buildings being developed are currently single-resident occupancy (SRO) housing, typically run-down hotels, where tenants may share bathrooms, kitchens or other common areas. While repairing and preserving the structure of older slum-type brick buildings instead of tearing them down is highly commendable, displacing its economically disadvantaged, long-term residents is not. Many former tenants wish to stay in the area where they have lived for years and have built viable community connections to local stores, doctors and others.

Homes For All

Much to its credit, Cedar Street Co. is working with a transition housing coordinator to find affordable, long-term housing for the former tenants who paid as little as $475 a month. The company is also working with an Uptown-based neighborhood affordable housing nonprofit to keep these tenants within the community with the developer even considering maintaining a certain percentage of FLATS apartments at much lower pricing with rent subsidies to keep the tenants in place after the remodel. Young, single adults with affordable housing and low-income building residents all will soon have housing that works for them as the developer works to rebuilt and preserve area structures and community to find homes for all.

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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