So, What Are the Options?

MAC Property Management
Locations: More than 70 different locations throughout the Hyde Park area
Amenities: Expect extreme variations between units. Some newly renovated units offer dishwashers, microwaves, apartment washer-dryer units, and fitness centers. Many units have hardwood floors, walk-in closets, and bicycle storage areas.
Rent Range:
Studio/Sleeper (studio without kitchen) $490-$850
One-bedroom $700-$1125
Two-bedroom $935-$1450
Three-bedroom $1275-$1700
Four-bedroom $1890-$2800
Five-plus bedrooms $2150-$3200
Pros: The wide variety of MAC’s properties allows lessees to be very specific about what they want in an apartment and about how much they are willing to spend. MAC has excellent customer service in their office, and are constantly working to improve relations with their tenants. They also offer a 24-hour emergency hotline, and boast friendly maintenance workers. Additionally, they own so many properties that there will always be someone with whom you can kvetch about inadequacies.
Cons: MAC is the largest landlord in Hyde Park, and some feel that renting from them is inevitable. This means that MAC can get away with raising rents and providing inconsistent resident services. As a result, it often takes a long time to complete a work-order. There is a non-refundable one-time move in fee, and it takes one month for MAC to prepare an apartment for new tenants.
User comments: “Our apartment’s pretty cheap, and we’re getting what we paid for.” —Anonymous tenant
Notes: MAC acquired fifty properties overnight in April 2007 from K&G, the former big-name in Hyde Park landlords. Unfortunately, many of these properties needed a lot of work; MAC employees joke that some units had not been updated or properly cleaned since K&G acquired them. As a result, MAC is still playing catch-up to bring units up-to-date. Resident Service Manager Kai Clarke says, “I think we have a very good relationship with our tenants. We try to provide them with as many services as we can…with a smiley face.” MAC’s eventual goal is to renovate all of their properties.
Contacts: MAC Property Management leasing office, 1364 E. 53rd St. (773) 548-5077. macapartments.com (Rebecca Kilberg)

McKey and Poague
Locations: Hyde Park, Woodlawn, and surrounding areas
Amenities: Laundry room, bike room
Rent range:
Studio $650-$800
1-bedroom $750-$1000 (cheaper garden units available)
2-bedroom $1000-$1500
3-bedroom $1500
4-bedroom $2000
Pros: Heat included, attentive to student needs, very concerned with good management and customer service.
Cons: No website, no company email address, hard to access.
User comments: “I haven’t had any problems with the management, and I love my apartment. I would definitely say my experience [with McKey and Poague] has been universally better than my experience with K&G.” –Anonymous tenant
Contact: McKey & Poague, 1348 E. 55th St. (773)363-6200.
wallyjp@spc.global.net (Sam Bowman and Bonnie Kate Walker)

Parker-Holsman
Locations: Throughout Hyde Park
Amenities: Vary, but can include dishwashers, heating, parking, and air conditioning in addition to laundry and water
Rent Range:
Studio $660
1-bedroom $950
2-bedroom $1100-$1800 (cheaper garden units available)
3-bedroom $1500
House $2500
Pros: Free laundry in some units, friendly and responsive maintenance staff, gas and water included.
Cons: Wide range in available units, so your experience may vary.
User comments: “Gas and water are included in my rent, and my apartment is really nice, with a huge kitchen and even a dishwasher… It’s been nice living here.”– Anonymous tenant
Contact: Parker-Holsman Company, 1461 E. 57th St. (773)493-2525. rental@parkerholsman.com (Sam Bowman)

Regents Park
Locations: 5020-5050 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Amenities: “Like living in a hotel,” boasts their website. Regents Park is a classy affair, down to the plush white carpeting in every apartment. The complimentary computer and printing center for residents lets you save what you might spend on other amenities, like Regents’ indoor pool, workout facility, and parking garage, which cost extra bucks. Forget waiting in line for quarters: in-house laundry is made easy with a pay-as-you go card.
Rent range: Studios start at $900
One-bedroom start at $1300
Two-bedrooms start at $1800
Four-bedrooms start at $2400
Pros: CTA buses 172 and 6 stop just out front, as does the University of Chicago’s East Route. Convenient (albeit overpriced) 24-hour “Market in the Park” meets all your last-minute shopping needs. Feel safe with around-the-clock front desk security. Some units have incredible views of Lake Michigan.
Cons: It’s rather pricey, and utilities are not included. And sorry, Scrappy: no pets allowed.
User comments: “Regents management was always prompt when we asked them to fix anything in our apartment.” – Lynn Kahn
Contact: (773)288-5050 or regentsparkchicago.com (Rachel Reed)

Blackstone Management
Locations: 54th and Woodlawn
Amenities: Some properties have off-street parking (for a monthly fee), a front porch, a dishwasher, and a second bathroom. All properties have a back porch, intercom system, laundry room, and bike rack. Heat is included in the rent.
Rent Range:
Two-bedroom $1000-$1800
Three-bedroom $1000-$1800
Pros: Great location, moderately priced, large apartments.
Cons: One month’s rent security deposit required with lease, landlords are difficult to reach and get along with, overflowing bike racks.
User comments: “They manipulate grey areas in their leases and in the building code to bully their tenants…Also, the landlord is never in their office, never responds to phone calls, and only seems to show up at my apartment when the neighbors have had a party and they want to yell at me.” —Eric Hanss
Notes: You’d be hard-pressed to find a better location than 54th and Woodlawn. It’s only a block away from Kimbark Plaza (with restaurants, a CVS, a grocery store, a liquor store, and a laundromat) and Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap, and only a few more blocks from the University campus. Unfortunately, Blackstone tenants almost always report problems with the landlord. Requests for repairs are often fulfilled late (if at all), Blackstone employees claim that back porches can’t be used except in emergencies, and tenant-landlord relations are tense and often acrimonious. Nevertheless, some find the location and the charming century-old apartments worth the trouble. Leases begin on June 15.
Contact: Blackstone Management, 5413 S. Woodlawn Ave. (773)667-1568 (Sam Feldman)

South of the Midway
Given its proximity to the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, the Social Service Administration, the Law School, and the Pritzker School of Medicine, the residential area south of the Midway Plaisance has been traditionally favored by graduate and professional school students. More undergraduates, though, are filling apartments on the stretch along 61st Street between Ellis and Kimbark. With additional University of Chicago Police Department security in the area because of the opening of the new South Campus Residence Hall, students seem to feel safer than they have in the past. “This year, with the highly increased student population on this block, increased police visibility, and installation of new street lights, things feel safer, even if that is not necessarily the case,” says third-year undergraduate and Burton-Judson resident Michael Tracht.

Several of the area’s buildings are owned and leased by private landlords, including David C. Lubin, Robin Kaufman, and Tim and Kathleen O’Connell. TLC Management Co. also rents one building in the area. Rates are relatively low–especially when compared with MAC–for high-quality and spacious apartments, many of which are recently renovated. For those who spend late nights on campus, the UofC South route serves the area. The CTA #170 loops around the Midway, providing service to the hospital, professional schools, and Metra tracks.

There are, however, serious disadvantages to living south of the Midway. Currently there are no major grocery stores, pharmacies, dry cleaners, laundry services, or other amenities close to residents. Backstory Café at 61st and Blackstone, and Daley’s at 63rd and Cottage Grove, both offer good food in a pleasant atmosphere, but still the area lacks the the variety of restaurants found on bustling 57th, 55th, and 53rd Streets. The 61st Street Farmers Market provides fresh produce for the neighborhood, but only on Saturdays from mid-May through December. As students and others move south, businesses will likely follow, but for now the options are limited. (Natalie Doss)

Co-ops
Traditional living situations aren’t the only options for housing in Hyde Park. Many students and community members have found their place in cooperative living. For students, co-ops can provide a great transitional stage between the dorm and an apartment, especially for those who are hesitant about leaving the social atmosphere that a dorm provides. “It’s really fun and a nice social experience,” says Emily Lines, a former resident at Concord House, which is part of the Qumbya co-op. “It also helped me learn a lot about living with other people, and what are good things to do to make your living situation happy.”

There are several co-ops in Hyde Park, three of which are in the co-op organization Qumbya (qumbya.com). Each of Qumbya’s houses, Concord (5325 Blackstone Ave.), Haymarket (5405 Ridgewood Ct.), and Bowers (5130 S. University Ave.), is home to both community members and undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Chicago–approximately eighteen, twelve, and twenty residents, respectively. The rules of different co-ops vary, but all are committed to communal living and a diverse, tolerant environment. In Concord House, for example, a different member cooks dinner for the whole co-op every night. Beyond sharing meals together, the whole group pools money to keep grocery and utility bills low.

Another co-op in Hyde Park is the Shtetl (5438 S. Harper Ave.). Known primarily for its raucous parties, the Shtetl is home to nine students. It has a less formal environment than the Qumbya co-ops, but there are still periodic meetings and some collaboration on shared food for the house.

Cooperative living can also be a cheaper option, or at least about the same as an apartment. Lines said living in a co-op was “significantly cheaper” than her apartment, with most of the rents ranging from $450-$550 a month, not including utilities. At the Shtetl, residents pay between $385-$530 for rent, with a monthly utility fee of around $60 per person.
Although there are lots of perks to co-op living, it isn’t for everyone. Co-ops are very open, social environments, and without a desire to take part in that, living in one would be more of a nuisance than a unique opportunity. Lines said that she left the co-op because she “ended up wanting a little bit more personal space.” Michael Guido, a resident in the Shtetl, says what is most difficult for him is the inability to communicate well with so many people in such a big house. (BonnieKate Walker)