Housing Guide 2011: Some Options

MAC

Location: More than 70 properties in Hyde Park and Kenwood

Amenities: MAC offers a wide-range of amenities for similar sized units. Expect those containing laundry machines, dishwashers, and granite counters to cost more. Bike rooms are common, and all buildings have communal washers and dryers. Some have common rooms with Wi-Fi although don’t count on the signal.

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 $2150-3500

Pros: If you spend an afternoon touring apartments with MAC, you will at least get a sense of the options. The company’s wide assortment of buildings offers living spaces for both those moving out of housing to save money and for those ready to spend more. Their leasing office is professional and welcoming, and their well-designed website is informative. A map feature displays where units that meet your size and requirements are located. Once moved in, MAC offers a 24-hour emergency hotline. Generally, their maintenance workers are amiable and helpful, and their website offers an easy way to file work orders.

Cons: MAC has a bad reputation. Some of the stories are true, and others are likely exaggerated. Sure, work orders may take a while to be completed. Every once in a while, too, they may accidentally send out a five-day notice.

User comments: “It’s not perfect, but it shouldn’t be. This is not on-campus housing, at least they are trying.”

Notes: Peter Castle, a Director at MAC assures that the company is “always trying to serve their residents.” Recent proof of this includes MAC’s offer of free bowling nights for residents and contests where residents can win free Thai 55.

Contacts: MAC Property Management, 1364 E. 53rd St. (773)548-5077. macapartments.com (Tyler Leeds)

Regents Park

Location: 50th and Hyde Park, overlooking Lake Michigan and Harold Washington Park

Amenities: Regents has the works: a fitness center that Obama used to frequent, a swimming pool, a bar, an indoor garage, a rooftop garden, a conference room, free printing, and a restaurant that will deliver to anywhere in the complex. The building also boasts the Summit Club, a 37th-floor entertainment space open for residents during the day and available in the evening for private parties.

Rent Range: Studio (includes a kitchen) $1000-1300; One-bedroom $1200-1500; Two-bedroom $1500-1900; Three-bedroom $1900-2300

Pros: Putting all the in-house perks aside for a moment, Regents Park has a great location for those who regularly travel into the city. The 6 and the Metra stops are less than a block away, a Zipcar location is adjacent to the building, and a taxi is generally waiting out front. Plus, residents are right next to Istria Café and the Hyde Park Art Center. Residents can also expect great service from the 24/7 maintenance staff.

Cons: All the benefits come at a premium, and not all of the in-house amenities are complimentary. Despite the myriad transportation options, for student residents, it’s a bit of a trek to get to campus from Regents. And though the units are spacious, they were designed to seriously maximize the building’s capacity, so don’t expect anything unique or original from the cookie-cutter layouts. User Comments: “One of the downsides, I guess, is that the elevators are kind of slow.”

Notes: The building’s population is quite diverse, with clientele ranging from undergraduate students to families to retirees. That being said, the sheer number of students and community members living in the building all but guarantees that any new residents can count on having at least a few neighbors they know before moving in.

Contacts: Regents Park LLC, 5020 S. Lake Shore Dr. (773)288-5050. regentsparkchicago.com (Mitchell Kohles)

Estate Properties Management

Locations: 2 within Hyde Park — Drexel Ave. and Averett Ave.

Amenities: Hardwood floors, dishwashers, on-site laundry, microwaves, back porches; some newly refurbished units include fitness centers and free Wi-Fi.

Rent Range: Studio: Prices vary; One-bedroom: $1000; Two-bedroom: $1150-1400; Three-bedroom: $1300-1600 (up to $1800 for extra bath)

Pros: The properties are secured by gates and a staffed front desk. Prices are reasonable, especially as you move toward two and three bedroom apartments. Units are spacious and pet friendly. The location is relatively safe and close to public transit, especially busses running downtown. The landlords are accessible and responsive.

Cons: Non-refundable $50 application fee, $300 move-in fee (per co-signer), and a security deposit of the first month’s rent required. The leasing office is located downtown.

User Comments: “The pricing was just better, it wasn’t far from campus, and plus there were a lot more features in these new apartments,” says a tenant discussing their selection of Estate Properties over MAC.

Contact: Estate Properties Management, 351 W Chicago Ave. (312)506-3200. estatepg.com (Isaac Dalke)

McKey and Poague

Locations: Throughout Hyde Park and beyond Amenities: Household appliances, a laundry room, and a bike rack room can all be expected.

Rent range: Studio $675-725; One-bedroom $595-800; Two-bedroom $750-1,450 Three-bedroom (very few available) $1,000-1800

Pros: McKey and Poague is thorough in their handling of apartment affairs, putting a lot of emphasis on the details of real estate management. It is easy to count on thorough, reliable, and well thought out service.

Cons: Their website, which looks like it was created not long after the company’s founding in 1890, boasts that their offices are “fully computerized.” As this might suggest, the group can be difficult to communicate with at times.

Notes: Their listings for the Hyde Park area can fall well outside the neighborhood’s traditional boundaries, explaining some of the dirt-cheap prices. Don’t expect to be paying on the lower end of the scale for an apartment in Hyde Park.

Contact: McKey and Poague Real Estate Services, 1348 East 55th St. (773)363-6200. mandpoffice.com (Isaac Dalke)

The Blackstone

Location: 57th and Blackstone

Amenities: Two and half to three bathrooms and the standard list of amenities: full kitchen, balcony but no laundry or garbage disposal.

Rent: Four-Bedroom: $2350

Pros: Residents rave about the spaciousness of the units, enjoying a large dining room, living spaces, closets and balconies. The location is close to campus, a 15-minute walk by foot, and five-minute bike ride to the quads. The building is in the midst of the coffee-shops, eateries and bookstores and the surrounding blocks house mostly families. The landlady, who is said to be nice and helpful, lives in the building (which might be a pro or con).

Cons: As an old building, the Blackstone has a…rustic feel, i.e. sporadic heating, dustiness and a sole landlady means complete dependence on her schedule. Not being near the CTA bus routes might make grocery shopping a hassle.

User Comments: “I think it’s a pretty good place to live, definitely a better option than the MAC apartments I’ve seen. My parents visited and said that it was bigger than our actual house” “Plumbing is vintage as hell, but overall, it’s a solid place to live.”

Contact: Deirdre Connell, (773)251-6811. deirdre.connell@gmail.com (Nandini Ramakrishnan)

Parker-Holsman

Locations: Throughout Hyde Park and South Shore

Amenities: The extra services and facilities vary from building to building.

Rent range: Studio $760-850; One-bedroom $880-1100; Two-bedroom $1100-1500; Three-bedroom $1800+

Pros: The company is on top of its game in terms of organization and response, trying hard to respond to tenants’ needs in a timely manner. They also primarily manage buildings constructed before 1930, giving residents the opportunity to glance into Hyde Park’s storied past.

Cons: The buildings host a range of residents–students aren’t the main target. This translates to a lack of tolerance of rowdy student conduct, so be prepared to accept a lot of responsibility for one’s actions and a noise curfew.

User Comments: “My apartment is beautiful, replete with a retro gas stove and nice decorative details. The grounds are well maintained and I’ve never had trouble with maintenance. Rents are a bit steep, though, and I can’t throw parties or practice juking after 10pm without getting a noise complaint.”

Notes: Parker-Hoslman also owns a significant number of condo units for those who are looking for a more permanent housing option.

Contact: Parker Holsman Co., 1461 East 57th St. (773)493-2525. parkerholsman.com. (Isaac Dalke)

Mr. Lin’s Apartments

Locations: 56th and Drexel, 55th and Dorchester, 56th and Maryland

Amenities: Full kitchen, heat, water, free hi-speed internet, in-building laundry; electricity and gas also included in some apartments, including basement units.

Rent range: One-bedroom: $520-$550; Two-bedroom: $600-$1000; Three-bedroom $850-1700; Four-bedroom $1900-2100

Pros: The rent is cheap, the Drexel and Maryland apartments are incredibly close to campus and the hospital, closed-off back porches and in-unit laundry, Mr. Lin is friendly and responsive to tenants’ concerns, and the basement often smells like Chinese food.

Cons: One (or both) of the dryers is usually broken and quarters wasted in old machines are lost to quarter-hell forever, some apartments are showing signs of old age (leaks, faulty radiators, etc.), a relatively small number of student neighbors, and Mr. Lin is only reachable by telephone….and the basement often smells like Chinese food.

Notes: All of these apartments are taken care of by Mr. Lin, who, with the help of his longtime sidekick/handyman Toby, “take good care of them like my kids.” Mr. Lin is not a fan of apartments that “make big noise and loud music,” but is quick to respond to any of his tenants’ living emergencies, big or small. He prefers that appointments to see apartments are made with 24 hours’ notice. Leave a message with his wife, or on their machine, if he isn’t available.

User Comments: “Living so close to campus is a blessing. From my apartment at 56th and Drexel, you can almost literally roll out of bed to Core Bio, and it takes an additional minute or two to get to Cobb. But it does suck to not know how many quarters you’ll need for a fully-washed, fully-dried load of laundry.”

Contact: Mr. Lin, (773)241-6854. (Kelsey Gee)