The 42-story, 325-unit Optima Center apartments broke ground at 200 E Illinois St in the fall of 2011 and welcomed its first residents late in the summer of 2013.
The building is a Streeterville standout. Its parking levels are clad in a striking black glass that contrasts sharply with the silver blue glass of the upper floors. The recessed spaces at the 10th and 32nd levels have led some wags to tag the building with a nickname: “the fridge.”
Optima Center has convertible, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom floor plans. Floor plans and rent ranges are available online.
The first thing that many renters will notice about the floor plans is the absence of bathtubs in almost all of the units. Two of the 2-bedroom, 2 ½ bath plans, and the 3-bedroom penthouses, have a separate tub and stall shower in the master bath. There’s been a trend toward shower-only baths in recent years, but Optima Center is the only downtown building to eliminate tubs in such a high percentage of units. None of the units have balconies.
The apartments have laminate bamboo flooring in living areas, carpeted bedrooms, and full-wall floor-to-ceiling windows. Kitchens have granite countertops, under-mounted sinks, stainless steel refrigerators, built-in ovens and microwaves and in-counter cooktops.
Convertible and one-bedrooms have two-burner electric cooktops – a first for luxury apartments in downtown Chicago. The oven and microwave are next to the refrigerator in a number of the floor plans, which some may find inefficient. Cabinet and counter space is limited in a number of the floor plans. Some of the floor plans have generous pantry space.
Views. Optima Center’s website has a page of virtual tours illustrating the views in different directions from different units. You can draw your own conclusions about the views. The photo above is the southwest view from a 30th floor balcony at 240 E Illinois, immediately west of Optima Center.
Amenities, services, policies
Optima Center’s amenities are distributed across several levels.
The 10th floor “fitness and aquatic center” has 14-foot glass walls that wrap the entire perimeter. There’s a 15-meter pool, a hot tub, fitness equipment, spa and steam rooms, locker rooms, a basketball court and a wraparound outdoor terrace with seating areas. Sliding windows open the pool to the outdoors, weather permitting.
A 32nd-floor “residents’ club” has a business center, a sprawling lounge with multiple seating areas, audio-visual equipment, pool table and table tennis, fireplaces and two catering kitchens. A wraparound terrace offers outdoor grills, seating and tables.
The building is topped by a green roof and sundeck with two fireplaces wrapped by semi-circular seating areas, grills and a large hot tub.
The 238-car on-site parking garage has bicycle storage space and other storage facilities.
The building has pet-friendly floors. There is on-site management and leasing staff and 24/7 door staff.
Illinois is a multi-level street at Optima Center. The building’s lobby is at the upper level and garage access is on the lower level. The upper level of Illinois St provides pedestrian access to Michigan Avenue while the lower level accommodates through traffic headed for Navy Pier and the lakefront.
Shopping. Treasure Island, which bills itself as “America’s most European supermarket,” is a few blocks northeast.
Whole foods recently opened just east of Optima Center.
A Walgreen’s Pharmacy is a short walk east of Optima Center.
Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile shops begin a block west of the building.
Dining, nightlife, entertainment.
The building’s near-Michigan Ave location is close to the River North neighborhood, and there are literally 100s of dining and nightlife options within blocks of Optima Center.
There is a tree-lined plaza with benches directly across Illinois from the building.
Lake Shore Park, which has a running track, softball fields, tennis courts, a playground and a small field house, is half a dozen short blocks north.
Transportation. Access to CTA and Metra train lines is inconvenient from Optima Center. CTA bus service, via multiple routes, is excellent along Michigan Ave and lower Illinois (one-way East-bound) and Grand Ave (one-way West-bound). Many Optima Center residents are likely to opt for cabs as their preferred mode of public transit, and cabs are always plentiful.
Zipcar car-sharing locations are nearby.
Optima Center has convenient access to and from Lake Shore Drive. Reaching I-90/94 and the rest of the city’s expressway grid can often be time-consuming. Expect near-gridlock conditions when there’s a major event in the neighborhood.
Chicago Water Taxi offers seasonal commuter service between Michigan Avenue and Madison Street, affording Optima Center residents a pleasant, low-cost way to reach the Loop and the Willis Tower.
Optima Center’s most direct competitors are the new high-rises at 500 Lake Shore Drive and AMLI River North. The building also competes with The Streeter, Streeter Place and other newer nearby apartment towers.
Rentals are typically available in a number of nearby condo buildings, sometimes at sharply lower rents than in the new apartment buildings.
Optima Center in the news
More recent items are listed first.
Optima Center’s rooftop terrace Optima Center nears completion Work underway at Optima Center New skyscraper faces new challenges Apartment builders get funds to join crowded field Developer scraps condo project, sells site
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