ChicagoDowntown / Loop

Pre-leasing underway at Randolph Tower in the Loop

by Joe Zekas on 11/23/11

Randolph Tower, at 188 W Randolph St, is undergoing a conversion from office to residential use, with occupancy expected in the first quarter of next year. It’s a long-running saga that we first covered back in July of 2006, and one of a number of new rental tower that will begin occupancy next year.

The 45-story neo-Gothic building, originally known as the Steuben Club, has terra cotta ornamentation that rises in intensity as your eye travels up the building’s façade.

As you can see from the photos, a great deal of repair work remains to be done.

When I visited last week the upper reaches of the building were still obscured by scaffolding, but the scope of the effort necessary to restore the façade is evident. According to a report in Crain’s, $23 million is the tab for façade restoration.

The development only became feasible after the city made available $34 million in tax-increment financing. It’s also benefiting from $37 million in tax credits and a $40 million tax-exempt bond issue. That combination of subsidies led architecture critic Lynn Becker to dub the building the “Welfare Queen.” The building is a Chicago landmark but, sniffed Becker, one of “marginal importance.”

The AFL – CIO Housing Investment Trust (PDF) also participated in the financing, and 20% of the building’s units will be available to low-income tenants.

For those interested in the building’s history, the detailed preliminary submission to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks is available online in PDF format.

All of that is likely to matter little to Loop apartment renters attracted to the location and the building’s promise of extensive services and amenities.

Pre-leasing is underway, with studios renting from $1,400 a month and penthouses ranging up to $6,420. When you click the Check availability link on the building’s website, the $1,400 minimum for Studio S jumps to $1,510.

Over 40 separate floor plans are available, most of them featuring what real estate folk euphemistically call “cozy” spaces.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Simon November 23, 2011 at 10:51 AM

Wel worth the taxpayer dollars to save this important part of Chicago history. We should have a much more prohibative policy on demolitions of buildings that were built prior to 1930. ANY BUILDINGS

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GlobalChicago November 23, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Of course this building should be saved! It is well worth the subsidies as it is a true city asset and creates part of the fabric of our great city that attracts visitors from all over. The issue I have is with the low income – it must be nice to be low income and get an apartment where studios start at around $1500.00 a month! Can you imagine living in that building paying such high rent and some of your neighbors pay so much less. I hope that these low-income individuals are at least working to better themselves and get out of low-income status. It seems way too luxurious for low-income maybe it should be for lower to middle- class that the rents are reduced as the middle class are the ones who often struggle and still work.

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Peter November 23, 2011 at 11:55 AM

Looks like a cool project using Historic and Low Income Housing tax credits and tax exempt bonds!

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Peter November 23, 2011 at 1:05 PM

“It seems way too luxurious for low-income maybe it should be for lower to middle- class that the rents are reduced as the middle class are the ones who often struggle and still work.”

Almost certainly is for lower and middle income folks. That means they have income and are working. The units are typically set aside for people making 60%-50% of Area Median Income.

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David November 24, 2011 at 7:17 AM

The subsidies are outrageous. If you want to save a “landmark”, do so at your own cost. Why should I be subsidizing rent in a building where studios are around $1,500/month and penthouses go up to almost $6,500/month. That is welfare for the rich.

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STARCHY November 26, 2011 at 12:47 PM

public money used for private development – what could possibly go wrong?

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CaptainVideo November 28, 2011 at 10:08 PM

” Why should I be subsidizing rent in a building where studios are around $1,500/month and penthouses go up to almost $6,500/month.”

Preserving buildings that are of genuine architectural merit and/or historical value benefits society as a whole, not only the people living in it. (This is what economists call beneficial externalities.) Therefore society as a whole should help pay for it.

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