ChicagoDowntown / Loop

SoNo East, 840 W Blackhawk St, Near North Side

by Joe Zekas on 9/9/13


SoNo was built in two phases. The first, at 860 W Blackhawk St in the Near North Side neighborhood, was completed in 2008 as a 28-story condominium. The downturn in the condo market resulted in an extended sellout over several years.

The second phase, now known as SoNo East, 840 W Blackhawk St, was developed as a 22-story, 324-unit rental apartment building. Construction began early in 2011 and the building was topped-out in October of 2011. First occupancy was in June of 2012.

Smithfield Properties is the developer for SoNo and SoNo East. Booth Hansen designed SoNo. The architects for SoNo East are Antunovich Associates and Berkelhamer Architects.

The apartments

In early September of 2013 available studio and convertible apartments were priced from $1,874 a month. One-bedrooms started at $2,050 and 2-bedroom, 2-baths at $2,643. Floor plans and current rents and availabilities are accessible online.

The units have 9-foot ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, in-unit washers and dryers, laminated hardwood floors and granite countertops. The appliance package is black rather than the more common stainless steel, and includes a built-in microwave. Half a dozen of the floor plans have the single-wall kitchen layout that’s generally considered the least efficient.

Two of the one-bedroom plans have separate office nooks. Closet space is extremely limited in several of the floor plans. Structural columns make furniture layout more challenging in some of the floor plans – a condition that’s not unusual in high-rise apartments. As is the case in many of the newer apartment buildings, most studio and convertible units and several of the one-bedroom floor plans lack balconies.

Panoramic view from SoNo, 860 W Blackhawk St, Chicago

View north from SoNo, 860 W Blackhawk St, Chicago

Views. SoNo East’s location affords it sweeping, uninterrupted views of the Chicago skyline to the north, east and south.

Amenities, services, policies

The amenities package includes a billiards room, a café / lounge, a party room with kitchen and serving area, a Wii / poker room, fitness rooms, and an outdoor sundeck with a fire pit, barbeque grills, hot tub and a 24 x 70 foot stainless steel swimming pool.

SoNo East also has a business center with Wi-Fi, a bicycle storage area, resident storage lockers and a ground-level enclosed dog run.

Resident services include on-site leasing and management staff, and 24-hour door staff.

Cats and dogs are accepted, subject to limits.

SoNo East includes a 4-story parking garage with 204 spaces and Zipcar availability. The garage is tucked out of sight behind the building rather than incorporated in the base as it is in many high-rises.

The location

SoNo East’s location is easily misunderstood because of the density of auto-oriented retail development in the Clybourn Corridor. It’s a far more pedestrian-friendly and interesting venue than is apparent at first blush.

Walk Score gives the location a Walker’s Paradise rating of 92, but that understates the conveniences available within a few minutes’ walk.

Shopping. Whole Foods’ Lincoln Park store isn’t in Lincoln Park, but it is a block west of SoNo East. The store spans 75,000 square feet and was the third-largest Whole Foods in the world when it opened in 2009. Sample the 100s of reviews at Yelp for a preview of what’s on offer at this “retail as theater” venue.

The immediate area offers an incredible and growing array of retail options, from national brand big-box stores to small boutiques, all within a short walk of SoNo East. A sleek Apple Store is at Halsted and North Ave. The planned New City development a block east of SoNo East will add an 80,000 square foot Mariano’s, a 14-screen Arclight Cinemas theater and additional retail and restaurants.

Dining, nightlife, entertainment. The Steppenwolf and Royal George theatres are a few blocks from SoNo East. There is a wide selection of dining, nightlife and drinking options in the immediate area, ranging from the casual to the formal.

Dive bar aficionados will love the proximity to Weeds, a short stroll, stumble or crawl from SoNo East.

Parks, recreation. SoNo East has relatively poor access to public parks and outdoor recreational space.

Transportation. Public transportation is excellent. The CTA Red Line stop at North Avenue connects to the Loop and to Wrigley Field, US Cellular Field, and points further north and south. CTA bus routes are nearby.

SoNo East has convenient access to I-90/94 via North Ave. At peak hours and on weekends, however, travel can be tediously slow due to the local retail density and Lincoln Park and North Avenue beach traffic.

There’s a Zipcar location on-site.

In June of 2013 Chicago Water Taxi launched seasonal commuter service between North Avenue and Madison Street, affording SoNo East residents a pleasant way to reach the Loop, Union Station and the Willis Tower.

The competition

SoNo East’s most direct competitor among the newer buildings is 1225 Old Town.

You’ll find additional tips and options at YoChicago’s Guide to renting on Chicago’s Near North Side and our at-a-glance list of Near North apartments.

SoNo East in the news

More recent items are listed first.

  • SoNo East apartment sale completed
  • SkyscraperCity thread
  • A SoNo East update and a creepy video
  • Buyer lined up for apartment tower
  • SoNo East construction status update
  • Share your take on SoNo East

    If you live in or have visited SoNo East, and are not a real estate agent, add your thoughts in a comment. Comments are moderated, and commercial messages are not allowed.

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