River North apartment shootout – Chicagoland Property Group vs YoChicago

We like to think that YoChicago is Chicago’s best free rental service. We’re an objective, visually rich website with comprehensive apartment reviews, all-inclusive at-a-glance lists, neighborhood maps and guides, narrated video tours, original aerial photography and a great deal more.

One of our goals is to help renters understand what to expect from Chicago’s rental services a/k/a apartment locators a/k/a apartment finders.

Last week we focused on Chicagoland Property Group (CPG), one of Craigslist’s most prolific ad spammers, and four of its agents who we dubbed the spam-family Walker.

At the time of this writing the spam-family Walker had 843 apartment ads active at Craigslist, and 492 of them contained the word “best.” We’ve spotlighted the best apartments in River North on 18 different criteria, so we decided to compare Collin Walker’s pick on one of them with ours.

According to the oft-repeated Walker ad pictured above, “There isn’t a better true 1 bedroom value anywhere in the fantastic River North neighborhood then [sic] this unit …” The ad doesn’t disclose the property name or address – it’s River North Park, 320 W Illinois.

River North Park was one of our top choices in two categories: expressway access and affordability. Our other pick in the affordability category was Asbury Plaza, which we also selected as having the best one-bedroom floor plan, and among the best access to grocery shopping and public transit. We’ve written detailed reviews of both River North Park and Asbury Plaza.

Another CPG agent has included floor plans of Asbury Plaza’s one-bedrooms in his ads, and you can compare them with the one in Walker’s ads. The River North Park unit is 724 square feet. The Asbury Plaza one-bedroom plan that we selected as the best in River North is 825 square feet. The 780 square-foot one-bedroom in the CPG agent’s ad was not available for rent at the time we saw the ad.

Both buildings have near real-time availability and pricing information online, and our reviews and lists link directly to that information. Walker’s ad stated the rent for the River North Park unit as $1,600. Two units were currently available, priced at $1,660 and $1,665 for a 12-month lease. Units available late in May and June ranged from $1,455 to $1,625. Five 825 square-foot one-bedrooms were available for immediate occupancy at Asbury Plaza, priced from $1,568 to $1,623.

Heat and air-conditioning are included in the rent at Asbury Plaza. They’re provided by through-the-wall units at River North Park and paid for by tenants.

The Asbury Plaza units have balconies; the River North Park one doesn’t. The Asbury Plaza units have more interesting and more functional layouts, and better closet space. Focus on the awkward bathroom plan in the River North Park apartment.

To recap thus far: Asbury Plaza one-bedrooms offer a lot more space and a better layout at a lower rent. What has Walker seen that makes River North Park one-bedrooms the better value?

Walker’s ad says River North Park has the “best location.” We don’t think Walker is making that claim out of ignorance. We think it’s a lie. He has to be aware that Asbury Plaza has far superior access to shopping, dining, nightlife, parks, the lake, public transit and more. River North Park has better expressway access. It’s bordered by three busy streets and the El tracks.

Asbury Plaza is a block from Whole Foods, 4 blocks from Walmart Express, and has other grocery and convenience store outlets nearby. River North Park is a half-mile from the nearest full-service grocery store.

Asbury Plaza and River North Park are each four blocks from Brown and Purple Line stops. Asbury Plaza is a block from a Red Line stop and River North Park is seven blocks from the nearest Red Line stop. Bus service to various locations is far more convenient at Asbury Plaza, and taxis and Divvy bikes are more readily available. Both properties have Zipcars on-site.

The common-area amenities packages are comparable in both buildings. Asbury Plaza’s pool is outdoors; River North Park’s is indoors. Both buildings are professionally managed and have 24/7 door staff.

River North Park is pet-friendly, subject to limits. Asbury Plaza does not accept dogs.

People weigh a lot of considerations when deciding where to rent, including proximity to work. Some obviously decide that River North Park is their best option, and some opt for Asbury Plaza.

You might not think that two identically-priced Loop studios in different buildings can both be the best, but Walker can. The left ad, above, is for 215 West, 215 West Washington; the ad on the right is for 200 Squared, 210 N Wells.

The 215 West website states the square footage of the advertised floor plan as 525. Walker lists 545 square feet for the studio at 200 Squared. The 200 Squared website lists only 584 and 629 square foot studios.

We think people prefer to make their decisions on which properties to visit based on complete, accurate and up-to-date information rather than on stale BS in spammer-generated Craigslist ads. We make a conscientious effort to supply and connect you with that information. We think Collin Walker just makes stuff up and spews it onto Craigslist hoping you’ll contact him. We list and link to all of the properties in an area. Walker and CPG only advertise properties that pay a commission.

If you like what we do, tell someone you know who’s looking for an apartment to visit YoChicago.

Note: The Habitat Company manages Asbury Plaza. Kingsbury Plaza, which is also managed by Habitat, is one of our advertisers.

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