by Dan Rafter
When you think of luxury rental developments, what do you picture? Modern apartment towers rising from the busy downtowns of major cities, right?
That doesn’t have to be the case. The suburbs might not get as much press when it comes to new multifamily projects, but plenty of developers are bringing high-end rental units to suburban communities across the Midwest.
This includes M&R Development, which in late May announced the ground-breaking of The Residences at Hamilton Lakes, a 297-unit luxury rental community in the Chicago-area suburb of Itasca, Illinois. The community, a joint venture between M&R Development, Hamilton Partners and Murphy O’Brien LLC, is expected to be ready for occupancy in the spring of 2017.
The community will include three four-story buildings offering a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans. It will also feature more than 7,500 square feet of resort-style amenities. These include an outdoor pool, media room, high-end gym, business center and event space. There’s also a spa, sauna, steam room, pet spa and yoga/pilates studio.
“Today’s renters want high-end amenities and finishes found in many downtown developments, but not everyone wants to live in a downtown high-rise,” said Anthony Rossi Sr., president of M&R Development. “This community fills a niche in the market, bringing that same luxurious metropolitan lifestyle to the west suburbs.”
Each unit in the rental community will come with nine-foot ceilings, quartz countertops and hardwood floors, amenities typically found in high-end urban apartment developments. Kitchens will come with stainless-steel dishwashers, self-cleaning ovens and frost-free refrigerators.
Tony Rossi Jr., executive vice president with M&R Development, said that the company decided about six years ago that the area adjacent to the Hamilton Lakes Business Park in Itasca would be the perfect home for a high-end rental development. That’s because the business park, which includes more than 3 million square feet of office space in addition to restaurants and two hotels, is located right near busy expressways connecting to Chicago.
The business park offers plenty of office jobs, too, which will attract future residents of the Residences at Hamilton Lakes, Rossi Jr. said.
“For a suburban rental development, you need good employment, good transportation options and close proximity to a commuter train station,” Rossi Jr. said. “We’d like to be right next to the train station, ideally. But not all developments can be right next to one. We are about 1.5 miles away, which is still close. There is also a Pace shuttle bus that goes through the business park. The bus can go through our rental property, too, when it opens to take residents to the train.”
Construction crews began pouring concrete for the residences in early June, Rossi Jr. said. The developer says, though, that the Residences at Hamilton Lakes won’t be the last new luxury rental development in the Chicago suburbs.
“There was a time, back in 1996 or so, when you saw big 300-unit apartment deals wherever developers could get zoning,” Rossi Jr. said. “You’d see these big multifamily developments in Aurora or Oswego. The last five years, there has been no real suburban rental developments to speak of. That is now starting to change. The tough part is that unless you are near an area with heavy employment or a train station that gives couples the option to have one spouse work downtown and another in the suburbs, you’ll still have a tough time getting these kind of developments financed.”