The Housing Players:
Locations: Over a hundred properties throughout Hyde Park and Kenwood, as far north as 44th Street.
Amenities: You’ll get what you pay for. MAC offers a wide range of apartment styles in an effort to cover the spectrum of student needs. The most basic properties have few amenities at all. About thirty percent of MAC’s apartments feature new appliances and bath/kitchen fixtures, granite counters, and dishwashers. All apartments have access to common area laundry facilities, but only ten or so come with in-unit washers and driers. Keep in mind that heat is currently included in some rent agreements, but future residents will have to pay for their own.
Rent Range: Studio $651-$1,252; one-bedroom $808-$1,484; two-bedroom $979-$2,062; three-bedroom $1,354-$2,376; four-bedroom $1,730-$1,982; five-bedroom $2,128.
Pros: If you want to move off campus, you will find a place through MAC. There are enough options that you can generally get something to fit your needs. MAC features a number of available properties on its website, and their conveniently located 53rd Street leasing office is open seven days a week. Residents can call to report emergencies even in the wee hours of the morning and expect someone to be on the line.
Cons: Maintenance has its problems. MAC only guarantees that they will respond to issues right away; actual repairs can drag on. The company itself dominates the student rental market, and its (still ongoing) expansion has been driven by purchases of smaller companies and independently managed properties.
User Comments: “In general they were decent about fixing work orders (toilet, lights, etc.), until they decided to take down our fire escape…They claimed that it would be replaced quickly, but it took them around four months to actually rebuild it. Aside from the obvious safety issues of lacking a fire escape for four months, the side-effects were pretty bad water damage after it stormed a couple of times.”
Notes: You’re dealing with the best marketers in the business, for better or worse. If you want to avoid the hassle of serious apartment hunting, or you just have a hankering for packets of sunscreen that look suspiciously like condoms, MAC is the way to go. Plenty of students rent from MAC, and the apartments are often as good as what you make of them. For those willing to pay more, the named properties—Regents Park, the Algonquin, Windermere House, Blackwood, East Park Tower, and the Del Prado—offer a more comfortable living experience. Apartments at the old Shoreland dormitory are in the works, and will hopefully open around August.
Contact Info: MAC Property Management, 1364 E. 53rd St. (877)826-0802. macapartments.com (John Gamino)
Locations: Multiple properties centered on 54th Street and Woodlawn Avenue.
Amenities: Off-street parking is available by request, and a heating system and hot water is included in every apartment. Each building has communal laundry facilities, as well as bike racks. On-site management is available around the clock at a nearby garden unit, where prompt service is promised when needed.
Rent Range: Two-bedroom $1160-$1400; three-bedroom $1700-$1740; four-bedroom $1860-$2100.
Pros: Size. With a limited amount of properties, you’re likely to have access to more attentive leadership. The location at 54th and Woodlawn means you’re only a step away from the commercial life at Kimbark Plaza. Management touts the diversity of its renters, and the fact that most of their tenants pass on their apartments to their friends instead of letting them go on the market.
Cons: Size. If you have a specific kind of apartment in mind, their limited offerings might leave you having to look elsewhere. If you’d like a little bit more distance from the student-centric living in this part of Hyde Park, Blackstone is probably not for you.
Contact Info: Blackstone Management, 5413 S. Woodlawn Ave. (773)667-1568. blackstonemanagement.com (Patrick Leow)
Locations: Hyde Park and South Shore, and across Chicago.
Amenities: Vary by building; some include a business center with free Wi-Fi, bicycle storage, a laundry center, a fitness center, a sundeck, a mail room, and an I-GO car sharing service.
Rent Range: Studio $585-$805; one-bedroom $850-$915; two-bedroom $965-$1280; three-bedroom $1595 (South Shore); four-bedroom $1750 (South Shore).
Pros: Many properties have on-site management and flexible lease terms. For the luxury seekers, most properties advertise newly remodeled kitchens, hardwood floors, plush carpeting, large closet space, and lake views.
Cons: Complaints have included hard-to-reach management, a required A/C installation fee, erratic water temperature, and unreasonable rent.
Notes: Yelp! reviews vary by building, which are each individually managed. Some rave of the “professional and accommodating” management team, others complain of “slumlords” who are reluctant to fix broken appliances. TLC specializes in smaller units (studios, one-bedrooms, and two-bedrooms) within large buildings. The high-rise buildings might not give you the tender loving care of a smaller walk-up apartment, but, hey, they have a fitness center.
Contact info: TLC Management Company, 100 N. LaSalle, Ste. 1200. (312)553-9070. chicagorentals.com (Sasha Tycko)
Location: 59th Street and Dorchester Avenue. Two blocks from the Metra, about a fifteen-minute walk from the center of campus.
Amenities: All residents have access to the main lounge, library, Tiffin Café, dining room (pool table, foosball, large-screen television), community kitchen (equipped with multiple ranges, microwaves, toasters, refrigerators, freezers, and lockers that can be rented to store food and kitchen wares), laundry room, exercise room, private study rooms, and private fountain courtyard. In-room amenities vary.
Rent range: Rooms can be rented for the summer, a single term, or the academic year. The average single is the cheapest at $2,230 for an academic year, while a super suite (bathroom, bedroom, living room) is the most expensive at $2,960 a year. Note that it is more expensive to rent any room for one term than it is to rent for the entire year.
Pros: I-House residents receive free admission to every event hosted by the I-House community. These events cover a wide span of opportunities including guest speakers, cultural celebrations, and live performances. The dining room is also a wonderful place to socialize with other university students, undergraduate and graduate, from all over the globe (many of whom are quite well versed in preparing good food and drink). The South and Central shuttles pass right by I-House.
Cons: Admittance to I-House is determined by application, so there is always the chance of being denied a room. Next year, I-House will be the location of three undergraduate houses, which may decrease the number of accepted applicants due to shortage of space. It goes without saying that if you are looking to totally separate yourself from university house life, I-House may not be the best choice for you.
User Comments: “I-House is a uniquely…what’s the word…like melting pot…The word in Spanish is mezcla. There isn’t an English equivalent.” “Sometimes you come home to a protest staged right outside your residence.”
Contact Info: International House at the University of Chicago, 1414 E. 59th St. (773)753-2280. ihouse.uchicago.edu (Lauren Culbertson)
McKey and Poague
Locations: Hyde Park and South Shore.
Amenities: The company doesn’t own any buildings, but instead manages them. As a result, amenities vary by building. Water is included in the rent price for all units and most include heat. Tenants usually have to pay for electricity and cooking gas. Some buildings include laundry facilities, bike rooms, or a garage.
Rent Range: Studio $645-$1100; one-bedroom $625-$1000; two-bedroom $975-$1395; three-bedroom $1600; four-bedroom $1745.
Pros: McKey and Poague is a friendly, local business that has been in Chicago since before the Columbian Exposition. Since it’s a small company, you can get more personalized customer service.
Cons: The flip side of being a small company is that they have fewer resources. Their office is closed on weekends, making them difficult to contact.
user comments: “In terms of this specific building, our building manager has been pretty cool. He was very clear about what he expected from tenants when we moved in. Response time in terms of maintenance has been varied; sometimes someone comes within one to two business days, sometimes it takes more like four to five.”
Notes: Tenants go to the building manager for apartment issues and maintenance, and so they rarely contact McKey and Poague itself after signing the lease.
Contact Info: McKey and Poague Real Estate Services, 1348 E. 55th St. (773)363-6200. mandpoffice.com (Sharon Lurye)
Locations: 5130 S. University Ave. (Bowers), 5225 S. Blackstone Ave. (Concord), 5405 S. Ridgewood Ct. (Haymarket).
Amenities: Communal laundry, as well as large dining and living rooms.
Rent Range: One-bedroom $360-$600, plus food and utilities at an additional $150-$190 per month.
Pros: Your co-op will feed you! Co-ops have some of the most diverse groups in Hyde Park—residents vary by age and affiliation in a way that only an intentional community can allow. It’s also cheaper than most private options, for real houses with fairly good amenities and locations.
Cons: You have to feed your co-op! Communal living has its trials, and it’s certainly not for everyone. Domestic harmony is not ensured, and co-ops are not for those who wish to stay uninvolved in the place that they live. A con for carnivores: all shared food is vegan or vegetarian.
User Comments: “The main feature of this system is the community that it offers—those interested should be primarily interested for that reason.” “Rooms tend to come furnished, especially as a subletter. For cooking, count on spending at least several hours once or twice a month to make dinner or brunch for everyone in the house. It’s lovely to live in a diverse community: undergrads, grad students, and non-university people.”
Notes: Bowers, Concord, and Haymarket are separate houses with distinctive personalities and application processes, and may not always have spaces available. To gauge fit, the application requires a visit to the house for dinner.
Contact Info: Qumbya Housing Cooperative. Check website for individual house contact info. qumbya.com (Bea Malsky)
Locations: Hyde Park, Kenwood, Bronzeville, and South Shore.
Amenities: Services vary depending on building.
Rent range: One-bedroom $625-$900; two-bedroom $680-$1,300; three-bedroom and houses $1,650-$1,950.
Pros: With the majority of their buildings having been built before 1930, many of the Parker-Holsman homes have a distinctive, vintage vibe. This old-school feel sets them apart from the cookie-cutter aesthetic of some of the more modern realtors.
Cons: Despite a long-standing reputation for responsiveness to tenant needs, Parker-Holsman has recently caught some flak for reluctant and inconvenient service. Tenants have complained about repairs being done very early in the morning or very late in the evening, against their wishes.
Notes: Parker-Holsman units are not necessarily geared toward students, so late-night ragers may be frowned upon. However, if you’re looking for a more permanent, long-term residence, Parker-Holsman may be the realtor for you.
Contact Info: Parker-Holsman Co., 1461 E. 57th St. (773)493-2525. parkerholsman.com (Zach Goldhammer)