If you’ve been following the news lately, you know that there’s a construction boom in Chicago. And not just any construction boom – a high-rise boom. Thirty-four new buildings, to be exact. We know that the construction industry is generally healthy in Chicago, but why so many buildings, and why now?
One reason is that developers are feeling confident in the rental market, and as a result are creating what looks like a long-overdue recession rebound. Another is the need for more hotels and rentals to satisfy the influx of tech industry workers and empty-nesters who want a weekend retreat (or to give up their mortgages entirely).
The last boom, pre-recession, was all about condos. But it’s less risky for developers to build apartments, which may be another reason so many new high rises are growing from the city floor.
This boom will add about 7,000 new apartments and about 9,600 hotel rooms to the Loop, West Loop, Streeterville and McCormick Place areas. (See the map at Curbed.) And many of the buildings will be largely glass that look like a scalpel has sliced a piece out of them – what architecture critic Blair Kamin called “sliced minimalism.”
We glimpsed several sites, including Mila, Moment and the Ability Institute at RIC while we were building the roof deck at 540 N Lake Shore Drive. These state-of-the-art facilities will add retail, residential and medical services to Streeterville.
Chicago real estate goes through booms and busts, so there is some concern that the housing market could bottom out, leaving abandoned projects or empty buildings. Rate discounting and interest rates will play a role, and industry experts keep a close watch. But for now, the drama of the ever evolving Chicago skyline continues.