Sweet Chicago Rental: Buena Park Studios for $700

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Times Square ApartmentsThe Times Square Apartments at 869 W. Buena Avenue in Chicago pick up on a subtle theme in the neighborhood - the building's outdoor light fixtures brighten Broadway, two theaters perform in its first floor storefront, and Manhattan Liquors sits across the street.

But it doesn't need all those tricks. In the last few years Buena Park, a north side neighborhood on Lake Michigan, has become a hot neighborhood. Recent developments (including a massive Borders that opened in 2004, a row of intimate restaurants just south of the Sheridan stop on the Red Line, and balcony-laden condos throughout the neighborhood) mingle comfortably with some of Chicago's most beautiful historic homes.

But why this building?

The Times Square Apartments were renovated in the mid-2000s, with a small but handy fitness center (complete with wallpaper that really makes you want to run while on the treadmill), a roof deck with skyline views, and a 7-11 on the ground floor. You do need to walk outside for a Big Bite, but just barely, which can be a lifesaver on some winter nights in Chicago. And no matter how cold it gets, it's always worth bundling up for the walk across the street to sample the impressive beer list at the Bar on Buena.

This is one of the few rental buildings in the area that welcomes cats and dogs (small ones - they do have a 40-pound limit), so expect to see some furry friends in the lobby on their way to the nearby dog park. Parking can be tricky on the side streets and pricey in neighborhood lots, but with the proximity of the Red Line and lots of convenient buses, it might be time to go green and give that CTA card some exercise.

The units, all renovated along with the building, start at $700 a month for a studio. With six floors of studios, plus, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom floor plans, there's usually a lot of activity at Times Square. Just like you've always heard.
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