Sweet Chicago Rental: West Loop Loft, $1350
Reminiscent of urban living in New York's SoHo, an open-space studio is unconvential living for most Chicagoans. But once you get used to it, this sweet rental's got some great features: exposed brick, timber beams and hardwood floors.
It might only be only one room, but the apartment is more than 1,100 square-feet. And for the monthly of rent of $1,350, you are paying a little over a dollar each month per square foot. In other popular and hip parts of town, like Lincoln Park, Wicker Park or Bucktown, it would be tough to find the same amount of space for the price.
Last month, however, the Chicago Tribune's RedEye called attention to a series of boutiques closing in the West Loop -- one of which belonged to a favorite designer of First Lady Michelle Obama, Maria Pinto -- and explores whether this is a sign of more struggles to come. But, as the story notes, there are other reasons to be optimistic about the West Side enclave.
One is that the city is working on improving accessibility to the neighborhood. This spring construction begins on a new CTA station at Lake and Morgan streets that's expected to be completed in 2012. While that will fuel more foot traffic into the West Loop, a new elementary school that opened last September should also spur new families to move in and further develop the community.
While these city developments are ways to help ensure long-term growth, in the interim, the West Loop (minus a few boutiques) still has many top restaurants, galleries and niche shops for local residents to enjoy.
For farmhouse fare and European beer, there's dinner and rounds of drinks at The Publican (if you can get a reservation) or a romantic candlelight feast at the french eatery, Marche. If you need to grab a new pair of jeans or a bottle of wine, the doors are still open at shopping destinations, like Fix and Koros, as well as the specialty food market, Fox & Obel.
When it comes to everyday living, the West Loop has the conveniences of Starbucks, the West Loop Athletic Club, pet groomers, nail salons, cycle shops, and dance studios -- all within walking distance of this sweet rental.
But one more thing -- don't be alarmed if you see some carcasses hanging outside some meatpacking facilities still in operation in the area. It's just part of the charm and the history behind your new rental.
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