Chicago's AMLI River North in Final Polish for Summer Launch

As the luxury rental apartments on Hubbard Street prepare to top off, FrontDoor toured the site during the last phase with developer Jennifer Wolf. Let's just say it's hitting all the right notes.

Chicago's AMLI River North Luxury Apartment Living Room

Photo by: AMLI River North Rendering of AMLI River North living room. The building has gorgeous views looking out over the river, unobstructed views to the west, ground-floor retail shops and electric-car charging stations.

They’re not strangers to the luxe scene. The pros of Chicago-based AMLI have been around since the 1980s and have built an impressive portfolio of properties across the country. “Our core business is luxury rental apartments,” says Jennifer Wolf, senior vice president of development and a company veteran of 23 years. They were one of the first out of the gate delivering units into this new (and increasingly competitive) Chicago market. Still, this build is a milestone. “Being on the corner of Clark and Hubbard, we’ve got no better site," says Wolf. "It’s the best location we’ve ever worked on.” 

And already a popular one, too. Even before launch, the 50-story AMLI River North has racked up more than 700 followers on its Facebook page for a bit of construction voyeurism, as friends watch the pool area, cabanas, dog run and outdoor theater spaces evolve. Anecdotes and hard data support the flood of renters to downtown, a trend Wolf thinks is part of this crop of “transit-oriented developments.” The walk-to-work people want a snazzy place to live. 

“We see people who work very demanding jobs, have less spare time and choose to not spend that time commuting long distances,” Wolf explains. The urban professional is craving less bohemian grotto and more CS Magazine-inspired fashionable city digs, opting out of the big suburban cookie-cutter home and choosing, instead, amenity- and character-driven spaces in the center of where it's all happening. This is a coveted clientele: people who place a premium on lifestyle

AMLI River North Humongous Roof Top Deck

Photo by: AMLI River North Under construction: The roof-deck amenity space is a whopping 22,000 square feet, with landscaping designed by Houston-based Bart Sutton and Chicago’s Peter Vargulich. At launch there will be an outdoor movie theater, grilling stations, a pool, and an area for simulated golf, yoga and Pilates.

That's what makes the 409-unit Hubbard AMLI a case study of market meets demand. Designed by Brad Lewis, a conceptual designer with Schwarz Lewis Design Group (architectural firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz also worked on the project), the high-rise combines function with an elegance that raises the livability quotient. “We obsessed with our designers, with our architects, over every detail,” Wolf emphasizes. It was important for them to get it right, “because we knew we had such a great, huge space, and it had to be spectacular.” 

Indeed. What you notice about this complex and the layout of the units is the arrangement of elements. The developers have zeroed in, and not just on luxury perks: full-sized stackable washers and dryers, spacious kitchen countertops, walk-in closets you can swim in, stainless steel appliances, a business center, a gym and a club room. That's becoming de rigueur. AMLI went one better: They got inside our bodies. How do people function in these spaces. Why do these apartments feel so, well, customized. “When we do these floor plans, I spend hours and hours on revisions going through 'how are we going to live in this?'” says Wolf, knocking off a litany of design questions. “How do we get a bigger closet? How do we get a pantry and the right-sized bedroom so you can get your king-sized bed into it? So we really, really obsess over floor plans and drive the architects to make it work.” 

Photo by: AMLI River North "This luxury rental apartment building is very specific to people who could be homeowners but choose this lifestyle because of the fantastic amenities and staff," says AMLI developer Jennifer Wolf. "It makes it hard to resist.”

To make it work they contracted Kathy Andrews Interiors, who designed all the common spaces and the unit models. The apartment we toured was a generous-sized 750-square-foot one-bedroom, priced at $2,100 per month. To keep the noise level out of the pollution zone there’s extra drywall between units for an additional layer of sound privacy. “In multiunit living, you’re always trying to see how you can get tenants to live together,” said Wolf. And there's a welcome detail: Every single bedroom has an outlet with a USB port, so you can plug in your phone or other portable device to recharge, one of many wonderful examples of designing around how people use tech. 

Fair notice: If you're a smoker, forget about it. AMLI decided to make the entire building smoke-free, including the awesome rooftop. 

Although Wolf declined to divulge the build cost, she says it’s comparable to other luxury developments in the area and the project created about 300 jobs. “I can’t even think about how you top this," she shakes her head. "We’re really proud of it. We’ve created a wonderful community of living spaces with great amenities in this amazing neighborhood.” 

On July 15, the 71 W. Hubbard Street building will be dialed in and ready for occupancy, leasing studios to three-bedroom units. Pricing starts at $1,892 per month and depends on the floor plan and upgrades.  Penthouses list for $7,500 per month.

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