2007 MFE Awards
Project of the Year: Senior

With an ad campaign promising Windy City seniors a “brand new way of life,” Cleveland-based Forest City Residential Group had a tall order to fill at The Apartments at 1251 S. Michigan, the company's 91-unit affordable complex in downtown Chicago.

To deliver on the lip service—and provide some development financing to boot—Forest City combined 1251 S. Michigan with its Sky55 luxury tower, attaching the buildings at the garage and lobby levels as well as at a shared seventh floor amenities area featuring a rooftop garden, pool, grilling area, sundeck, outdoor fireplace, and hot tub. “The message at 1251 S. Michigan was a new way of life, a new life in the city,” says Jon Wallenmeyer, Forest City's vice president of residential development. “Take an unbelievable location and add a shared amenities core with a luxury high-rise, and voila.”

Each of 1251 S. Michigan's studio and one-bedroom units boast views of downtown Chicago, highlights such as Lake Michigan or Granite Park, and feature wall-to-wall carpeting and Whirlpool appliances. Yet rents are between $705 and $755. In addition to the shared amenities core, 1251 S. Michigan residents have their own laundry and conference centers and full access to Sky55's state-of-the-art fitness center.

Cross-collateralization of the properties raises the overall percentage of affordable units to 35 percent, qualifying the entire development for tax-exempt bonds and tax-increment funding.

In addition to the mixed incomes, the residents of the two properties are mixing well at the amenities level, too, which Wallenmeyer expects will help maintain 1251 S. Michigan's 98.9 percent occupancy level. “That's always been a key part of the senior market,” he says. “You have to come up with a lifestyle, so that they can come out of their apartments [and] so that they want to stay in the community.”

Fast Facts

  • Builder: McHugh Construction
  • Developer: Forest City Residential Group
  • Architect: Solomon Cordwell Buenz
  • Opened: March 2006
  • Units: 125
  • Unit Mix: Studios and one-bedrooms
  • Prices: $705 to $755


    —Julie Smith, president, Bozzuto Management Co.