Chicago—One of the most expensive apartment towers here has filled up with more than 100 immigrant renters, many fresh from the customs counter at O’Hare International Airport.
New immigrants have rented one out of every five apartments at the Shoreham since the 548-unit high-rise opened in 2005.
These residents hardly look like the huddled masses that moved through Ellis Island at the start of the last century. To begin with, they can afford the Shoreham’s rents, which average $2.41 a square foot. That implies an income ranging from $70,000 a year to $100,000 a year.
More than half the property’s immigrant renters come from Japan or Korea, with others coming from elsewhere in Asia, as well from Europe and Latin America.
The newcomers are helping keep the Shoreham’s occupancy rate between 89 percent and 96 percent. They come to the Shoreham because it’s close to Chicago’s financial district, its lakefront, the refurbished Grant Park, and shopping on Michigan Avenue, as well as because the building offers a package of amenities that helps ease the transition to a new home.
Residents at the Shoreham pay one flat fee that covers not only heat, hot water, and gas, but also the cost of cable service and a high-speed Internet connection. The package deal saves recent arrivals to the United States a great deal of time and trouble.
“They’re new—they don’t know how to set up cable service,” said Sara Torsella, director of leasing for NNP Residential, LLC, the Chicago-based owner and developer of the Shoreham.
NNP also makes it easy for residents to rent apartments without even visiting the building. The Web site for the Shoreham goes beyond including floor plans and a virtual tour. Potential renters can apply online, and the Web site can even run a credit check. For prospective residents who can’t visit the building before they arrive in the United States, or even call the property management office during regular business hours (which may be the middle of the night in the Far East), these features are key.
The time difference also makes the 24-hour business and fitness centers at the Shoreham more valuable. Both are used long into the night by residents who stay up to do business with people in Tokyo or Seoul.
Many residents also plan to stay in the United States permanently and eagerly take advantage of NNP’s rent-to-buy program, which allows tenants to apply a quarter of their rent to an eventual purchase at one of Near North’s condominium buildings.
Residents also appreciate the social opportunities at the Shoreham, where events often bring as many as 300 or 400 residents together.
One thing the Shoreham does not offer is property managers who speak Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Russia, or any of the other languages spoken by Shoreham tenants. The renters are typically fluent English speakers.