But developers also cut the ribbon on billions of dollars worth of new construction this year, adding millions of square feet in neighborhoods from River North to Hyde Park.
Apartment towers dominated the list of most expensive developments completed in 2018, combining for more than 2,100 rental units. No. 9 Walton, the only condo development on the list, added 69 for-sale homes to the ultra-luxury mix.
Nearly half those rental units materialized in the South Loop alone, where Oxford Capital’s Essex on the Park and Lendlease’s The Cooper at Southbank combined for 931 new apartments. Next year they’ll be joined by the 800-unit NEMA Chicago, and construction will get underway on multiple other high-profile multifamily projects in the area.
All dollar amounts are based on the estimated construction value filed with the city’s buildings department at the time of approval. Together, they amount to more than $1.1 billion in new construction.
1. Essex on the Park | 808 South Michigan Avenue | $160 million
Oxford Capital added 479 units ito the South Loop apartment market when it completed the 56-story Essex on the Park, the most expensive single development to wrap up construction this year.
The Chicago-based developer broke ground on the mixed-use tower in July 2017, simultaneously renovating the next-door Essex Inn Hotel and boosting its capacity from 254 to 271 rooms. Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture designed the tower.
Pre-leasing for the apartments begins Wednesday.
2. 727 West Madison | 727 West Madison Street | $141 million
F&F Realty’s 45-story, oblong apartment tower at 727 West Madison is the tallest west of the Kennedy Expressway.
The building’s 492 units range from 500 to 1,550 square feet each, and they rent starting at $2,000 per month. Planned as far back as 2009, the tower also includes 10,000 square feet of retail space.
3. CNA Headquarters | 151 North Franklin Street | $140.2 million
The John Buck Company’s 35-story building at 151 North Franklin Street was the most expensive office project, and the biggest addition to the Loop, that finished in 2018. CNA Financial took the naming rights to the 807,000-square-foot tower when it moved from the 44-story “Big Red” building at 333 South Wabash Avenue.
The new tower was barely finished when Facebook announced it would bring 2,000 employees and lease 263,000 square feet there, joining CNA and law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson.
4. No. 9 Walton | 9 West Walton Street | $125 million
JDL Development earned back a significant chunk of the nine-figure investment it made in its 38-story condo tower late last year when billionaire Ken Griffin paid a record-smashing $59 million to buy the top four floors.
5. (tie) Ashland Place | 33 South Ashland Avenue | $100 million
About two years after Michigan Avenue Real Estate broke ground on a vacant lot at the corner of Ogden and Ashland avenues, a four-story complex with 47 luxury apartments opened to tenants.
The building, designed by Space Architects and Planners, is completely leased, according to its website.
6. (tie) The Cooper | 720 South Wells Street | $100 million
Lendlease polished off the first piece of its 7.5-acre Southbank development with the 452-unit building known as The Cooper, where studio apartments rents starting at $1,900 per month.
Southbank had been part of Riverline, a joint venture with CMK Companies to build thousands of units along a half-mile stretch of the South Branch of the Chicago River, until the firms split in March and divided the site into two developments.
7. Solstice on the Park | 1616 East 56th Street | $97.5 million
More than a decade after the plan surfaced, Antheus Capital finally brought celebrity architect Jeanne Gang’s apartment building vision to life in Hyde Park this year.
Solstice on the Park features 250 one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments at the northern edge of Jackson Park, overlooking the futures site of the Obama Presidential Center. Rents start at $1,857 per month.
8. McDonald’s Headquarters | 110 North Carpenter Street | $95 million
The 500,000-square-foot office building Sterling Bay built for McDonald’s became a Fulton Market attraction this spring, thanks to the 6,000-square-foot “international” restaurant the franchise opened on the ground floor.
The fast food giant moved its international headquarters from Oak Brook, where village leaders must now decide the future of the 34 empty acres the company left behind.
9. (tie) Holtschneider Performance Center | 2330 North Halsted Street | $90 million
DePaul University built this 185,000-square-foot performance venue as the “first phase” of a new music complex being built on the Lincoln Park campus. The building includes four concert halls comprising 800 seats, plus classrooms and a cafe.
9. (tie) Old Town Park | 1140 North Wells Street | $90 million
Vancouver-based Onni Group finished the first phase of its four-part redevelopment of the Atrium Village complex near the Cabrini-Green area, opening 404 units across 32 stories.
Onni secured a $125 million construction loan for the second tower, set to include 428 units. A proposal for the 456-unit third phase faced opposition when it came before the Chicago Plan Commission earlier this month and will be heard by the City Council zoning committee in January.
The top 10 Chicago Projects Completed in 2018
|Rank||Project||Address||Permit Value||Developer||Project Type|
|1||Essex on the Park||808 South Michigan Avenue||$160,000,000||Oxford Capital||Mixed-Use Residential|
|2||727 West Madison||727 West Madison Street||$141,000,000||F&F Realty||Multifamily|
|3||CNA Headquarters||151 North Franklin Street||$140,150,000||John Buck Company||Office|
|4||No. 9 Walton||9 West Walton Street||$125,000,000||JDL Development||Condominium|
|5 (tie)||Ashland Place||33 South Ashland Avenue||$100,000,000||Michigan Avenue Real Estate||Multifamily|
|5 (tie)||The Cooper||720 South Wells Street||$100,000,000||CMK Companies; Lend Lease||Multifamily|
|7||Solstice on the Park||1616 East 56th Street||$97,500,000||Antheus Capital||Multifamily|
|8||McDonald's Headquarters||110 North Carpenter Street||$95,000,000||Sterling Bay||Office|
|9 (tie)||Holtschneider Performance Center||2330 North Halsted Street||$90,000,000||DePaul University||Performance|
|9 (tie)||Old Town Park||1140 North Wells Street||$90,000,000||Onni Group||Multifamily|