• Tiny apartments are making it big in Chicago.
  • CEDARst developers are increasing their portfolio of little apartments.
  • The trend appeals to a wide variety of renters, especially millennials.

Call it the urban, apartment-dwelling version of the tiny house trend: Little spaces for living in Chicago are making it big.

Big players in this arena are developers like Jay Michael and Alex Samoylovich, co-founders and partners of CEDARst.  

The Chicago-based concern is the holding company for a range of businesses, including hospitality, entertainment, and several venture start-ups. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, CEDARst owns more than 2.5 million square feet in Chicago, with about a third of that owing to the micro apartment Flats Chicago brand.

Flats Chicago is responsible for buying and rehabilitating several Chicago apartment buildings that had been called on the brink of uninhabitable. Properties include the 12-story 1325 West Wilson, with lake and skyline views, and Lawrence House, at 1020 West Lawrence, with six stories. Flats Chicago drove millions into extensive renovations in each building.

Early criticism of the developer centered around the fact that several properties were still occupied. To the developer’s credit, they hired caseworkers before beginning work on Lawrence House to help resettle individuals who lived there.

5411 Winthrop, Smart Living Space (PRNewsFoto/CEDARst)

5411 Winthrop, Smart Living Space (PRNewsFoto/CEDARst)

Flats Chicago then took the older properties, now referred to as “vintage,” and used the best of the existing features — views, high ceilings and of course limited, yet efficient, space to create small living units, some of which are between 300 and 600 square feet, for spare, yet elegant living.

They also offer one and two-bedroom units with similar space savings. Rents in Lawrence House, for example, are about $1,125, but residents get rooftop patios, WiFi and other high-end amenities seen at much larger buildings.

The company boasts that model apartments often are decorated with CB2 furnishings, a CEDARst partner. CB2, a suburban Chicago-based retailer and subsidiary of Crate&Barrel, sells spare and simple furnishings with meticulous attention to detail. Finishes in the apartments include stainless steel appliances, high-end bathroom fixtures and a washer and dryer in each unit.

“We’re seeing millennials eschewing ‘stuff’ to focus on personal development and experience; people who have lost or downsized a job and need to do with less; families who are opting to live more simply so they can save for their children’s college tuition or their own retirement,” said Michael in a prepared statement.

“Our priority at CEDARst is to provide beautiful, smart apartments that suit people’s specific needs—whether it’s a studio, one- or two-bedroom unit, and then show our residents ways to maximize the space.”

Email Kimberley Sirk.

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