Market Conditions: As Thousands of Apartments Come Online, Are Condo Landlords in Trouble in 2018?

We’ve been chattering for over a year about the dozens of luxury apartment high rises that have been built in the Green Zone and the implications of all those units.

But the boom isn’t over yet.

Thousands more apartments are expected to come online in the next two years.

Crain’s reports:

But the once-hot market is getting chillier amid an unprecedented development boom. Developers will complete a record 4,500 downtown apartments this year, 3,500 in 2018 and as many as 5,000 in 2019, Integra predicts.

While demand for apartments is as strong as it’s ever been, it’s not keeping up with supply. Absorption, the change in the number of occupied units, will total about 2,900 units this year—also a record—and 3,000 in both 2018 and 2019, according to Integra. Put another way, downtown supply growth—13,000 new apartments over three years—will exceed demand by 4,100 units, or 46 percent.

Apparently, apartment landlords are now getting nervous.

This winter, the incentives at the luxury buildings have increased as more units sit empty.

“The difference now is there’s more fear of the unknown. We’re getting aggressive because you don’t know,” says Jim Letchinger, president of Chicago-based JDL Development, which opened a 250-unit tower at 640 N. Wells St. over the summer. “Is this just seasonal, or is this something else?”

Leasing in the building is ahead of schedule but has slowed considerably. The building’s conversion rate, or the percentage of people who visit its leasing office and sign leases, has dropped to about 20 percent from 40 percent six months ago, Letchinger says.

JDL has offered two months’ free rent for some apartments, but only on leases for 17 months or longer, he says. In exchange for free rent, many landlords require leases longer than 12 months.

Arkadia Tower, a 350-unit West Loop high-rise that opened in 2015, was recently offering two months’ free rent for leases that begin Nov. 30, plus $100 off the monthly rent, according to an email sent out to brokers. On a hypothetical apartment listed for $2,700 per month, the deal works out to a nearly 20 percent discount. The email (subject line: “Christmas Came Early @ Arkadia West Loop!”) also offered a broker commission equaling a month and a half of rent.

“Right now is a great time to rent an apartment,” said Aaron Galvin, founder and CEO of Luxury Living, an apartment broker. “The renter does want to feel like they’re winning in some way now. . . .They’re expecting to get something.”

New tenants at one Loop building get to spin a wheel for cash prizes ranging from $150 to $1,000. Other landlords are offering free Netflix, internet, parking—even televisions.

But according to Crain’s, it’s not just the new buildings that are offering free rent. Older buildings that are already full are offering it to keep tenants which is unusual.

With older buildings feeling competitive pressure, it made me wonder, what does this mean for the condo landlords?

In years past, the condo rental would have been preferred because those buildings were considered “nicer” and more up-to-date, but today’s luxury apartment towers have newer finishes. Many condo towers are now 10+ years old.

Additionally, apartment buildings often offer even nicer amenities, including rock climbing walls and free coffee daily in the lobby.

What’s a condo landlord do to compete?

Will they have to offer 1-3 months free rent like the apartment buildings?

Will they have to waive move-in fees because the luxury apartment buildings are?

Do they need to renovate their unit so they have modern finishes?

Or simply lower the rent enough until they find someone?

Just doing a quick search of condo rentals downtown, and you can see some that are sitting on the market for several months. Yes, it’s the “slow season” but every month you don’t have a renter, is lost money.

Just doing a search of the listings and I find:

  • Near North Side: 796 properties listed for rent
  • Loop: 252
  • Near West Side: 214
  • West Town: 306
  • Near South Side: 180
  • Lake View: 408

Some of these will also be single family homes and townhouses, not just condos. And some apartment landlords are also listing their more expensive units on the MLS.

But this is a lot of inventory in the “slow season.”

Here’s an example of what is going on out there.

This 2-bedroom in The Pinnacle at 21 E. Huron in River North has been on the market since August 2017.

21 e huron #2

It’s a corner west-facing unit with 1446 square feet.

It has hardwood floors in the living/dining rooms.

The kitchen has dark wood cabinets, granite counter tops and black appliances.

The bathrooms are marble.

The unit has central air, washer/dryer in the unit and it looks like garage parking is included (although I’m not 100% sure on that.)

Since listing in August 2017, the price has been reduced 12.5% to $4200 a month.

21 e huron #1

You can see the pictures here.

21 E. Huron #1407: 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1446 square feet

  • Listed for rent in August 2017 for $4800 a month
  • Reduced
  • Currently listed at $4200 a month
  • Looks like parking might be included. There’s an attached garage
  • Indoor pool
  • Movie theater
  • Bedroom #1: 12×17
  • Bedroom #2: 12×12

What is its competition?

Just across the street is the new construction modern tower 8 E. Huron (on the corner of Huron and State.)

It has a rooftop pool and curated art on every floor.

It has hardwood floors throughout.

The kitchen has white modern cabinets.

The bathrooms aren’t marble but have white modern finishes.

You can see pictures of that apartment here.

8 E. Huron #903: 2 bedroom, 2.5 baths, 1285 square feet

  • Just came on the market at $4340 a month
  • Looks like it might include the parking
  • The building just opened- not sure what incentives they’re giving
  • Bedroom #1: 14×13
  • Bedroom #2: 12×11

Will 2018 be brutal for condo landlords trying to compete?

Apartment Landlords’ New Pitch: Let’s Make a Deal! [Crain’s Chicago Business, by Alby Gallun, November 22, 2017]

 

64 Responses to “Market Conditions: As Thousands of Apartments Come Online, Are Condo Landlords in Trouble in 2018?”

  1. It sounds like they’re building too much upper tier stuff. The properties on Huron would need a renter(s) making around $200,000.

    If the glut continues, you’ll see the banks/investors start slow rolling the funding and squeezing the developers.

    As for condo owners renting, if you’re in an cheap condo (AKA Invesco) you can only compete on price and they’re going to get hammered. Condo owners renting in nicer properties will seek out non-millennials ie folks that dont want a rock climbing wall

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  2. This was obvious for the last 2-3 years. It’s the Holland tulips all over again, another bubble bursting.

    with regards to the newer vs older condo in this posting. I actually like the older condo better (with the exception of the wall paint colors).

    As a landlord of a older (30 year old) condo unit, i think I will not be too adversely affected as the new buildings have mostly been luxury buildings. Even if the luxury buildings decrease rents, I don’t think it will be sufficient to be cheaper than my old basic unit. My tenants are more of the basic place to live variety.

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  3. WWJTD? AND BY THAT I MEAN “WHAT WOULD JAN TERRI DO?”
    MEERY CHRISTMAS MY FRIENDZ LOLZ!!!!!!!!!
    https://youtu.be/OcAVheZAxDU

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  4. “As a landlord of a older (30 year old) condo unit, i think I will not be too adversely affected as the new buildings have mostly been luxury buildings. Even if the luxury buildings decrease rents, I don’t think it will be sufficient to be cheaper than my old basic unit. My tenants are more of the basic place to live variety.”

    I agree with this assessment. We rent a condo in River North that we purchased in 2011. Our building and unit don’t have high end finishes but the unit does have the standard stainless steel/granite, and our tenants are getting a good amount of space for the price. If anything, I think the increase of high end rentals make our neighborhood more desirable for young professionals. Our tenants told us they wanted to stay in River North but were priced out of all of the new buildings.

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  5. As rents drop the condo landlords are going to reconsider selling. Holding onto the condo might be appear attractive at current rents but not when they start facing the prospect of vacancies or lower rents. And when the luxury tier rents come down they start drawing tenants from the next tier down, for whom the upgrade is now within their grasp.

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  6. We’re in pretty much the same boat as b and Marie, with a solid 2BR/2BA in one of the low-rise condo buildings in Dearborn Park I. We have some awesome ongoing tenants and have kept rent increases low, both to maintain our tenants and because we’d probably need to fix up the place to charge significantly more money. (All in-unit amenities/appliances are present, but finishes are very dated.) No climbing walls or fitness centers in our building.

    Our monthly rent is so far below these price points, I don’t think we’re competing in the same market. I think there’s a lot of thrifty Millennials out there, and wouldn’t be too worried about getting new tenants if the old ones had to move.

    However, we may swap residences and rent out our current McKinley Park place so we can get our kid into South Loop Elementary (our fall-back for CPS schooling).

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  7. how about not charging over 4 grand for a 2bd rental? that’ll clear the market quick.

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  8. “how about not charging over 4 grand for a 2bd rental? that’ll clear the market quick.”

    But how are they supposed to cover the mortgage for less than $4k?

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  9. Eliminate Free Coffee, Rock Climbing walls and curated art

    Im guessing curated art is code for developer/financier’s untalented child or side action

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  10. “But how are they supposed to cover the mortgage for less than $4k?”

    maybe they’re already more underwater than they know and this market is overpriced given 65% underfunding of public pensions that easily needs 50-100% tax increases.

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  11. As a renter, I’m absolutely loving all of the new River North apartments coming online at 311 Illinois, 225 Hubbard, 640 N Wells, 167 W Erie, Niche905, 8 E Huron, 750 N Hudson, …. I could go on. My rent did not increase this past summer and I’m going to negotiate hard for a decrease next summer. Build baby, BUILD!!!

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  12. “Our building and unit don’t have high end finishes but the unit does have the standard stainless steel/granite, and our tenants are getting a good amount of space for the price.”

    Many “older” condo buildings aren’t renting their units either. Even 2/2s listed at $2600 are lowering. Ditto for big 1-bedrooms.

    Condo landlords just can’t compete with 1-3 months free rent, free parking or no move-in fees.

    Of course, there is a market for everything for the right price. But those rental prices will come down the same as they will on the overbuilt luxury units.

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  13. “Our monthly rent is so far below these price points, I don’t think we’re competing in the same market”

    Don’t be complacent. Shit rolls downhill. There is a very big glut in the market now at all price points. When the top tier apartments reduce, they are effectively renting for, let’s say $3, 800. So your lesser tiered apartment, that you were getting $3,100, will now fetch only $2,800. So start moving out to the neighborhoods and the nice 2 bedroom near the blue line now reduces to $2,500 from $2,650. And on it rolls. It’s happening right now. Great for renters, bad for property managers.

    It will correct itself, but real estate is a long term prospect so this will take a few years.

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  14. Don’t be complacent. Crap rolls downhill. It’s going to effect every single tier.

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  15. Well GoneFishin, our South Loop 2BR/2BA is renting currently for under $2K … and it completely covers our monthly nut for this property. We could bump this up by hundreds of dollars a month and still fall waaaaaay below your lowest listed monthly rents, above. I’m not worried at all.

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  16. Well, Juiceman, sounds like you are in good shape. Good for you. Please understand I’m talking generally. It will roll down hill. Sure you think you could rent for hundreds more, most landlords do. In fact, multi unit apartment buildings for sale always say “rents way below market, could raise easily”. But I always say “if you could raise, you would raise (unless it’s family or something).

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  17. I don’t really think an excess of 4k luxury units is going to make too many waves across the city, especially with the population growth in the neighborhoods that these buildings are in

    I mean yeah that would be cool if rents got cheaper, but they never ever do…

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  18. Some of my friends have had success buying 3 flats in lower middle class areas like Berwin and Belmont Craigin. The renters don’t expect that much. They keep the places in good repair, but the units have cheap finishes. The only problems they have encountered was finding renters with decent credit.

    I would worry about renting out a condo. I could make a little money by renting mine out now, but the assessments and taxes are always going up. I think eventually, I would start to lose money.

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  19. I doubt the rise of luxury apartments in River North are going to impact rents in Hermosa.

    For condo owners in the green zone, it is hard to compete against management companies that have the ability to waive move-in fees and offer other incentives.

    So while YMMV, if you are holding onto a green zone condo in hopes of passive income when you retire, you might be better off just selling it as soon as you can.

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  20. Juiceman posted a very rational approach to establishing asking rent for renewal for their rental condo but apparently that eluded some:
    “… We have some awesome ongoing tenants and have kept rent increases low, both to maintain our tenants and because we’d probably need to fix up the place to charge significantly more money. (All in-unit amenities/appliances are present, but finishes are very dated.) No climbing walls or fitness centers in our building…”

    Fwiw imo there’s a glut of B, B- & C+ condos available but asking 20%+ above mkt in GC & Sandburg Vill. Ex.: 2 bed/2ba in SV on 3rd fl in nice cond. but overlooking what’ll be a const. site for next 2+ yrs.

    While ultimately it’s a landlord’s responsibility to recognize & react to mkt conditions, I blame their RE brokers for not giving owners reality therapy. Imo it partly reflects broker’s calculus that the possibility of receiving $2800 comm’n in 5/18 beats collecting $2250 from a potentially irritated client in 11/17. That delay causes little pain to the broker. But a 6 months vacancy means landlord’s upside is collecting $16,800 (gross) by 11/18 (only if a tenant agrees to pay above mkt rent in 5/18) vs collecting $27,000 @ $2250 is received beginning in 12/17. Jmo

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  21. Are condo owners renting out their unit factoring in 10% property tax increases every year for the next five years? CPS is raising property taxes to fund its pension, the city is raising property taxes (to fund police and fire pensions) and water fees (fund municipal workers pension funds) seen in your assessments. Also, don’t forget the every three years county reassessment in your property values, which will increase your taxes as well.

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  22. I don’t think you can raise rents just because your costs go up. Rents are determined by market forces. If costs go up and rents stay constant then prices go down in order to keep the cap rate relatively stable.

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  23. “CPS is raising property taxes…”
    I didn’t know CPS had the authority to raise property taxes.

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  24. GoneFishin, yes CPS is a separate government body from the city of Chicago and it has it’s own real estate tax authority.

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  25. “Are condo owners renting out their unit factoring in 10% property tax increases every year for the next five years? CPS is raising property taxes to fund its pension, the city is raising property taxes (to fund police and fire pensions) and water fees (fund municipal workers pension funds) seen in your assessments. Also, don’t forget the every three years county reassessment in your property values, which will increase your taxes as well.”

    It always kills me to hear my friends who rent complain about rent increases when my property taxes have gone up by much more than their rent. I wonder how these landlords can afford to keep having their profits go down.

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  26. RE taxes are just one component of operating expenses for a multi family property. If underwritten properly, there is generally a 1.20x Debt Service Coverage ratio, which is Net Operating Income / Debt Service.

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  27. Maybe people are completely unprepared for the guaranteed liabilities due to the city and state and will in fact suffer intense and long term losses?

    http://www.truthinaccounting.org/library/doclib/CHI-2016-2pager.pdf

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  28. Mike, the pension and bond liabilities are not due next year, they are due over the next 40-50 years. That’s some bad math there.

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  29. that truth in accounting link reads like it was written by a 7th grader for a school project

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  30. so taxes aren’t going up 50% in the next five years after 50-100% real estate tax increases in the past 5?

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  31. My taxes have gone up 20% in the last six years, about the same as my home’s appreciation.

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  32. ” 50-100% real estate tax increases in the past 5?”

    In 2003, the aggregate property tax bill in Chicago was $3,420,262,098.

    In 2016, the aggregate property tax bill in Chicago was $5,288,417,876.

    That’s 55% over 13 years. CPI was +30% over the same time. So that’s a real $ increase of under 20%.

    5 years ago (2011), the aggregate property tax bill in Chicago was $4,097,888,776. That’s up 29%, with CPI +7.58%; also a real $ increase of under 20%.

    Or are you just talking about the levy from one of the individual governments?

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  33. My taxes have gone up ~40% in the last three years and that’s with my property being way undervalued by the assessor.

    It feels like Rahm is forcing us from our homes.

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  34. “It feels like Rahm is forcing us from our homes.”

    Little Richie Daley is the one who did this, by continuing to out-spend the incoming revenue for 20+ years, and not having the fortitude to either cut spending or raise taxes.

    Government deficit spending is just a deferred tax increase, and we’re now bearing the brunt of deficits from 20 years ago.

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  35. “Little Richie Daley is the one who did this, by continuing to out-spend the incoming revenue for 20+ years, and not having the fortitude to either cut spending or raise taxes.”

    They never cut spending. It’s madness. Instead the tax payers are forced to cut their spending. It is galling that I have to give up a vacation so that I can pay for former union members to go on vacation instead.

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  36. What upsets me is all this new construction for years, years, years built on empty lots in gentrifying neighborhoods. The empty lots generated little revenue and now giant high rises, like in the south loop, generate millions. Same is true for the new places in River North, or places like the grand/halsted corridor. Grand and Halsted had one Como inn and now it’s got hundreds of condos generating so much tax revenue and they still can’t stop spending with all this excess money.

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  37. “What upsets me is all this new construction for years, years, years built on empty lots in gentrifying neighborhoods.”

    Which evinces a misunderstanding of how property taxation works in Chicago. All that new construction keeps your bill from being higher.

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  38. Thanks Rahm. I mean, anon (tfo).

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  39. “Thanks Rahm.”

    You’re welcome! Always happy to educate the ill-informed.

    Now, tell us again how awful Ogden is, and how unreasonable the doormen at 30 W Oak are for not letting you park in their loading zone.

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  40. Wow, you kind of have a crush on me remembering all my posts. Aw, shucks (blushes)..I’m sorry, I’m taken…..

    Well, since you insist, Ogden is really awful, glad we, and many others left. And, the 30 w. Oak building doesn’t have a loading zone. So, consider taking a remedial reading class if you think I wrote that, and, learn to distinguish when people are making fun of your stupidity vs. really thanking you. . Bye, sweet cheeks.

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  41. I’ve been thinking of buying a vacation condo in Chicago. Is the Millenium Park area best?

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  42. “So, consider taking a remedial reading class if you think I wrote that, and, learn to distinguish when people are making fun of your stupidity vs. really thanking you”

    Oh, I will. I certainly take everything you write as sincerely earnest. Your genuine concern for my reading comprehension is absolutely shining through.

    PS: I’ll be sure to share with you the contact information for my reading tutor.

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  43. PS: I actually AM Rahm. Which is why I only quoted that part of your comment.

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  44. pps: When you make the same stupid complaint about something approximately 100 times, it’s going to be noticed and recalled by anyone who isn’t dull normal. Just like Jenny’s bathroom requirements and anonny’s microhood issues.

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  45. “PS: I actually AM Rahm.”

    That would not surprise me in the slightest actually. But your familiarity with obscure legal terms leads me to believe you have a law degree, whereas Rahm does not. But then again, maybe Rahm does spend his entire day on cribchatter adding up square footage while Chicago burns.

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  46. And your proclivity for picky petty fights with random posters is exactly something Rahm would do.

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  47. “picky petty fights with random posters”

    Didn’t realize you considered yourself a random poster, HD.

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  48. Wouldn’t rahm swear a lot more? a la the fake twitter acct.

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  49. “I’ve been thinking of buying a vacation condo in Chicago. Is the Millenium Park area best?”

    Scott, it depends so much on how often you are going to come here, what you want to do when you are here, what time of year you are going to come, what you are willing to spend, and how big of a place you need.

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  50. “: When you make the same stupid complaint about something approximately 100 times, it’s going to be noticed and recalled by anyone who isn’t dull normal. Just like Jenny’s bathroom requirements and anonny’s microhood issues”

    Wow, exaggerate much? Lol. And honestly, I have no interest in retaining Jenny’s bathroom issues or annoys hood issues. These are anonymous people on a little board, I don’t know what anybody’s preferences are, nor do I care. It’s fascinating that you keep track of this. Sad. I guess I’m busy keeping up with my family and friends in real life.

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  51. “keep track of this”

    Having the capacity to recall trivia isn’t exactly an interesting attribute, but most people have it. Guess I’m just not dull normal, that’s all.

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  52. Honestly, Tiny Dancer, not many people remember trivial blather about anonymous people on websites. Sounds like you have a gift though. Good for you.

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  53. “I’ve been thinking of buying a vacation condo in Chicago. Is the Millenium Park area best?”

    As Gary said already, there are far too many variables to answer this question.

    What I would do is come to the city and stay in hotels in various neighborhoods and see if I liked the vibe, the restaurants, the things to do.

    So I would stay in hotels in:

    1. The Millennium Park/Grant Park area
    2. Streeterville
    3. River North
    4. Gold Coast – including far north Gold Coast- north of Division

    If you come in the winter, you can stay really cheaply in all of those neighborhoods.

    Otherwise, there are too many neighborhoods and factors (like views, high rise v low rise etc.)

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  54. “Little Richie Daley is the one who did this, by continuing to out-spend the incoming revenue for 20+ years, and not having the fortitude to either cut spending or raise taxes.”

    This.

    Why do you think he retired? He could have stayed in there another 4 to 8 years. Easily. But he knew that the payment was about to come due so why stick around for the nasty part that Rahm is having to deal with? (i.e. pensions blowing up, raising taxes etc.)

    I voted for Rahm because I felt he was most realistic about the pain. And yes, there IS pain and we have to pay it now. It sucks that the city’s management was so bad for so long (and don’t get me started on what they sold the parking meters for.)

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  55. I think every can remember what a douche *you* are.

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  56. I voted for you too anon(tfo) when i lived in the city and i’d vote for you again if I still lived there. Very rarely do I vote (D) but it’s difficult to avoid in chicago.

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  57. “I think every can remember what a douche *you* are.””

    Come on dude you’re killing the vibe for the holiday party!

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  58. “They never cut spending. It’s madness.”

    Bullshit. They never ADVERTISE that they cut spending. But the fact is the number of municipal employees working for the City of Chicago has declined by over 7,000 in the last decade. Rahm has gone after sweetheart water deals, sweetheart rental deals (Millennium Park Grill), delinquent accounts from suburbs using our infrastructure but not paying, TIF abuse, etc.

    The amount Rahm has fiscally cleaned up this city is pretty good. But I’m sure you know better there sitting in your office chair not having to put any fucking effort into the situation.

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  59. “The amount Rahm has fiscally cleaned up this city is pretty good. But I’m sure you know better there sitting in your office chair not having to put any fucking effort into the situation.”

    I work hard so that f*cker can pay his cronies and lazy union retirees. Let’s see, more than 1 out of 3 city workers makes over $100,000. I also doubt the 7,000 employee “cuts” are real. The work was probably just shifted to outside companies with whom Rahm is friends with the owners. He could easily have cut things and we could have avoided these astronomical property tax hikes. Instead, he chose the easy route and raked in a ton of money earned by hard working lower middle class people.

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  60. “He could easily have cut things and we could have avoided these astronomical property tax hikes.”

    No, the die was cast in the late 90s, and then glued down by li’l Richie’s quest for the Olympics, and the stupid 10 years contracts he doled out. Rahm (hypothetically) could eliminate most city services (like: fire department, police, etc) and we’d still not get a tax cut because of the hole that Richie dug.

    Has Rahm been perfect from the perspective of the Chicago taxpayer? Not hardly, but you don’t seem to have any knowledge about why we are in the mess we live with.

    “money earned by hard working lower middle class people”

    Since when have you cared about the poorz??

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  61. “But the fact is the number of municipal employees working for the City of Chicago has declined by over 7,000 in the last decade. ”

    But how many hundreds of thousands has Chicago lost in the last two, three decades? 7,000 is a nice start but needs a ways to go.

    ” But I’m sure you know better there sitting in your office chair not having to put any fucking effort into the situation.”

    I put in my effort – I left the City and moved to the suburbs. I work out there most of the time too. I’m doing my part to help Chicago collapse financially so that it will be better for future generations.

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  62. I posted a response, but it looks like it didn’t actually get posted.

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  63. HD: “I put in my effort – I left the City and moved to the suburbs. I work out there most of the time too. I’m doing my part to help Chicago collapse financially so that it will be better for future generations.”

    You make it sound like you work for The People’s Law Office.

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  64. “I’m doing my part to help Chicago collapse financially so that it will be better for future generations.”

    It didn’t work HD. It’s richer than any time in the last 50 years. Is the growth unequal throughout the city? Yes. But the north side is rich, rich, rich now. People won’t even move to suburbs like Lake Forest because they prefer the city.

    Amazing.

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