Looking for an apartment in Hyde Park
June 14, 2013 3:38 PM   Subscribe

I recently accepted a job at the University of Chicago, and my husband and I are looking to move to Hyde Park in early August. What are some resources that can help us with our apartment search?

So far, the main places I've been looking are the U of C Marketplace website and Craigslist, but I get the feeling that I may be missing out on some other options, specifically in smaller buildings, or those owned by individuals rather than property management companies. Are there other websites I should be checking, or does anyone from the area know of any reputable landlords/property management companies I could contact? Or, for that matter, ones to avoid?

(I do have a friend who grew up in Hyde Park who has been giving me some general info about the neighborhood, but more advice on that front is also welcome.)
posted by rebel_rebel to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There are also tons of rental agencies in Chicago, like Chicago Apartment Finders, Apartment Savvy, Rent Here Realty, and Apartment People, just to name a few. They all charge the landlord the first month's rent, so you're likely to get a better deal through Craigslist or other free means, but I think a slight majority of landlords use one of the services.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 3:52 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I was looking for a place in Hyde Park, granted this was more than a decade ago, I used Reader ads and set up appointments, and I also just walked around looking at places on cute streets that had for rent signs up. Chicago also has a lot of apartment finder services that are worth a try, but don't limit yourselves to them. They usually charge the landlord a month's rent, so some landlords don't list with them.

My apartment was a studio with a lake view, a few blocks from the museum. I still miss that place.
posted by payoto at 3:54 PM on June 14, 2013

Oh, forgot to mention- RentMLS also does something similar to what I mentioned before but they aren't run by a specific service. I also just read my comment and I sound pretty neutral about the services, but I should clarify- I think the services are a little scummy and overpriced (having used them both as landlord and tenant), but they will at least show you a lot of places in a short amount of time.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 3:56 PM on June 14, 2013

We lived in the Blackstone apartment building owned by Mac Apartments. I highly recommend them, the properties they own are all nicely renovated and have doormen and package pick up and stuff. Mac Apartments owns a lot down there!
posted by katypickle at 3:58 PM on June 14, 2013

Also look at marketplace.uchicago.edu. You need a uchicago address to list anything. There are always plenty of apartments up for grabs, and it's a great source for gently-used furnishings, too.

Edit: Ugh, somehow I missed that you knew about this. Well, let me add something useful: the nicest areas of Hyde Park, IMO, are bounded by 51st Street to the north, 55th Street to the south, Greenwood to the west, and the lake to the east. I feel safest within these areas at night, anyway...
posted by artemisia at 4:19 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, I'm a UChicago alumnus (very recent), and the above comment is the first nice thing I've ever heard about MAC.
posted by likedoomsday at 4:19 PM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

Yes, I'll second likesdoomsday. As a former resident of a MAC property, I would look very, very skeptically on any of their listings. They've engaged in a major property grab in Hyde Park and their buildings are really a mixed bag, while their maintenance often leaves MUCH to be desired.
posted by artemisia at 4:21 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Correction: I meant 59th Street to the south! Okay, this is not my day -- retiring from the computer now...
posted by artemisia at 4:25 PM on June 14, 2013

To be fair, I rented with Mac 5+ years ago so maybe they have declined in quality? I was happy there, I swear I don't work for them!
posted by katypickle at 4:35 PM on June 14, 2013

I always recommend that people let the apartment finding services drive them around for a day so they can get a feel for neighborhoods. Let them educate you on what's where at their expense. Maybe you will get lucky. If not, once you've found some you like, you can do as payoto recommended and do some walking and ad answering.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:45 PM on June 14, 2013

Yeah, MAC isn't great, but they do own a ton of buildings. They're very hands off, which (as observed) can be a mixed bag. But they're still worth checking with.

The building that Freehling Pot and Pan is in has some very cute little apartments above it, and the building is managed (I believe) by the owner of the store. They may all be studios though, I'm not sure.
posted by bubukaba at 4:51 PM on June 14, 2013

For what it's worth, I'm a UChicago alumnus (very recent), and the above comment is the first nice thing I've ever heard about MAC.

Nthing this. However, they are buying up LOADS of properties in Hyde Park so you may inevitably end up with them. The quickest way to get MAC to do anything is really to threaten (or actually do) withhold rent for the crap they try to pull. When I was in a MAC apartment one winter, they turned off the heat from around 1am-5am, turned it back on early morning so that when they send a guy over to check the temperature at 8am, it was warm enough...but everyone in the building froze to death while studying into the wee hours of the morning.

You'll probably want to avoid the apartments around 54th/Woodlawn because that's a huge student stronghold and could be a bit loud.

marketplace.uchicago.edu is probably a good bet. Every once in a while someone will list a really nice townhouse for rent up there...
posted by astapasta24 at 5:19 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh I am so excited! I have a lot of information on this. Here are links to the websites of small, non-MAC management companies in Hyde Park.

Blackstone Management
The Carolan Apartments (Marian Realty manages several properties so you should ask about those too)
Kass Management
Keller Williams (call the office number listed)
McKey and Poague (listings)
Parker Holsman (listings)
The Poinsettia Apartments
TLC Management
Wolin-Levin (listings)

I also recommend the aforementioned method of walking or driving around and looking for contact info on the sides of buildings. There are many landlords with only a few buildings who are terrible at advertising because word-of-mouth among students and locals works fine for them.
posted by halonine at 7:48 PM on June 14, 2013

Thank you all so much for your help so far! I should have mentioned that my husband and I don't live in Chicago now (although we are close enough that we could make a day trip), so I like the idea of going around with an apartment-finding company and then taking some time to make note of other "for rent" signs that we see along the way. Also, thanks for your feedback about MAC. Their reviews on Yelp are pretty lousy, so I had been ruling out their properties as I came across them, but wondering if that was reasonable. Sounds like they're pretty universally loathed, so I think I'll just avoid!

Please keep the suggestions coming!
posted by rebel_rebel at 8:00 PM on June 14, 2013

halonine has a good list. Note that for at least a few of those you're better off calling; they don't all have up to date websites. The other thing to try if you want to be really thorough is combing through the MLS rental listings. You can search by neighborhood but double check things, since the filter isn't too reliable. I did find some nice independently listed condos and whatnot there though. I also think the University has some housing it rents out to young faculty, if that applies to you. You can definitely do better, in terms of both price and quality, but it's an easy option that should be acceptable in both respects.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 8:17 PM on June 14, 2013

I rented from Parker-Holsman once (back in 1994, so this is dated), and I was not really happy with them; they promised that an apartment would be renovated by the move-in date, and it was not. Imagine moving all your stuff into half of the apartment so that the floors in the other half could be sanded and varnished; then, a week later, repeat in the other direction.

I rented from McKey and Poague in 1996, and because I am a slow learner, I agreed to the same thing: renting an apartment that needed renovations. My wife and I were going to be away all summer and we were assured that the renovations would be done. They weren't. However, we made a stink, and after learning that my wife was going to be teaching at the U of C in the fall, and that we would really be inconvenienced if the place wasn't ready, they provided us with a temporary place, did the renovations quickly, and then paid for 2 guys and a truck to move us from the temporary place to the apartment we had rented.

My takeaway from that is that when dealing with Hyde Park rental agencies, you should be very clear that you are not a student, but that you have a professional connection with the university (faculty or administrative position is the gold standard, but any non-student job is good). That has also been my and my colleagues' experience with rental agencies in the Amherst, Mass., area, so it's probably not specific to Hyde Park. Agencies know that student renters are inexperienced, likely to cause damage, and not very picky, and they might take advantage of that.

By the way, when I lived there (1986-1997), 51st Street was about the northernmost limit for reasonably safe conditions for middle-class white folk, though when I lived at 51st and University I would often walk up into Kenwood in the evening without feeling unsafe (the guards at Louis Farrakhan's house would sometimes give my wife and me odd looks, but not threatening, more curious). But when I went back six or seven years ago, I was shocked at how gentrified Kenwood has become. I have friends who live at 48th and Kenwood, in a very nice condo; it was the closest to campus they could afford to buy.
posted by brianogilvie at 8:31 PM on June 14, 2013

I would not recommend Blackstone. They're the opposite of Mac: they'll wander around the buildings at random and make unenforceable or downright illegal demands. For example, I locked my bicycle to a street sign outside the building and found a note warning me they would cut the lock and take my bicycle. They did not back off on that until I told them in writing which laws they were threatening to violate. I could tell you so many stories. Just don't rent from Blackstone if you can help it.
posted by d. z. wang at 8:33 PM on June 14, 2013

I rented from the University (a nice building at 53rd & Kimbark) while I was a grad student there. The rents were a little above market rate, but they were impeccably maintained and I didn't experience any shady shenanigans with them as my landlord. Apparently they have some faculty/staff housing available too, so you might get in touch with them and see if you're eligible.
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:50 AM on June 15, 2013

Oh, and it also appears that they offer general information about renting in the area, in addition to actually acting as a landlord. So you might get in touch with them for general advice as well, even if you don't end up renting from them.
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:51 AM on June 15, 2013

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