Student Apartments in Historic Chicago Structure Trades Hands

JMG Realty Inc. and Empire Square Group have acquired the 482-bed Automatic Loft Apartments in Chicago, a student housing property in the West Loop neighborhood just west of downtown.

Chicago—JMG Realty Inc. and Empire Square Group have acquired the 482-bed Automatic Loft Apartments in Chicago, a student housing property in the West Loop neighborhood just west of downtown. The property was redeveloped into student housing in 2006, and also includes 5,800 square feet of ground-floor retail space and a parking garage.

The apartments serve the student population of the nearby University of Illinois at Chicago campus, but students who attend other schools also live there, since the property counts as a TOD, with a connection to CTA Blue Line trains. Other schools that can be reasonably served by Automatic Lofts include Columbia College, Robert Morris and DePaul University.

The structure dates back to 1910, when it was developed to house the Automatic Electric Co., which produced Strowger electromagnetic telephone switches. That state-of-the-art technology of the time allowed phone customers to connect their own calls without operator assistance, which was previously impossible.

Communications tech in the current housing property will be considerably more sophisticated. According to JMG executive vice president Jean Woodworth, the new owners will provide gigabit Internet and Wi-Fi to every unit, a much sought-after amenity in student housing.

The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Original building components still in place include timber columns, high ceilings and exposed brick walls. JMG and Empire plan a number of enhancements to Automatic Lofts’ common areas and building services in the coming months.