Multifamily Housing May Be Picking Itself Off The Mat After Tough 2020

Bisnow interviewed Fifield SVP Jon Schneider on the resurgence in leasing activity in our Chicago portfolio. Read the full article at this link

The multifamily sector got stuck in the doldrums throughout much of 2020, with occupancy, rents and new investment falling. The harshest impact of the coronavirus pandemic fell on housing in the downtown market, as renters shied away from areas with the highest density. But even during the pandemic’s worst days this winter, robust leasing continued at a select group of developments outside the urban core.

Fifield Cos. opened its Logan Apartments in the Logan Square neighborhood last March just as fears of COVID-19 shut down a lot of activity, including the in-person showing of new units. The slowdown did not last long, and the company announced near the end of January it had leased 75% of the 220 units.

“Our lease-ups have bucked the trend a bit, but it’s because the neighborhoods have retained a bit of energy that has been lost in the CBD, Gold CoastSouth Loop and the Loop,” Fifield Cos. Senior Vice President Jon Schneider said. “Those areas have lost a lot of buzz and energy and our project is a beneficiary of that.” 

Logan Apartments is a highly amenitized building just off a train line and includes a range of retail tenants like Target, Verizon and several restaurants. It’s the kind of Class-A transit-oriented development that attracted many builders, investors and tenants in the runup to the pandemic, so it isn’t representative of the market as a whole. But its growing stream of potential renters may be a sign that city living still has cachet among affluent renters.

“My job is to read into the renters’ psyche as a whole so I can make sound decisions,” Schneider said, and news of effective vaccines, even if few have actually gotten the shots, has made potential tenants confident enough to once again begin making long-term choices.

Schneider said interest in the development by potential tenants rebounded in early January and hasn’t abated.

“A lot of it is pent-up energy from the year before, but it’s continued into 2021,” he said.

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