Exploring 5 Common Types of Chicagoland Multi-Family Buildings

Whether you’re in the market for a home with incredible skyline views, a stunning central courtyard, or lofted ceilings and industrial finishes, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for in Chicagoland. 

Multi-family buildings are a common sight not just in the city, but all around the Chicagoland area. Throughout Chicagoland, multi-family housing is an incredibly popular option for many different types of buyers — and there are almost as many different types of multi-unit buildings as there are eager homeseekers.

So, what sets the Chicago area’s multi-unit buildings apart? Here’s a quick guide to five of the most common styles of multi-unit housing you’ll find throughout Chicagoland. What catches your eye?

Two-flat home

Two-Flats, Three-Flats, and Four-Flats

Two-flats, and their larger cousins, three-flats and four-flats, are some of the most iconic structures in all of Chicagoland. Comprised of two or more multi-bedroom single-family units stacked one on top of the other, you’ll find these buildings in neighborhoods throughout the city. According to recent reports, 2-4 unit buildings make up about 27 percent of the housing stock in Chicago. Two-flats exploded in popularity in the early 1900s, as Chicago’s growing population began looking for more living space, as well as the opportunity to make income from renting out one or more of the units in the building. Two-flats tend to have fairly similar layouts, and are known for their common features, which often include large, offset front porches; generous front-facing windows; brick, wood, or stone facades; and green space in the front and rear of the building.

Courtyard building in Chicago

Courtyard Buildings

Designed to help maximize the space and livability of a Chicago lot, courtyard buildings are a common sight all over the city and well into the suburbs. Generally, courtyard buildings are built in a U-shape, with blocks of multi-unit apartment towers all sharing a common green space in the center, facing the street. This style of building really came into fashion circa 1910-1930, as a way to create housing density without sacrificing privacy or quality of life. For instance, in most cases, a tenant or owner only shares a building entrance with a few other units, rather than the entire building. These units also generally feature back access through a shared staircase in the rear of the building. And at the center of it all, a well-manicured courtyard space offers each unit ample light, air flow, and a view of the central gardens or landscaping features.

Skyscrapers in Chicagoland

High-Rises and Skyscrapers

Chicago has been called the “home of the skyscraper” — and for good reason. The Windy City is well-known for being the birthplace of the world’s very first skyscraper, the 10-story Home Insurance Building, which climbed to life in the 1880s. One of the reasons why Chicago became such a central hub for high-rise buildings? Following the devastation of the Great Chicago Fire, developers saw the opportunity to rebuild the city, using new building materials and techniques that allowed them to go higher than ever before. Today, Chicago is home to hundreds of skyscrapers, including some of the most iconic structures in the world. While many of the area’s tallest buildings are concentrated around the Loop, you’ll find high-rise living all over Chicagoland, from Evanston to the South Shore and beyond.

Mixed-use developments in Chicago

Mixed-Use Developments

Located on the north bank of the Chicago River is an awe-inspiring site that draws visitors from all over the world: the Marina City complex. Known for its distinctive dual towers, which look a little bit like two corn-cobs, Marina City was intended to act as a community within the city, offering shopping, living, dining, business, and entertainment facilities, all brought together in one space. While this was an audacious idea for the 1960s, today, mixed-use developments are commonplace all over Chicago and throughout Illinois. You’ll find many different examples of mixed-use buildings throughout the area, including residential/commercial complexes, office/residential buildings, and hotel/residential developments, among others.

Mid-rise building in Chicagoland

Mid-Rise Buildings

Mid-rise buildings can be found throughout the Chicagoland area. Generally speaking, mid-rise buildings in our region tend to be around three to six stories. Some of these buildings may be mixed-use developments with commercial storefronts or parking on the ground level, while others will be truly residential. In many cases, these buildings will house multiple residential units per floor, and the complex might include everything from studio units to multi-bedroom, multi-level duplex or triplex units.

There’s Always More to Discover

While this guide hopefully helps as an entry-point into Chicagoland’s array of multi-family housing, we’ve truly barely scratched the surface on the amazing variety of housing styles available in our area. Chicagoland is home to countless unique multi-unit buildings with spaces to buy or rent, from subdivided mansions, to converted churches, to renovated warehouses and factories.

Whatever type of home you’re looking for, you’ll find it — especially when you’re searching with the support of Chicagoland’s largest independent and family-owned real estate company.

Want to learn more about the types of homes available in your favorite neighborhoods? We’ve got you covered. At Baird & Warner, we get you. Our agents are hyperlocal experts who know the Chicagoland area inside and out. We’re here to field your questions about buying or selling, and make the dream of homeownership easier, at every step of the way.

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