Although they were renters from Chicago's River North neighborhood, Bethany and Alden Van Solkema had not spent much time in the South Loop before they shopped for condos there. Now they are sold on the historic area's neighborly atmosphere.
"Here, there are lots of parents with strollers and people walking dogs," Bethany said. "River North was great, but it had more tourists and single people. We wanted to buy in a neighborhood where we can stay after we start our family."
The Van Solkemas bought a two-bedroom condo on the 13th floor of Harbor View, Related Midwest's condo tower at 1901 S. Calumet Ave. The second bedroom temporarily doubles as an office and a guest room. When the couple start their family, it will be a nursery.
From the 30-story building, Bethany drives to her job as an events organizer for a church in northern Indiana. Alden takes the bus or rides his bicycle to his Chicago job as a commercial banker. "By bike, I can be there quicker, in 15 to 20 minutes," he said.
On weekends, the couple take the pedestrian underpass at Lake Shore Drive to access the path on Lake Michigan's shore. They walk to favorite restaurants, including City Tavern and Zapatista.
The couple enjoy trying out new restaurants across the city with other young married couples from their River North church.
"We like the ones with outdoor seating so we can take Porsche," Bethany said, referring to their poodle/Maltese mix.
The Van Solkemas' romance sparked at their Michigan college after a long friendship. Bethany is a native of Palos Heights, and Alden's family is from Michigan but has since moved to Elmhurst. "Now, both families are nearby," Bethany said.
Alden's Michigan roots gave him a lifelong affinity for Lake Michigan.
"I like being nearby, being able to go to the beach or just walk along the (lakeshore) path," he said.
Porsche has plenty of canine company at Harbor View. "There are lots of dogs here," Bethany said. "There's an off-leash dog run in back and a dog park nearby. The staff is very dog-friendly."
The Van Solkemas' 1,029-square-foot corner unit has floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony, both with "amazing views," Bethany said. "We can see downtown and watch sunsets to the west."
Their kitchen has granite countertops, European cabinetry and a peninsula. "We cook together, so there's plenty of room for both of us," Bethany said. "When we have people over, the open floor plan means we can cook while talking to our guests."
Bethany's favorite amenity is the dual-sink vanity in their master bathroom. "We each have our own space," she said. The bathroom also provides plenty of room for the creation of hairstyles for special events that Bethany does for her girlfriends.
After moving in May, the Van Solkemas used the building's 30th-floor outdoor deck when they had company. "After dinner, we could be outside and hang out by the pool," Bethany said. On the Fourth of July, they joined residents who gathered poolside to watch fireworks.
As an events organizer, Bethany appreciates the entertainment suite. "If we want to have a large group like a baby shower or football party, we can use it instead of our condo," she said.
Harbor View was redeveloped by Related Midwest in Chicago. It includes condos from $262,000 for a one-bedroom unit to $531,000 for a three-bedroom unit. Sizes range from 725 to 1,625 square feet. It also includes eight four-level town houses that start at $690,000 and cover 2,425 to 2,855 square feet.
About 200 of the building's 296 units are sold. Prices include parking spaces in an indoor heated garage.
Interior amenities such as tile or engineered-wood flooring, granite or quartz countertops and, in some units, soaking tubs vary by unit.
For more information, visit harborviewchicago.com or call 312-662-1900.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun