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Uptown Developer Finds New Bikes Enticing New Tenants

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Visitors staying overnight at some Chicago hotels have long been able to borrow bikes during their stays, but now one apartment building owner has upped the ante and is giving away bikes for rather longer-term stays.

Cedar Street Companies is offering free custom bicycles as an incentive for new tenants to sign two-year leases before year's end at its FLATS Chicago apartment buildings. The bikes will be built to order by Heritage Bicycles, a Lakeview-based bicycle and coffee shop. Heritage will also bring "outposts," serving up food but not bikes, within two FLATS buildings in Uptown, at 1325 W. Wilson Avenue and at the former Lawrence House Hotel.

"It seemed to make a lot of sense to work with Heritage, who's in our building now," said Daly Donnellan of FLATS, which began the promotion a few weeks ago. "We've already gotten a handful of people signed up to get a free bike." New residents can secure their bikes in bike rooms within each building, since FLATS apartments are known to be on the small side. Donnellan says that demand for bike parking has been healthy enough that the company has "look[ed] for other places to add additional storage... so far, it's worked out."

Newly bike-equipped residents can also easily go out for a ride with friends, thanks to a bike-share program that lets residents check out additional bikes from the front desk. FLATS has also requested bike corrals from the city to provide ample on-street parking for two-wheeled visitors to the buildings or their Heritage Outposts. None of the buildings offer car parking on site.

FLATS is currently leasing four buildings in Uptown, Edgewater, and Ravenswood, with two more under renovation and others on the way. Some neighbors, especially in Uptown, aren't entirely happy with how Cedar Street has raised rents in the vintage buildings it has rebranded as FLATS, and recently helped to win city approval of an ordinance aimed at making such conversions more difficult.

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