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Corporate housing industry is big business
By Jean Murphy | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 2/20/2010 12:01 AM

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It is estimated that the corporate housing business in the U.S. and Canada is a $2.7 billion per year industry and that does not even include the private owners who market their properties through services like CorporateHousingbyOwner.com.

About 1,200 full-service and managed corporate housing companies serve North America.

These firms own furnished apartments and lease them out, offering full services like invoicing, bulk statements, placing security deposits in escrow, 24-hour emergency services and housekeeping. So they tend to appeal to corporate relocation departments.

One of the best-known full-service corporate housing companies in Chicago is Manilow Suites. The firm currently owns 178 fully-furnished apartments located in 12 different upscale high-rises in downtown Chicago. Several of the more expensive units are advertised on CorporateHousingbyOwner.com for added visibility.

During the 27 years that Manilow Suites has been in business, owner Francine Manilow said its clients have ranged from business executives to Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood, singer Peter Noone and actors Keith Carradine, Marsha Mason and Donald O'Connor.

Manilow said the appeal of her units to such highly placed people is their location in buildings such as Presidential Towers, Millennium Park Plaza and North Harbor Towers; the quality of Manilow Suites' apartments and furnishings; and the service she offers including once-a-week maid service, high-speed Internet, fully-equipped kitchens, all paper products and their preferred brand of soap and a limited amount of basic snacks and drinks stocked upon check-in.

"I also allow people to check in and out whenever they wish and they only need to give me five days notice of when they want to vacate," Manilow said.

She also has service people on call to help tenants who are having problems with their cable television or appliances or have simply lost their key.

"My average stay is 60 days, but I will also rent on a monthly or even daily basis, depending on what they want," she said.