Seeking new ways to keep their buildings full, more apartment owners are dabbling in the hotel business, teaming up with short-term rental startups like Sonder and Stay Alfred. The developer of Essex on the Park, a new 56-story high-rise across from Grant Park, has leased 92 of the building’s 479 units to Sonder, which rents them out Airbnb-style to tourists and business travelers.

Venture capital is fueling the trend, financing new real estate models that are blurring the lines between the apartment, hotel, and student housing businesses. Though yet to be recession-tested, the ideas are gaining currency among apartment landlords, historically not the most innovative bunch.

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