The Chicago real estate scene continues to roar with excitement. Condos are back with sky-high expectations and prices; luxe rentals continue to attract a diverse population of city lovers; and the amenities race (who designed your kitchen?) continues unabated. Great signs, all, for this growing city!
At 100 years old and $12.5 million, the former Clark Street substation at 924 N. Clark St. has a new lease on life as one of Chicago’s most expensive single-family homes. The six bedrooms, seven terraces and sheer size of 15,000 square feet will impress any visitor, but it’s the extra features that make this Gold Coast home snap with electricity. An in-ground pool teases and tempts on the front lawn, protected by the preserved historic front facade of the gatehouse. Two staircases and an elevator ease transport through the home’s four levels, two of which were added during renovation. There’s also a greenhouse, meditation room, several fireplaces and four-car garage. Light wells and atriums infuse the home with natural light, while two luxury kitchens and a 1,400-bottle wine cellar facilitate grandiose entertaining. Exposed metal beams are a reminder of its past, while a Crestron Smart Home system commandeers it into the future.
GO FIGURE | The Old Chicago Main Post Office
2.5 Million: The number of square feet to be redeveloped inside the West Loop’s biggest white elephant with the just-announced sale of the property to 601W Companies LLC. The big plans for the big space include a three-acre rooftop, outdoor cafes and restored Riverwalk. Is this saga coming to a sanguine conclusion? Stay tuned...
One salutary benefit of the boom in new-build downtown high-rises is the sudden availability of heretofore unseen, and utterly spectacular, views. Take a gander out the living room windows in this full-floor penthouse, unit 7201, for sale at The Legacy at Millennium Park ($6,250,000, Nancy Tassone, 312.215.9701). The three-bedroom, 3-½ bath stunner features sweeping 180-degree vistas of the cityscape (encompassing the Hancock, Trump, and Aon towers, among other landmarks) and, naturally, the lake. On summer evenings, from the finished outdoor terrace, the sightlines on comings and goings in Monroe Harbor, the Millennium Park lights and the Navy Pier fireworks are unparalleled (as are the high-end finishes throughout the space). The property, which comes with two garage spaces, measures 5,000 square feet, including a master suite with three glass walls and a superb bathroom in onyx and marble. If the air up there seems a tad too rarefied, 20 floors down you’ll find the cozier, though still splendid, unit 5103 ($900,000, atproperties.com), a two-bedroom, two-bath unit with 1,497 square feet, southeast exposure, a kitchen with Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances, granite countertops, an open living-dining room and a master suite with walk-in closet and attached bath. All this splendor is enclosed in a contemporary tower conceived by Solomon Cordwell Buenz, the storied Chicago-based design firm, with a full fitness center, heated indoor pool and, with a membership, walkway access to the University Club downstairs. You may never come down. 60 E. Monroe St., 312.252.0060
NEWS ON THE STREET
Jeanne in the Sky—Vista Tower is breaking ground this summer on one of Chicago’s most luxurious residential buildings, with units ranging from $1 million to $17 million. Starchitect Jeanne Gang is already getting kudos for this Lakeshore East jewel. Open for Business—The sales center for the 24-story contemporary high-rise at 808 N. Wells St. will open in June with a fully outfitted kitchen, living area and master bath for buyers to view. Two- to four-bedroom condos from $935,000-$4,500,000 Tall and Slender—Robert A.M. Stern’s One Bennett Park is the hotly anticipated tower at 451 E. Grand Ave. At over 800 feet tall, the residential building unabashedly aims to be the tallest in Streeterville. Grounding that height will be a 1.7 acre park—lean and green.
“We are seeing tremendous development of apartments with even better amenities than the last round. For the most part, in the high end of the rental market, it’s renters by choice. These people could afford condos, but there isn’t the inventory, so they can get an almost- or just-as-nice a place. They are willing to pay a little more to get it.” —Aaron Galvin, managing broker and owner, Luxury Living Chicago Realty
60: The percentage of women—in a 2014 study conducted by California Closets—who found custom luxury amenities more important than the square footage of a home. So it comes as no surprise that fully decked-out walk-in closets are at the top of homeowners’ checklists. These tailor-made spaces offer a personal haven, whether it be a dressing room fit for a king or a fashion blogger’s shoe heaven. From back-lit racks for your favorite Louboutins to seating areas and integrated safes, a closet is the place to show off your design chops. A luxurious walk-in starts at $4,000.
The chairman of Fifield Companies, which she owns with her husband, Steven, is a development dynamo. Best known for taking apartments into the luxe category (with buildings like K Station, K2 and E2 in Evanston), Fifield is now bringing Next to River North and The Sinclair to the Gold Coast—both luxury high-rises that bet big on city living.
How do you decide where to build?
An area’s walkability score is a big factor. Next is close to restaurants, Michigan Avenue, the train station. It’s a location that will attract young people looking for their first city experience as well as empty nesters who are ready for city living with all the amenities and none of the hassles.
What makes it hassle-free?
We build in thoughtful touches, like walk-in closets with great space and double-sink vanities, so a couple can get out the door in the morning, but other amenities are really showstoppers. Next is going to have over 11,000 square feet of amenity space with a pool, cabanas, fire pits—you can entertain outside or inside in the lounge—and you can work from the business center.
Your company is known for high-rises, but that’s not all you do.
We actually own and develop a lot of six-flats and midrise buildings. There are people who love Logan Square or West Town, and we’re not going to get them out of those neighborhoods, so we come to them and give them 10-foot ceilings, plank floors and gorgeous light fixtures.
You’ve got a big investment in Chicago—any worries?
There’s no city that’s perfect, but there are way more advantages to moving your business to Chicago than disadvantages. Our rents are half what they are in San Francisco, and once a person moves here, the quality of life is so good—it’s such a fun and livable city—that they definitely stay here.
With the North, South and main branches of the Chicago River all meeting at the base of the newly opened Wolf Point West, you can be sure panoramic views are a huge selling point—cue the floor-to-ceiling windows. Also taking advantage of the location is the sweeping river walk that’s linked via the Orleans Street bridge to the Chicago Riverwalk. Add in a man cave with a golf simulator and wet bar, plus a 46th floor full of amenities like outdoor grills and fire pits, and you have a building taking advantage of its one-of-a-kind location. Three-bedroom penthouse apartments from $10,900
1: What secured Chicago’s Ukrainian Village the No. 1 spot on Redfin’s list of the hottest neighborhoods in 2016? According to the real estate brokerage firm, it’s all about experience this year—access to public transportation, affordability, character and charm are high on the list of priorities for potential homebuyers—and that’s what positioned the West-side gem above famed neighborhoods like D.C.’s Mount Pleasant and Nashville’s Eastwood. More livable than most, with a median home sale price of $472,000, this 19th century brick flat- and stone-cottage haven is bustling with restaurants, nightlife and history, and is making a name for itself among the nation’s trendiest locales.
Carless millennials are redefining the way Chicago lives. The Blue Line, as it runs through the city’s northwest ’hoods (think Wicker Park and Logan Square) toward O’Hare, is driving transit-oriented development (TOD) in a big, big way. No fewer than nine slick new buildings are popping up along what LG Development’s Brian Goldberg refers to as “The Hipster Superhighway,” otherwise known as Milwaukee Avenue. “Our tenants in these buildings are shifting their money away from paying for cars and into their pockets,” says Goldberg. “People are living and working in the area without increasing congestion—a real positive.” City zoning changes mean more units and less parking; buildings are being designed in close proximity to public transit. Bike amenities (bike-washing and repair stations, deluxe storage) in these buildings—such as LG Development’s 1237-53, 1643, and 1647-57 N. Milwaukee Ave.—are as de rigueur as tricked-out gyms, sought-after retail and restaurant tenants, and roofs with plenty of city-mandated green space. At the 120-unit L (2221 N. Milwaukee Ave.), the 23,000-pound shell of a CTA car will become a hangout space on the amenity deck; perhaps the ultimate nod to TOD.
“As data about the real estate market becomes increasingly available to the public, the modern brokerage must add value through deep knowledge of that data and with enhanced services. Urban Real Estate offers concierge amenities, including a Mercedes fleet with drivers, so clients can get to prospective properties hassle-free.” —Matt Farrell, Urban Real Estate managing partner
LOFT LIVING | Down By the River
Streeterville has come a long way since its shantytown origins in the late 19th century—it’s now one of the hottest (and priciest) ’hoods in Chicago. It’s all about location, location, location: Streeterville sits in the sweet spot between Lake Michigan, Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River. The Lofts at River East ($2,000 to $5,060) make the most of this primo placement. The quarter-mile-long six-story brick edifice, opened in 1920 as the Pugh Terminal Warehouse, has lived myriad lives over the last century, from North Pier Terminal to the River East Art Center. But now, under the development of Group Fox, form meets function in spectacular fashion. Each of the 285 luxury loft apartments sports soaring ceilings with exposed brick walls and 78 different floor plans—the result of the unusual existing space. Select units feature beams and support columns; NanaWall folding glass walls, bringing the outdoors inside. Group Fox went for broke with the outstanding building amenities: a 10,000-square-foot rooftop skydeck with grills, multiple seating areas, an outdoor movie screen and plenty of green elements; a 24/7 huge, well-equipped gym; a gaming room with connecting entertainment lounge; a plush screening room; a waterfront lounge and more. Spacious, industrial-chic living with proximity to great food, shopping and entertainment? It really is cooler by the lake.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater: The Bard died 400 years ago yet still remains relevant; rapturous reviews of CST productions are a testament to that. Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., 312.595.5600
Rural Society: James Beard Award-winning chef Jose Garces (Mercat a la Planxa) takes on the meatcentric cuisine of Argentina and wins. Wagyu beef empanadas and a lush malbec? Yes, please. 455 N. Park Drive, 312.840.6605
Navy Pier: The Centennial Wheel is just the beginning of this landmark’s redevelopment. Thoughtful new programming, landscape and design aim to make the pier a local fave as well as a tourist destination. 800 E. Grand Ave.
TECH LIFE | True West
In Chicago’s West Loop, where factories and meatpacking plants once stood cheek by jowl, a restaurant-abetted transformation has taken place. Over the past decade, Randolph Street and Fulton Market have exploded with of-the-moment eateries, and the people came… and stayed. “The restaurants came first,” explains Karen Ranquist, associate broker at KoenigRubloff Realty Group, “but [the neighborhood] was missing the green space, the dog parks, the grocery stores… and now they’re all here.” Techie 20-somethings are flocking to be near their demanding (but oh-so-lucrative) jobs at Google’s new 200,000-square-foot Fulton Market headquarters and just steps away from some of Chicago’s newest and hottest restaurants: gorgeous modern meatery Swift & Sons and happening raw seafood bar Cold Storage; Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard’s Duck Duck Goat; and ubercelebrity-chef Rick Bayless’ long-awaited brewery and taqueria Cruz Blanca. Today’s apartment-dwellers are tomorrow’s condo buyers, a fact not lost on the Belgravia Group’s vice president of sales and marketing, Liz Brooks. “We’re seeing the buyer who has already lived in the [high-amenity] rental community,” she says. “Now they want the square footage in their living area instead.” Belgravia’s found its niche with three-bedroom units boasting fabulous finishes and outdoor elements. Looking for the hottest neighborhood in Chicago? Head for the sunset.
Sawada Coffee: Brendan Sodikoff (Hogsalt Hospitality) has partnered with latte art world champion Hiroshi Sawada to open this temple to caffeine—and matcha. 112 N. Green St., 312.754.0431
Primitive: This four-story showroom is no mere furniture store. You’ll also find textiles, prints, decor and fashion from around the world. It’s Chicago’s answer to NYC’s famed ABC Carpet & Home. 130 N. Jefferson St., 312.575.9600
Skinner Park: Families love Skinner Park, 7.32 acres of green space in the middle of the West Loop with a new playground and climbable sculpture from the Chicago Public Art Group. 1331 W. Monroe St., 312.746.5560
These are the high-end buildings about to hit the market—each boasting in-house resident perks galore.
1. 101 North
This 10-story condo building at the intersection of the Gold Coast, Lincoln Park and Old Town will offer three- and four-bedroom units each with private elevator access. To make sure all the finishes are just so, each owner gets 12 hours of consultation with SH Studio by Soucie Horner. $1.89-$3.04 million, 101 North Ave.
2. Marquee at Block 37
Poised above the destination shopping at Block 37, this 38-story contemporary building features multiple outdoor spaces including a State Street terrace, Daley Plaza terrace and Spa terrace on the 38th floor. Three-bedroom apartments $7,637-$7,987, 25 W. Randolph St.
The new contemporary glass building at the corner of Michigan and Lake offers residents some unexpected perks, like a secure package room with refrigerator and freezer for food deliveries, or, even better, 24/7 room service. Two-bedroom apartments $3,598-$4,528, 201 N. Garland Court
4. No. 9 Walton
This Gold Coast building will have 66 condos with a range of floor plans, including duplexes. The amenities include private wine storage and two guest suites for overnight visitors. $2-$13 million, with the penthouse at $24.2 million, 9 W. Walton St.
5. The Parker Fulton Market
High-tech touches like smartphone-integrated cardio equipment in the gym, Nest thermostats and Tesla charging stations in the garage abound at this new building. Three-bedroom apartments $4,695-$5,150, 730 W. Couch Place
For more on Chicago's real estate scene, check out the feature in the digital edition here.