Chicago is known for having some of the very best urban opportunities in the world—among the best colleges and schools, museums and libraries, as well as some of the finest parks, the most interesting architecture, the most intriguing mix of diverse people, and among the very best collection of historic sites in the nation. For residents, access to all that on a daily basis does not come cheap. Residential space in the Windy City is costly no matter what neighborhood you live in, and these days, sheer space—more than luxuries—has historically been the most sought-after item in an apartment.
However, it would seem those days are gone. While location and square footage are still essential aspects of a property’s attractiveness to a potential buyer, they are no longer the only major considerations. For several newer and established properties around town, a building’s amenities are becoming a drawing point in and of themselves.
Among the most luxurious co-op/condo amenities now provided to residents include simulated golf courses, private beaches, 24-hour juice bars, wine cellars, grocery delivery coolers, in-house dog grooming services, yoga studios, media/screening rooms, video arcades for kids, craft rooms, and bowling alleys. Some of these items are becoming passé, while others now are unwritten requirements of a building’s amenities package. But more often these days, that amenities package amounts mostly to the facilities provided in a building, such as a gym, sauna, swimming pool, and a massage room. In those areas, it seems that buyers believe bigger may well be better.
Some of the most luxurious special amenities that Chicago condo properties are offering today include hundreds of thousands of square feet of space dedicated to resort-style recreational offerings. Residents (including former Chicago Cubs power hitter Sammy Sosa) of the 70-floor, 758-unit Lake Point Tower at 505 North Lake Shore Drive in Streeterville can relax in their very own, private 2.5 acre wooded park on the third floor that features a pool and a lagoon. When a blizzard grips the city (think of the whiteout of 2011) unit owners can head to the indoor pool and do a few laps, soak in a hot tub, play a game of racquetball or have their teeth cleaned without putting on a parka to go outside. If residents aren’t in the mood to cook, the deluxe condo is home to three restaurants ranging from Cite', an upscale eatery with white tablecloths and 360 degree city views, to a more casual cafe, to a late-night restaurant bar that caters to the night-owl crowd. With a children’s playground, Skyline Park, squash court, yoga room, billiard room, a full gym, sauna and steam room and more, the building has admittedly set the amenity bar high.
“Our residents are paying a certain amount of money, and they want and deserve the best, so we have to keep reinventing ourselves to stay on top,” says Joshua Feldman, assistant manager of accounting and information technology for Lake Point Tower. “We are in the process of renovating our weight room. We put it in in the late ’90s, but that just won’t do—you have to stay current.”