Amenities come and go. In some places like New York and Miami though they can make or break a condo’s marketability, but in Chicago at least, it’s still a matter of the three cardinal rules of real estate, “location, location, location,” according to Gail Lissner, a vice president of Appraisal Research Counselors in Chicago. Buyers of new condominium units as well as existing residents look toward “location and view as their top amenities followed by in-unit amenities, especially ceiling height, unit condition and then common area amenities.”
Chicago boasts approximately 120,000 housing units in its urban core. Approximately 80,000 of these units are condos including approximately 1,000 co-op units located predominantly in older prewar buildings. The balance of these 120,000 units, approximately 40,000 units, are rentals. Interestingly enough the “amenities war,” as Lissner terms it, is much more prevalent in the rental market than in the ownership market.
According to Chicagobusiness.com, there have been approximately 4,700 new rental units built in 2014-2015 as compared to 381 condo and townhome units for the same period. The market was overwhelmed by approximately 6,000 units backlogged from the boom years before the recession. That margin reduced to approximately 380 by mid-2014. On the bright side developers have announced approximately 1,700 for-sale units to be built this year.
Outdoor Space Most Sought After Amenity
With that said what amenity package are residents seeking? According to Lissner, the packages differ from rental to condo buildings. Luxury rental buildings, which tend to see a younger resident also tend to have smaller units, mostly one bedrooms and studios. These residents, who tend to be single and childless, seek amenities that make the building more of a community, like state-of-the-art gyms with yoga spaces and private training rooms, community club or party rooms and in- building convenience commercial spaces such as food markets and dry cleaners.
In condo buildings, on the other hand, the most sought after amenity is outdoor space. While most condo buildings have fitness centers-if they don’t they generally look to carve out some space for one-pools are high on the list for both residents and buyers. Often the outdoor space, which may include a pool, sits atop the building’s parking facility or on its roof.