Lakeshore East in downtown Chicago
Situated downtown, Lakeshore East (above, in a photo from 2006) is a new community created over the last decade.


Average condo price: $484,169
Transportation * * * * (out of 4) Lake Shore Drive and the expressways, as well as options for CTA buses and trains, are all nearby.
Schools * * A planned grade school has yet to materialize; Jones College Prep High School, an upper-tier school, is in the South Loop, one mile away.
Shopping * * The riches of Michigan Avenue aren’t far away, but groceries and other necessities could be closer.
Plus: All the city’s cultural highlights—art, music, theatre—and Millennium Park, too

Where rail yards, and later a golf course, once lay, a high-rise neighborhood has sprouted in the past decade, and it has quickly become a model of 21st-century urban life. Lakeshore East, the master-planned area just south of the Chicago River and west of Lake Shore Drive, counts among its distinctions the new Aqua tower—the 82-story Jeanne Gang–designed apartment-and-condo building that appears to be eroded from water running down its sides—direct access to the lakefront, and, immediately south of the neighborhood, a little place called Millennium Park.

At the center of it all is the large and well-outfitted (but almost unknown) Park at Lakeshore East, a green space that makes the whole project work, both aesthetically and practically. The lawns provide an attractive, open alternative to the dense thicket of new high-rises, and the park literally brings the neighborhood down to earth from the towering triple-decker roadways (Wacker, Columbus, Randolph, and Lake Shore drives) that surround it.

The views from the neighborhood can be spectacular—with the skyline, Lake Michigan, and the river all around, how could they not be?—but the sights within Lakeshore East can be dramatic, too. My favorite is the monumental curving staircase that rises three stories from the park up through a cutout roof to Aqua’s plaza.

While the focus at Lakeshore East is on high-rises, there is also a string of ground-level townhomes along the southeast rim of the park. For the time being, a retail development on the southwest side has stalled; a new grocery store is slated to open there next year. Shopping options—albeit pricey ones—exist nearby, with groceries available just north of the river at Dominick’s and Fox & Obel. You can find virtually anything else you might need on Michigan Avenue.

Dennis tours Lakeshore East with Rochelle Vayo Adkinson of WGN and CLTV’s HomesPlus.