An unfinished condo on the Hancock's 92nd floor, and a finished condo on the Hancock's 91st floor

[1] LIST
$959,000 (92nd floor)
[2] LIST $1.20 MILLION (91st floor)

Two condos for sale on the uppermost residential floors of the John Hancock Center have a lot in common, including their size—about 1,740 square feet—and their breathtaking views, unobstructed by the building’s distinctive diagonal bracing, which can block the sightlines from some lower-floor units.

Where these two condos differ is in their readiness. The condo on the 92nd floor—the highest residential floor in the United States—is raw space that needs to be finished before it’s livable. The unit directly below is ready for immediate occupancy. “You have the choice of doing it yourself or moving right in,” says Pat Cohen, the Baird & Warner broker who is representing both condos. “People could do their comparisons and decide which way to go.”

Though owned by separate sellers, the condos went on the market on the same day in August. Elizabeth Kay, a retired physical therapy professor who taught at Northern Illinois University, has owned the 91st-floor unit since 2005. It originally had three bedrooms, but she has reconfigured it as a two-bedroom home. It has maple floors, a recently renovated kitchen, and a humidifier heat system superior to the Hancock’s original electric heat. “The night view from up here is just smashing,” Kay adds.

One flight up is a space that Darlene Mooney, a Hancock resident, bought in 2007 in its almost original condition—the building opened in 1969—for an amount not shown at the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. Cohen says that Mooney gutted the place for renovation but later opted to sell rather than finish it. All the asbestos has been removed, the ceilings have been raised by a foot (to 14 feet), and, Cohen notes, the buyer “won’t pay those high Dumpster fees” for hauling out all the demolition refuse.

It’s difficult to estimate what a buyer would have to spend to fix up the condo. The standard estimate of $200 per square foot would put a complete overhaul at $348,000. But with the initial demolition done, it would probably cost less.

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Photography: Dennis Rodkin