Price: $675,000

In his short skyrocketing career, the late developer Bruce Abrams left a legacy of exemplary, fine-tuned condo conversions of vintage office and industrial structures in transitioning parts of town. One such project is a linchpin of the luxury district, now pocked with towers, that the west end of River North came to be: Ontario Street Lofts at 411 West Ontario. Developed in 1994-1995, Abrams made a confident decision to supply a basic package of unit finishes with options for custom upgrades and build-outs (a nearby predecessor, 420 West Grand, was built with uniform high-end developer finishes). This way you could get into the building simply and for a reasonable price or elect to spend.

“This is probably the most unique building in this part of River North,” says Baird & Warner listing agent Barbara Sapstein, “There are 29 different floor plans (repeated on each of the seven floors), and 20 custom homes where buyers brought in the their own architect, sometimes stitching together two or three units.” Sapstein’s charge, a 7th floor penthouse newly listed for $675,000, was one of the top floor spaces that came with an invitation to duplex up without incurring additional assessment.

The seller, an interior designer by trade, reshaped his unit into an in-town living space, keeping two bedrooms but reorganizing them to allow for a larger free-flowing living space. A second bedroom near the entrance was removed and the rear master suite pressed into service as a lounge. Sleeping is relegated to the two bedrooms on the second floor, accessed via open spiral staircase through a cut in the concrete ceiling. A neighboring rectangular cut creates a much-needed skylight at the portion of the living area furthest from windows. 

The living spaces are seductive, the bedrooms and baths are comfy and straight forward, and the kitchen is serviceable developer stock—the kind of thing you could make do with for another decade. The extraordinary aspect of this loft is its double-decker private rooftop terrace. The first deck is directly attached to the master bedroom and faces east and south; the second deck is up another flight of spiral stairs and claims the absolute roof, above the master suite addition. 

Price Points: The seller’s primary residence is in Northwest Indiana and he’s shedding the in-town in order to take over the family construction business. His $375,000 purchase price in 2000 is too distant to guide today’s pricing: expensive improvements and neighborhood gains are the real considerations. Assessments are low for the level of service. The damage is $536 a month, which includes 24-hour door staff, a remodeled fitness room, common roof deck, and heated garage parking. There are a few units for sale in the building right now: a 1,200-square-foot one-bed for $400,000 and four slightly larger two-beds for $429,000 to $439,000.