Price: $12.9 million

The duplex penthouse at 415 E. North Water Street, two buildings in from the Spire site, is heading to open market next week with a $12.9 million price tag. I squeezed in a visit yesterday, eager to see a built-out and lived-in condo in this price range (some are raw developer spaces, and the press is barred from others). The unit occupies 9,300 square feet in a portion of the building that bows out toward the river to hog views, and, wisely, the home is designed to wow and entertain.

There’s an unmatched aesthetic here, and if you don’t like it you’ll be carting off many tons of obscure marble and onyx—all of it sourced from Italy at a cost of more than $1 million. The orange sherbets and baby blues covering wall and floor look completely artificial but it turns out they’re real colors found in nature. Backlit onyx baseboards add to the surrealism. To top it off, the owner, an investor who asked not to be named, bought a child-sized chunk of blue marble at auction. He intended it as desktop ornament, but this thing weighed so much it had to stay close to the ground on its own reinforced platform. It makes a good pairing with the $1 million glass and granite staircase.

The stairs cut through to what had been part of the building’s mechanical level and is now a 25-foot-ceilinged play space. This is how the unit is conceived: living spaces on the first level and entertainment above. Entertainment here means a regulation squash court with dark stained oak and maple modeled after the court featured in The Game; full basketball court; steam room; a huge hot tub with pop-up TV; and 67 feet of wraparound 33rd floor balcony. 

The property has five balconies in total, a couple of them attached to bedrooms on the main level. There are three bedrooms with an option for a fourth, and the master suite, of course, has an all-marble bathroom with heated floors and a walk-in closet with Myrtle Burl Veneer shelving. On the walk out of the master toward the kitchen and living areas, you pass the first of three 500-gallon saltwater aquariums stocked with live coral and tropical fish (the other two are on full display at the foot of the stairs). Other extras include a smart home system governing lights, surround sound, TVs, blinds, and security, and a high-speed internet connection. All you really need to know is this place’s look, views, and spoils were enough to attract Chicago PD and Empire film shoots.

Price Points: There is more activity in the $10 million+ price range in Chicago than in several years, and condos are taking the lead. Beyond the well-publicized $17 million Trump Tower penthouse sale and Vince Vaughn’s newly-discounted $13.9 million Palmolive triplex, there are two MLS-listed penthouses asking the same as the featured unit: a classically-appointed 7,662-square-foot perch at 189 E. Lake Shore Drive with 3,000 square feet of private terrace; and the unfinished duplex atop Lincoln Park 2550—a 12,500-square-foot blank canvas demanding untold millions in additional build-out expense. Also, the last full-floor penthouse is available at the Ritz-Carlton Residences—6,600 square feet of raw space for $11.2 million. All are fairly new to the market.

Today's seller paid $5.3 million for raw developer space in 2008 and spent more than two years designing it. Phil Skowron and Eugene Fu and of @properties will carry the listing and Skowron tells me there have been a few interested parties in the home’s brief time as a private pocket listing. There haven’t been any offers, but one buyer is returning for a second viewing. Skowron is generally seeing more local buyers than people might expect at the top of the market. It’s not all global, not yet.