$5 million buys a lot of home in the Chicago area. Only a couple dozen properties in the past year have reached or surpassed that threshold, including this well-appointed co-op unit on Lake Shore Drive. This penthouse in the exclusive 199 East Lake Shore Drive is seeking $5.15 million, just one of a handful of vintage units in the area at that price point.

The 11-story Beaux Arts era building was designed by Benjamin Marshall, the noted Chicago architect whose credits also include the nearby Drake Hotel. It stands just steps away from Oak Street Beach and the Lake Michigan shoreline, meaning that the dramatic lakefront views will remain forever open, free, and clear. With only 13 residences, it’s no wonder the exclusive address has attracted some of the city’s most elite, such as media mogul Oprah Winfrey and builder John Buck (whose company purchased and renovated the building almost 20 years ago).

Owner Deirdre Nardi attests that the 4,200-square-foot unit for sale — with its tall ceiling, private elevator, and 1,000-square-foot outdoor terrace space — lives like a single family home.

“I’ve been here for twenty years,” Nardi says. “We’ve thrown a lot of parties — it’s perfect for entertaining.” She notes that the deck area, with its clear and up-close views of the Chicago lakefront, is a fair trade for not having a traditional backyard space.

Nardi says that she and her late husband, real estate investor and software developer Stephen Nardi, frequently hosted Air and Water Show gatherings and charitable dinner events for dozens of high-profile attendees, including the Daleys, Burkes, and members of Loyola University’s Council of Regents.

Agent Janet Owen says the kitchen has recently received a thorough updating with new high-end appliances and white cabinets. That's in addition to other key features and finishes, like the unit’s three fireplaces, custom staircase with brass handrails, and maple herringbone hardwood flooring.

“I only sell on Michigan Avenue, in the Gold Coast, and DePaul, and there just aren’t any units like this for sale,” Owen says. “It’s exciting for people who want a single-family-home feeling but then also have this huge outdoor space.”