There are loads of showy condos at the John Hancock Center. Some have hangovers of 1970s and ‘80s excess (see here and here)—all glammed-up and nowhere to go. Other units are plain, and still others are intensely seductive. This is what happens when a single iconic building offers a dramatic range in unit size and price to 700 homeowners.
On the 75th floor, a southeast corner unit—a combination of three units, in fact—caught my eye last week as an enormous high-floor space in fine condition with very little inherited décor. The late owner, who will remain anonymous on request of the family, kept her 4,100 square foot dwelling minimally decorated so it could display art. She was one of the original owners going back to the early 1970s, and, according to listing agent Marie Campbell of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff, had quite a diverse collection, from pre-Columbian native art to 1960s neo-realism.
Hancock spaces are hard to get right in part because of the exterior X-bracing, an engineering innovation that adds sculptural expression but also throws some rooms off balance and chops up views. But, at least, putting the structural bracing on the outer walls permits fluid interiors.
The new buyer will almost certainly want to take advantage of this fluidity and reshape the condo for conventional family-oriented use. This could mean narrowing the three kitchens down to one; unifying the flooring which, at present, comes in parquet hardwood, and blue, red, and green carpet; and changing the circulation to soften the divide between the three formerly separate units. Suggested plans for the space with such a setup in mind have been drawn up and are available through the brokerage. It’s okay to cheat a little.
The unit’s best feature doesn't need to be reconfigured—that's the L-shaped 900-square-foot living room, which rolls off the entryway in grand fashion. It has broad north and east views from a vantage higher than anything in a mile radius. Window sills provide wraparound built-in seating, and the X-bracing is neatly contained in the corner—more of a quirk than a nuisance. This tier of the Hancock Center has 9.5-foot ceilings, a foot taller than the building’s norm. This helps make the skyline views even more immersive. Sights include most of downtown and the lakefront between Oak Street Beach and Navy Pier.
The living room, dining room, master suite, and office form the central portion of the unit. At one end, you reach the former maid’s quarters—a sizable unit in its own right, with a large bedroom, full bath, kitchen, and living area (used by the late owner for art storage). At the condo’s other end, you’ll find another small kitchen, full bath, storage space, and a surprisingly large family room. It’s easy to imagine sticking the master suite at this end given its seclusion.
The main kitchen is a handsome little cove parceled off from the dining room, and it's fairly recently updated. As for the baths, there are five full ones and an unusual twin his and her master bath setup, each clad in marble and nearly identical. Another bathroom has curtain walls that disguise the tub and shower so as to function as a powder room.
Price Points: The estate is asking $1.3 million. The asking price breaks down to only $316/square foot. Monthly assessments seem blistering, at $3,299, until you look at Streeterville comps. Buildings like Palmolive, Water Tower Place, and Olympia Center have higher prices and assessments per square foot. Including Hancock, these are full amenity addresses with a lot of maintenance.