A $1.925 million high-floor condo has listed at the newly residential Metropolitan Tower at 310 South Michigan Avenue. The big deal with this property? A killer private terrace in the shadow of the building’s “beehive”—a 20-foot roof ornament that tops a 40-foot pyramid.
“I think this is one of the most unique apartments available right now in downtown Chicago,” says listing agent Lissa Weinstein of RE/MAX Premier Properties. “There are a lot of places available at a similar price point that are new construction, cookie cutter, and around 2,300-2,500 square feet.” A whole bunch of those are at 60 East Monroe, and one can drive further into the clouds there or in any number of towers like Aqua, 130 North Garland Court, or 450 East Waterside Drive.
“This square footage is asking around $1.699 million in The Loop, but they don’t look like this,” says Weinstein. “To me it’s very architectural; you walk in to a dramatic space with tall ceilings, peaking at 16 feet, and skylights coming up, and then there’s this wall of windows to a 45-foot terrace.”
A sampling of for-sale and sold comps in the last year confirms that it's an unusual amenity, but beyond that, the finishes don't have much personality. It makes sense—the sellers keep their primary residence in Michigan and have barely touched this plus-sized pied-a-terre in five years of ownership.
There's certainly a lot of potential. Superfluous drywall creates a slender entryway and crowds an otherwise refined kitchen. Musing on possibilities for livening up the heart of the condo, Weinstein suggests tearing out the half wall between front door and kitchen to open direct views from the entrance to the living and dining rooms and the skyline beyond. And it might not hurt to re-clad the structural columns in something other than drywall.
The floor plan has two bedrooms on either end of the big central living area, giving them shares of the north-facing window wall. They don't have direct access to the terrace—but you could fix that with a sliding door. The third bedroom gets a little lost in the sauce with its narrow band of windows, no views, and boxy demeanor, though it does have its own bath.
This condo certainly has a leg up on many units at Metropolitan Tower: “Most of the [developer finishes] in lower units in this building are horrible… they’re ugly,” says Weinstein. It took four years to begin move-ins following developer Louis D’Angelo’s 2004 condo conversion announcement, and re-sale woes followed with a string of uncommonly bad loses and a growing inventory of distressed units through the recession.
Differences between lower floor condos and the far pricier tower units begin with a separate keyed access elevator bay that serves “tower” floors. Balconies arrive on the upper stories (built by investment banking firm S. W. Straus & Company in 1924, it’s no surprise the façade is mostly sheer), and then only sporadically. Except for the numerous small balconies at the true two-story penthouse and the great terraces of duplexed units on the 24th and 25th, the few three-bed units on the 22nd floor have the best private outdoor space.
Views from this high in the tower are unobstructed, thanks to the historic Michigan Avenue streetwall and the great nothingness of Lake Michigan. This particular unit has full north and partial east and west views.
There are still enormous raw spaces available in the upper tower. We'll see what price the market will bear—but the larger space, at 3,500 square feet and with 18-foot ceilings, is currently listed at $2.6 million.
Update: the price of the raw 26th-floor unit, reflecting a mid-April reduction, is now $2.3 million. It is also being offered with the full, raw 27th floor for a combined $3.3 million.
Price Points: By asking $425,000 more than they paid in July 2009, the sellers are betting that a stable luxury market will deliver. The price may be less of an obstacle than the assessment—at $1,372 a month, it covers heat, air conditioning, water, door staff, and a selection of standard multi-unit amenities like a gym, party room, and common roof deck. And if the next owner plans on actually living in the space, there better be a budget for a renovation.