$1 million-plus market for new condominiums thrives in Chicago

Whether you have a paltry $1 million to spend, or as much as $16 million, Chicago’s luxury condominium buyers have plenty to ogle these days.

If you hurry, you still can grab a posh residence in the mammoth 661-unit Trump International Hotel & Tower or at the elegant Ambassador, a development of 38 luxurious condominiums under construction within the walls of the renovated Ambassador West Hotel, 1300 N. State Parkway.

For new construction, try 50 E. Chestnut, a boutique 39-story highrise planned for 34 luxury condominiums on the southern edge of the Gold Coast, or the Lakeview, an “ultra-luxury” development in Lincoln Park planned for about 220 units in three high-rises and a group of “city mansions.”

Sales have boomed at Trump Tower Chicago, so it is no surprise that “the Donald” recently replaced office space with residential units, bringing the total to 461 luxury condos and 200 “pied-a-terre” hotel condominiums.

“No project in Chicago has ever reported contracted sales of more than 300 units in less than three months,” boasted Charles Reiss, senior vice president of the Trump Organization.

Trump Tower, www.trumpchica-go.com, now offers hotel condominium guestrooms and suites priced from $542,000 to $1.8 million. The residential condominiums are priced from $673,000 to more than $15 million.

Amenities at the 90-story Trump Tower, scheduled for ground breaking on the site of the Chicago Sun-Times building this summer, include designer European kitchens and baths and 10-foot floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the city, the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.

Designed in 1918 by the renowned architectural firm of Schmidt, Garden and Martin, the historic Ambassador may provide some more down-to-earth luxury housing choices, said developer Fernando Leal, managing partner of L3 Development.

The legendary Ambassador Hotel opened in 1924. Over its 78-year history it welcomed royalty, celebrities (including the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Ronald Reagan) and served as a backdrop to some of Hollywood’s most famous Golden Era movies, including North by Northwest starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint.

The newly renovated building, www.ambassadorsales.com, features many one-of-a-kind residences, ranging from a two-bedroom, 2.5-bath condominium with 2,031 square feet to a four-bedroom 4.5-bath duplex penthouse with media room, 5,913 square feet and a rooftop terrace.

“Condominium sales at the Ambassador have been strong,” Leal said. With nearly half of the residences already sold, including two $4 million penthouses, base prices currently range from $1.095 million to $4.73 million. All homes include at least one parking space, and penthouses include two spaces.

Construction now is well underway at the corner of State Parkway and Goethe Street, and the first residences are scheduled for completion in September of 2004, Leal said. A model condominium is on display at 66 E. Oak.

Nearby, at 50 E. Chestnut, sales got underway in mid-March for 34 deluxe residences in a 39-story new “boutique condominium building” one block west of Michigan Avenue’s “Magnificent Mile,” on the southern edge of the Gold Coast.

Jameson Development LLC is planning one luxury residence per floor, with approximately 3,550 to 3,905 square feet of posh living space and two outdoor terraces per unit. Pre-construction base prices at the project, www.50eastchestnut.com, range from $2.2 million to $2.9 million. Construction is expected to begin this summer with first deliveries anticipated in about 16 months.

“Since there are a limited number of units, 50 E. Chestnut will be a very intimate building where residents will have plenty of privacy, something that you don’t get in a sprawling highrise where there are 200 to 300 units,” said Charles Huzenis, president of Jameson Development.

The Lakeview, a posh new highrise and mansion development in Lincoln Park, is designed by architect Lucien LaGrange to be the city’s ultra-luxury boutique condominium development, with prices ranging from about $1 million up to $16 million for the largest penthouse.

Developer Nicholas S. Gouletas said that the Lakeview, planned for the three-acre former Columbus Hospital site, at 2520 N. Lakeview, is attracting top corporate executive buyers from the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park as well as wealthy empty nesters from the North Shore.

“About a third of the residences already have been sold during a very quiet sneak preview held in an unfinished sales center at the hospital,” Gouletas said.

Plans call for a maximum of 220 residences in three highrises ranging from 20 to 37 stories. Fourteen city mansions also are planned on Deming Place and St. James Place just west of Lakeview Avenue as part of the project.

Real estate columnist and media consultant Don DeBat has written about Chicago-area housing and mortgage markets since 1968. He is chief executive officer of DeBat Media, Inc., www.dondebat.net.

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