Dakota combines condo luxury and loft aesthetics

A parcel like the one in the 3600 block of North Halsted doesn’t come along every day, or every year, for that matter. So when Tom Drake, of the Drake Group, nabbed 25,000 square feet of prime land on one of Lakeview’s most prominent streets, he knew that whatever he built there would have to make a statement.
“It was a great infill site in the heart of Lakeview, which is really hard to find,” Drake says. “It had proximity to Wrigley Field, the el and the lake, as well as all the amenities around Lakeview. It was pretty easy to visualize what could be there.”
What is there now is the Dakota, a 56-unit building, at 3631 N. Halsted, constructed with condo luxury and loft aesthetics in mind. The design, by architects Hartshorne & Plunkard, seems fairly traditional from the outside, with a dramatic entrance, brick, limestone and other high-end materials. But even on the exterior there are hints that these condos are different – the large balconies and massive private terraces, the oversized windows and most of all, the scale of each of the six floors.
“It’s kind of a fusion of a couple different concepts,” says Drake, who is co-developing the project with Greif Properties. “When we were developing it conceptually, we had the name in mind and the style and it all seemed to fit – the openness of the West, the Mission style and the high standard of living that has made the Dakota in New York so successful.”
In keeping with the loft look, the condos have ceilings of more than 12 feet, 8.5-foot windows, polished concrete floors, some partial-height walls and open floor plans. Drake emphasizes that the floor plans and square footage in brochures or on the project’s Web site, www.thedakotachicago.com, don’t do the units justice because their high ceilings create such a feeling of volume.

“It was expensive to build with these high ceilings because it’s not only 30 percent more concrete, it’s 30 percent more plumbing runs, drywall, paint, everything, but it’s worth it,” Drake says. “We wanted to create something visible and a quality product. This type of product does not exist in this neighborhood – if at all.”
But while Drake and partner Gregory Greif didn’t want to recreate a typical condo, they didn’t want to build a typical loft either.
“We wanted a luxury condo with loft-like features,” Drake says. “These are different than lofts in the South Loop and West Loop. We’ve built more luxurious units that have some of the benefits of lofts.”
The level of standard finishes is much higher at the Dakota, Drake says, than in the roughhewn spaces often sold as lofts. They have finished drywall ceilings, 42-inch maple or cherry cabinets, granite counters, balconies, fireplaces, marble master baths, Kohler fixtures and track lighting.
Buyers, who might have to imagine these features at other developments, can experience them at the Dakota in a newly furnished model unit by ATM Design. And depending on how quickly they choose their own final finishes, buyers can be moved into their condos in 30 to 45 days, according to Drake.
“We’ve seen a big increase in traffic because people have seen the model, and they know we have a short delivery time,” Drake says. “The fact that we offer immediate occupancy, and there’s not another project in the neighborhood at this stage right now, has been a big help.”
At press time, more than half of the 56 units in the mid-rise condo building had been sold. The homes range from the $190s for a one-bedroom to $519,900 for the largest penthouse. Two bedrooms, which have 1.5 or two baths, are priced from the $290s to the $360s. Parking spots are $28,500.
Some of the most stunning units are the two-story penthouses, which have large outdoor terraces and breathtaking atriums that rise up to 22 feet. In some spots, nearly this entire span is covered by continuous window, flooding the condo with light.

The views from those oversized windows and the balconies have been another draw, according to Drake.

“The views are very good,” Drake says. “You can see into the stands at Wrigley Field from the Dakota. You can’t quite see the field, but you can see the W or L they raise after games.”

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