It would have been impossible to predict just how big an impact Millennium Park would have on downtown real estate, much less Chicago’s world image, but Mesa Development Company had more than an inkling. The developer named its last condo tower, constructed behind the Chicago Cultural Center, for the park long before the city completed it, and The Heritage at Millennium Park proved an immediate sales success.
Now, Mesa is back with a second condo tower, a 72-story glass high-rise planned for 60 E. Monroe St., that borrows cachet and a name from Millennium Park. The Legacy at Millennium Park will be a long, narrow tower with park, lake and city views and 355 condos priced from the low $400s.
What has changed between the time that The Heritage hit the market in 2001 and the recent unveiling of The Legacy? According to a June story in The New York Times, the once sleepy office district around the park “has emerged as one of the city’s hottest residential neighborhoods.” A city study quoted by the Times concludes that Millennium Park is responsible for around $1.4 billion in residential development and for increasing real estate values in the area by $100 per square foot.
The Heritage was testing the waters, wisely it turns out, but nothing was guaranteed. The Legacy is riding a wave The Heritage helped create in what’s now one of the most coveted residential locations downtown.
“The acclaim of Millennium Park was instrumental to the success of The Heritage, and it created an over-demand that we were anxious to satisfy,” says James Hanson, a principal in Mesa Development. “So we put together this site along Jewelers Row, where we are taking the luxury that defined The Heritage to a new level.”
The site provided a rather small footprint, according to Gary Klompmaker, of Solomon Cordwell Buenz, the architect for the project, which made for interesting form.
“The developer looked to us to design the shape of the building, and we settled on a triangular design with the slender leading edge toward the lake,” Klompmaker says. “Not only does this add drama to the building, but it affords spectacular views as the building flares out, giving the units to the west an eastern exposure.”
And since the surrounding buildings are twelve or fewer stories, Hanson says, all Legacy units, which begin on the 15th floor, will have “penthouse views.”
“But there is much more,” Hanson adds. “The building has the look of a higher-end transitional structure. It’s not traditional, and it’s not ultra-modern. So you have a tall tower context like the Sears, but since it’s so slender, it softens the skyline and helps thin out the chunkier buildings in the area.”
The Legacy’s residential entrance is on Monroe Street, with the canopy and the front door actually located in the century-old Sharp Building, at the corner of Monroe Street and Wabash Avenue. The parking entrance and an entryway to Legacy’s 7,500 square feet of retail space are located around the corner, on Wabash.
The entry leads to a lobby with stone floors, wood paneling and leather walls that create a warm yet subtle look, according to Klompmaker. The lobby leads to four high-speed elevators, a freight elevator and a mailroom.
The second and third floors will be occupied by The School of the Art Institute, and a garage will take up the next nine floors, followed by two floors of amenities owned and operated by the adjacent University Club of Chicago – a perk for Legacy homeowners.
Residents will have access to the University Club facilities on these floors – squash courts, a fitness center with a lap pool and a Whirlpool. Other University Club amenities also will available to Legacy residents, who will have access to the facilities in the neighboring building through a “sky-bridge.”
Amenities at the Legacy include a bicycle room, individual storage lockers, a sundeck with a landscaped outdoor terrace, a 24-hour doorman, a concierge and a receiving room with a valet cleaning service. Two of the tower’s more unusual perks are sky garden lounges with adjoining hospitality rooms on the 42nd and 60th floors, one an indoor-outdoor conservatory and the other more of a club, with a large kitchen for parties and meetings.
Prices range from the low $400s for a one-bedroom of 929 square feet to $8.6 million for the 9,300-square-foot top-floor penthouse.Â Two-bedroom units start at $559,900, three-bedrooms begin at $1.09 million and four-bedrooms start at $2.29 million. Parking costs $45,000 to $60,000.
Features include nine-foot ceiling heights in most living areas, floor-to-ceiling windows, multimedia wiring, hardwood floors in kitchens and living areas, carpeted bedrooms, washer and dryer hookups, terraces, granite countertops, soaking tubs, separate frameless glass showers, Kohler fixtures and Grohe faucets.
At press time, 60 percent of the units were sold, according to Andy Warner, vice president of marketing at Equity Marketing Services, the exclusive sales agent for the Legacy.
“We have been targeting three distinct markets,” says Warner, empty nesters, move-up buyers and people looking for in-towns. He is convinced that The Legacy’s main attraction is its views, although he points to other factors too. “The curtain-wall construction literally provides glass exterior walls,” Warner says. “And some of the other big selling points are the sky lobbies and the shape of the building, since it gives the residences some unique floor plans.”
Closings are scheduled to begin in fall 2009, and the developer anticipates completing the building by spring 2010.