Second-home buyers just wanna have fun

The Superior at LaSalle

When most people think of real estate investors, they’re likely to conjure up images of slick-haired, power-lunching alpha males in monogrammed French-cuff shirts and pinstripe suits, but these days real estate investors are closer to Kathleen and James Nolan than Donald Trump.

Kathleen, a 52-year-old interior decorator, and her husband James, an executive at Sara Lee, recently purchased their third home, a two-bedroom split-level condo on the 14th floor at The Superior at LaSalle, located at 150 W Superior St in River North. The Nolans’ primary residence, a four-bedroom single-family home in Barrington Hills, has become a hub for their four globetrotting kids – two of whom have returned home after moving away – and four grandkids. The condo that they own with a few other couples at Beaver Creek in Colorado is a time-share arrangement for when the ski bug bites. But their new Chicago condo, Kathleen says, is just for fun.

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“My husband and I kept thinking about getting a second home someplace warm and just couldn’t decide on where we wanted to be,” she says. “So we thought, since he hasn’t retired yet and our kids are all busy, why not do something in the city where we can see if we like that kind of living? Our son works for an advertising agency downtown, so he can stay when he’s working late nights, and we can go down on the weekends, and we can get some excitement in our lives.” 

Kathleen wanted to be close to the famed Magnificent Mile shopping scene, but having a pied-à-terre has allowed her to branch out. “I’m now discovering parts of the city that I haven’t known about,” she says.

Buying a new-construction condo in the city also gave her the opportunity to express different aspects of her personality. Her home in Barrington Hills is more traditional, with skirted couches and lots of patterns and trimmings, but she kept “clean, sleek lines” in the condo.

“I was more excited about doing this than anything I’ve done because it was for fun,” she says. “And every time I turn the key and go in, I just love it. I love looking out at the city lights. I like having a peace that I normally don’t have.”

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