View from the top

Developer: no building in city offers as many stunning views
474 North Lake Shore For almost 15 years, the tenants at 474 N. Lake Shore Drive have been enjoying perhaps the best views of any residential building in Chicago. That’s according to a partnership that plans to make this perk permanent for at least 505 buyers as the 61-story tower converts to condominium ownership.

Asked what is most unique about the building, Herb Emmerman, a partner in the development company, doesn’t hesitate. “It’s the 360-degree wraparound view from top to bottom,” Emmerman says. “There are other buildings with great views, but I can’t think of one that affords such a terrific view to every single resident.”

Emmerman’s point is well taken. While most downtown highrises afford some or even many terrific views, most also have plenty of low units that sport lovely vistas of dumpsters or alleys or brick walls rising an arm’s length from condo windows. But when 474 N. Lake Shore was built as luxury apartments in 1990, the developers had that rarest of Chicago gems, a downtown site with built-in view protection. To the east is the lake and to the south a channel that feeds into Lake Michigan, with the river beyond it. To the west is the low-rise North Pier building, and there is enough breathing room to the north to provide stunning views of the skyline and lake along North Lake Shore Drive.

“Obviously, the views and locations have played a big part in our initial marketing success,” says sales director Catherine Hughey. “The building is right across from Nayy Pier and right in the middle of everything.”

Or perhaps more accurately, on the edge of everything. The shops and restaurants of the Magnificent Mile are only a few blocks away, but 474 N. Lake Shore is just far enough for residents to avoid the crowded sidewalks of Michigan Avenue when they’re not in the mood – and to hop on the Drive immediately when they’re in a rush. The Loop is a stone’s throw away, but because the project sits on the north side of the river, it’s in a more residential location than some other current developments. And many of the city’s most popular cultural attractions – Navy Pier, the downtown theater district, Millennium Park and more – are a short walk away.

But if buyers don’t want to leave the immediate neighborhood, there’s no need to. Neighboring restaurants include Riva, PJ Clarke’s and Dick’s Last Restort. Homeowners can shop at Fox & Obel, a gourmet food & wine shop next door, and a 21-screen AMC movie theater is two blocks away.

The conversion offers three levels of units, the Shoreline Homes, on floors 17 to 38; the Skyline Homes, on floors 39 to 57; and the Penthouse Homes, on the top four floors. The condos range from studios and convertibles with one bathroom and 642 square feet to three-bedroom three-bath penthouses of more than 2,000 square feet.

“The living area of most units is L-shaped, rather than one open space, and this appeals to a lot of people,” Hughey says. “Also, believe it or not, the windows have window seats, and I personally think that because the views are so great, the seats are a big plus.”

The variety of units at 474 N. Lake Shore is matched by the variety of packages buyers can purchase. The “standard package” is reflected in the prices advertised for units and includes a high-level rehab. “The standard package is designed to make the residence brand new,” Emmerman says. “We intend to do a complete ‘re-amenitization,’ if that’s a word.”

The standard package includes walk-in closets (except in studios), hardwood floors in living areas, washer and dryer hookups, operable double-glazed Hopper windows, granite kitchen countertops, Ultracraft cabinets with a choice of finishes, GE appliances, stainless steel kitchen sinks with Moen faucets, ceramic tile baths, cultured marble vanity tops with Moen faucets and Ultracraft vanities. Standard units are priced from the $230s for studios, from the $440s for two-bedrooms, and from the $620s for three-bedrooms.

The “rental ready” plan includes cleaning, painting, repair and replacement where necessary, and is offered at a discount off the standard purchase price. The self explanatory “as is” plan affords even a larger price reduction.

Building amenities include 24-hour door and maintenance staff, storage lockers, bicycle storage, high-speed Internet service, a River North Dry Cleaners, enclosed heated parking, and a private 1,200-square-foot party room with a working kitchen that opens onto a sundeck. One of the top amenities is a private state-of-the-art athletic club with an indoor lap pool, a steam room and sauna.

Parking is priced from $30,000 to $55,000, depending on location, and 10 boat slips are available for sale, though at press time, prices for these had not been finalized. The boat slips are accessible from a lower level and are located on a channel that runs south of the building, past Navy Pier and into Lake Michigan.

At press time, about 60 percent of the units had been sold. Delivery dates have not been finalized for the refurbished units, but a mass closing is expected to take place in November 2005.

A sales center for 474 N. Lake Shore,, is open on site.

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