I've seen the following observations made by buyers who I've shown places to in the building. Keep in mind some of these are subjective to where some may consider them bad, while it may not make a difference to others:
1. No in-unit washer / dryers
2. No dogs allowed (cats only)
3. Parking is rental - not deeded
4. Given that these buildings are in a fairly dense area of Streeterville, if you're not on a high enough floor and have a west exposure, you will be surrounded by buildings and not get great light.
Again, you'd probably run into several of these issues in other buildings in Streeterville as well (and I think many of these items are reflected in the lower asking prices of units in the building compared to new constructions - 600 Fairbanks, ParkView, 240 Illinois), but these are just what some of my clients have expressed to me as we have looked at properties in the neiborhood. Other than that, I actually think the buildings are very well managed compared to other Mies van der Rohe buildings in the Chicago area - great reserves / finances, reasonable assessments, etc..
Founder / Broker Associate
As a previous poster has mentioned, never a special assessment and great reserves. Relatively modest property taxes. There has been a recent modernization of the elevators, and it is now possible to have a washer/dryer in combined units. The windows CAN be double-glazed.
The exterior, dark-tinted glass curtain walls have proven less costly to maintain, than traditional masonry structures that require frequent and costly tuck-pointing. The buildings donâ€™t have unsightly balconies that require constant maintenance in this extreme climate.
The buildings have never had a special assessment. Architects oversee the board decisions, and all projects are budgeted in advance. The towers have experienced recent upgrades of the elevator mechanics and fire safety system. Plus, the buildings house updated central cooling and heating systems featuring a digital thermostat for electronically controlled â€œzonesâ€. The buildingâ€™s water risers have been mostly replaced with new. The combine units allow for washers/dryers. A large parking garage is hidden in the basement.
The lake and city views from 900-910 Lake Shore are wonderful. The 900-910 towers occupy a single block of expansive lawn and trees, a rarity in downtown Chicago. The Esplanade, a private raised platform overlooking beautiful Lake Michigan, is furnished for relaxing.
The interior hallways have a uniform look, without influence of unit ownerâ€™s individual tastes that can be offensive to others.
900-910 North Lake Shore Drive, originally the Esplanade Apartments now condominiums, are one of the most architecturally refined and well-built buildings in Chicago, maybe the world. The world famous modernist architect, Mies van der Rohe, designed the buildings.
The 910 lobby is a modernist masterpiece of marble floors and walls with a backdrop of beautiful draperies combined with the iconic Mies van der Rohe designed Barcelona chairs (originally designed for the 1929 Barcelona Worlds Fair as the thrones for the King and Queen of Spain), Mies daybed, and Barcelona coffee table. The lobby displays a bronze sculpture by noted artist Virginio Ferrari and the front lawn has a huge sculpture by internationally recognized artist, Richard Hunt.
New York City has many wonders, but there are no Mies von der Rohe designed residence buildings, like in Chicago. New York yearns to have a building with the modernist history of 900-910 North Lake Shore. Brochures are available on the history of the Esplanade Apartments in the Architecture Center on South Michigan Ave. and are noted as the first glass curtain wall building in the world.
Quite a few world famous architects live in the buildings. There are many combined units that have washer/dryers. There are few buildings on the drive that afford such fabulous views in an architecturally
significant building. I have been a guest in many units, several over 3,000 square feet that are stunning. Metropolitan Home did a spread on one of these units.
There are NO dogs allowed. There are NO washer dryers in a single unit (only in combined units, of which there are many) The garage allows outside parkers.
I was told by some building mgmt people at the building that they cannot be upgraded to double-paned or thermally glazed windows because the spandrels that support the windows can't support the extra weight they would impose.
Location, location, location is the realtorâ€™s mantra. 900/910 LSD has all the offerings of Michigan Avenue and the Gold Coast, just outside your door. There is so much within walking distance. Which means you can run outside for more than just a carton of milk and a loaf of bread.
The two towers sit in the center of a single block surrounded by picturesque, expansive lawn and trees. This affords all the units beautiful, unobstructed outdoor views with plenty of natural light streaming through the all glass exterior walls. All the views are pleasant, if not downright fabulous. Remember, this is right on gorgeous Lake Michigan. Urban spaces can victims of unsightly brick walls, alleys, fire escapes, etc. and this never happens at 900/910.
The original units have wonderful floor plans. The living room and bedrooms are on the all glass exterior wall. The kitchen and bathrooms are away from the windows. The hallways are kept to a minimum, no long hallways wasting space, as Iâ€™ve often seen in new construction. There is a sense of space and openness.
The units update very well, as is the case with the windows. â€œAdd-On-Glassâ€ can double pane all the windows, with the addition of another pane to the existing pane. This makes the units quieter and more energy efficient.
As for balconies, there is no need here, since you have a glass wall to the outdoors. Think â€œgreenâ€ house here. Nature is enjoyed from the comfort of your unit, no exposure to winds or the elements.
The buildings have been standing for over 50 years with proper maintenance and sound financials. How many new constructions will be able to say that in the next fifty years?
Yes, a famous architect, Mies van der Rohe, designed the buildings, but that name may mean little to todayâ€™s buyer. What should have meaning are the buildingâ€™s sound architecture, construction and engineering. Thereâ€™s a reason for the architectâ€™s fame. Itâ€™s not just a â€œdesigner labelâ€.
Note well other remarks concerning the absence of "costly balconies"; those sound like a used-car guy's way of saying that his cars lack "costly tires". These buildings are naked and lack the best amenitiy there is for any lakefront highrise--balconies--with a chance to relax outdoors over the lake, to barbeque and such. Note also another big minus: no swimming pool and no sun deck. There once was one, but NE'ly of the buidlings which (hello!) were masked from the sun thanks to the so-called genius, "Mies". The owners plowed it under years ago as even they saw that he goofed big-time. The near-useless patio which remains is still shaded, directly on the Drive and noisy as hell. And, how about the long outdated, free-style apartment configurations? Many residents have put their closets, yes their closets, up against their "stylish" outside windows, so neighbors can be shown all their duds and select them each day. Not pretty.
So, don't just buy a condo just because of a long-dead architect's reputation 60 or so years ago; buy one which actually offers you something. These buildings do not.
Well constructed masonry buildings do not require frequent tuckpointing. In reality, re-pointing of a quality brick structure should only need to be performed every few decades.
Also, a properly built,pressure treated wood rear porch system does require bi-annual application of water repellent but there is no free lunch after all. If you want outdoor space then you will face some maintenance issues.
I'm not impressed by the fact that they were designed by Mr. Van der Rohe. A building should stand or fall on it's own merits and does not rest on the vicariously applied laurels of it's designer. An 'pro hominem' honor means little if the building is outdated or uncomfortable.
The lack of a special assessment is likewise neither good or bad. If the monthly assessments are high then you're just paying for high maintenance needs on the front end instead of the back end.
Perhaps my tastes are plebian and prosaic but the sculptures would mean little to me if I were looking to purchase a Gold Coast condominium.
I didn't mean to trash the Mies buildings. They may be a great fit for some buyers. Their provenance is undeniable. They're not for everyone but then no building is. As they say, "A Chacun son Gout!"