Anita, Home Buyer in Near North Side, Chi...

What is NOT good about 900/910 N. Lake Shore Drive bldgs.? Old, etc...

Asked by Anita, Near North Side, Chicago, IL Thu Jan 14, 2010

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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..

Vikas Wadhwa
Founder / Broker Associate
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 3, 2010
Fabulous buildings--huge reserve, never a special assessment since the buildings went condo. Three of the most famous architects in the city live there. A recent apt was in shelter magazine and another in Metropolitan Home. I got to view them in a recent architectural tour. Amazing, 4,000 sq ft apt with pure, unobstructed lake views. I have lived across the street for 27 years, and always thought this Mies building a landmark. The only other apartment I saw was a smaller unit. All had double paned windows done by "Add-On-Glass." All had washers & dryers. All had fabulous lake & city views much better than my views. There is a totally private outdoor space that overlooks the lake. Where does one find that on Lake Shore Drive? I am negotiating purchasing a unit in the 910 for my daughter. It has a stacked washer & dryer--all the windows are double paned, it has hardwood floors in all the rooms. the kitchen is small but there is a double sink & dishwasher. There are no dogs allowed. I would sell my place in a heartbeat & move across the street but I can't sell it for what I paid and my assessments (with a special assessment) are 4 times the 910.
5 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 8, 2011
I'm not sure why Growler has such a bone to pick with 900/910. I lived there for approximately 20 years with no complaints (only recently leaving to move to NYC). True, it does not have some of the so-called amenities - exercise room, swimming pool (contrary to what has been posted on this forum, there has NEVER been a pool) - that you find in some new construction mega-complexes. But that is the Mies style. The enormous outdoor esplanade is lovely and quiet, despite being on the LSD side of the building. The unobstructed views of the lake are a dream - it's like being on a cruise ship. There is also sun on at least half of the deck for a majority of the day.

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.
4 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 14, 2011
It’s difficult to compare 900-910 North Lake Shore Drive to other buildings in the neighborhood or even in Chicago. Often, residents have sold and moved out, only to return to these well maintained and designed buildings.

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 don’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 “zones”. The building’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 owner’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.
4 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 13, 2011
Not much is not good. The reserves for these buildings are the very high; there has never been a special assessment. The windows can indeed be double glazed and many owners have done so.
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.
4 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 7, 2010
Speaking as a neighbor living just down the street, these buildings are very old and outdated and often regarded as "low-rent" places by their better neighbors. The single-pane floor to ceiling windows are, indeed, a problem but also pose a bigger one--some of the residents are pretty primitive, live in cluttered dumps and either have no drapes/blinds or never draw them. A pretty unsightly fishbowl. I'd spent my money elsewhere, ideally in a much newer building with balconies.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 28, 2010
If you're referring to the Mies Van der Rohe buildings on LSD then one thing that leaps to my mind is that the windows (and there are a lot of windows!) are single-glazed and relatively energy INefficient.

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.

Good luck!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 19, 2010
The windows CAN be upgraded. I've done it, 20 windows, the add-on second panes of glass has been in place over a decade without any problems.
Flag Wed May 1, 2013
Whoever growler is - we're glad he doesn't live here. I wouldn't trade this building/location for any new and not so well built building with the noisy, crowded swimming pools and the hardly ever see anyone sitting on them balconies. Stay where you are. Oh - and keep your dog off our lawn.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 13, 2011
900/910 North Lake Shore Drive is all about location and great design.

Location, location, location is the realtor’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 I’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. “Add-On-Glass” 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 “green” 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 today’s buyer. What should have meaning are the building’s sound architecture, construction and engineering. There’s a reason for the architect’s fame. It’s not just a “designer label”.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 23, 2011
Despite good financial planning and good fiscal reservers, these are way-old rental buildings, were never meant to be condominiums and do not compare well with anything newer.

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.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 13, 2011
Mies was a genius.
Not everyone cares about being able to grill meat, and have a gym. No one even uses those lame gyms in buildings anyway. This building is fantastic in its simplicity.
The distinction between rental and condo (and assumption of) quality means nothing--the way in which certain buildings have been owned have changed many times over the course of a buildings history. I live in a 1920 building on the lake and it is a masterpiece of quality and engineering. I wont tell you where, Growler, so you can tell me how much I should hate it. If you think new is better, you are not in the business. New can mean better and not. I love these Mies buildings. Not everyone wants a super showy, over the top kind of aesthetic. Simple, understated and clean with jaw dropping nature as your back drop You can do a lot worse! Rock on Mies.
Growl elsewhere.
Flag Wed Feb 20, 2013
Hi Woody,

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!"
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 14, 2011
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