Penthouse buyers willing to pay more for views, refuge
The 88 residences include two penthouses in a 40-story building designed by Lucien LaGrange. One penthouse consists of 6,500 square feet of interior space plus a 583-square-foot terrace and a 491-square-foot balcony that promise singular views of the Magnificent Mile and beyond to Lake Michigan and toward the Chicago River. It is listed at $13 million.

A commanding panorama from the top of Trump International Hotel and Towers also comes with a multimillion dollar price tag. In the towers on Wabash Avenue at the Chicago River, penthouses are on the top four residential floors of the 92-story building. Trump Tower sales associate Cyndy Salgado says the penthouses are sold unfinished so buyers can customize the spaces. The highest-priced penthouse in Trump Tower is on the 89th floor: 14,260 square feet with a listed price of $32,798,000.

Residents in North America's tallest residential building are assured luxury amenties such as 24-hour room service, spa, restaurant overlooking the river as well as special touches like access to ballrooms and meeting rooms in the hotel or plentiful parking to accommodate multiple guests if entertaining. Residents may also choose to have their party catered by one of the chefs on staff within the building.

Because of its location in the Financial District, the 47-story tower at 235 Van Buren always was expected to have great city views. Scott Hoskins, president and managing broker of CMK Realty, the sales and marketing agent for 235, admits that they didn't realize just how breathtaking the views would be — especially from the 1,400-square-foot garden terrace that is part of a duplex penthouse on the 46th and 47th floors.

This 2,272-square-foot penthouse also includes a walkout balcony from the sitting room. An expanse of glass in the open atrium stretches 24 feet from the living-room floor to the ceiling of the second floor. Facing south, residents can observe the weather approach the city over the South Branch of the Chicago River. To the north, they can watch as Loop high-rises and the Willis Tower light up the skyline.

The duplex residence is listed at $995,000. Other penthouses at 235 start at $339,900. Secured parking spaces are priced from $31,900 and from $51,900 for tandem spaces.

Hoskins says that most CMK clients buy from blueprints. "They have seen other projects of ours and like what we do, so they are more confident to purchase," he said. Hoskins is bucking trends, though, by introducing not one, but two model penthouses that will provide the ultimate in turnkey residences. "We anticipate these models to be ready in mid-April," he said.

In the South Loop, Astoria Tower Residences and Spa at 9th and State Streets offers sky residences in a 30-story Art Deco-style high-rise. Penthouse residents are affluent people who know what they want and part of that is living on top of the world, according to Jim Psyhogios, vice president and broker at Weichert, Frankel and Giles, the firm that developed Astoria and Michigan Avenue Tower II.

"Astoria Tower Residences and Spa offers an urban hotel/spa lifestyle for residents with stunning views of the city and lake," he said. The $3 million Spa Life Center measures over 12,000 square feet inside and offers two landscaped terraces of more than 1,900 square feet each.

Penthouse 3004 boasts 14-foot ceilings on the 30th floor. The two-bedroom plus den with 2 1/2 baths and 1,814 square feet of living area has been reduced from $1.449 million to $1.06 million. Deeded parking is $34,800.

In Michigan Avenue Tower II, 700 square feet of outdoor terrace spills outside of a 3,500-square-foot, four-bedroom and three-bath penthouse. The same size terrace is attached to a 4,500-square-foot penthouse with an equal number of bed and bathrooms.

The price of the smaller unit is $100,000 more than the larger one because its view is of Lake Michigan. The lake view penthouse is priced at $1.9 million; while the city-view unit is priced at $1.8 million.

"Myself?" Psyhogios says, "I like the city view. Forgive me for saying this, but as much as I love the lake, it disappears in the dark. But when the city lights up, the view changes each night."

Thanks to Elisha Otis and imaginative developers, penthouse owners in Chicago can take their pick of high-storied views.