Chicago Condo Buyers: OK to Downsize

When searching for Chicago real estate, buyers might trade space for location and downsize to a smaller condo in the city.

Chicago Real Estate with views

With a view like this, buyers might be willing to sacrifice extra space.

Like any other type of property, one of the things buyers traditionally want in a Chicago condo is enough space. But does size really matter? While the square footage needs vary from buyer to buyer and from lifestyle to lifestyle, many buyers shopping for Chicago condos are willing to rethink and renegotiate the amount of space they need or want.
An article this month from MSNBC says homebuyers are willing to make this trade off—living in the city and sacrificing space versus community from suburbia where square footage isn’t at the same premium. For younger generations, location is often more important than size. While empty nesters are willing to return to the city to live and reside in 2,000 to 3,500 square feet, compared to perhaps a 5,000-square foot home in the suburbs. Those who buy Chicago real estate because they are frequent international travelers in many cases are willing to live in as little as 1,600 square feet.
An important thing to note is that downsizing to a smaller Chicago condo does not mean sacrificing the luxury that many buildings have to offer. Those who are willing to give up space are still looking for sophisticated environments, newer properties, concierge services, and the walkability that comes with city living. Many buyers of real estate in Chicago want to live right off of Michigan Avenue—usually within a block or two east or west of the Magnificent Mile. A great selling point is the magnificent views offered from high-rises in this area—a panorama of Lake Michigan on the east and the city’s skyline all around. Another added plus for Chicago condo buyers are high ceilings (at least 9 feet high) and balconies to take in the aforementioned view.
If you’re looking for luxury but can scrimp on space, here are a few options for Chicago condos that make downsizing worth it:
Olympia Centre (161 E Chicago Ave.)
One and two-bedroom condos in the Olympia Centre might average around $494 per square foot—far more affordable than comparable properties in New York City and San Francisco. A smaller home in the Olympia Centre still gives residents access to the building’s amenities, including a 24-hour door staff, a pool and exercise room, full-time concierge, a party room and a sundeck. Not to mention the Olympia Centre is a ½ block from the posh shopping of Michigan Avenue.
The Park Tower (800 N Michigan Ave.)
This Lucien Lagrange-designed building on Chicago’s North Side is above the Park Hyatt Hotel, so residents can take full advantage of the hotel’s services. Luxury 2 and 3-bedroom units in the Park Tower might average about $960 per square foot and put residents steps from world-class shopping and dining, beaches, museums and theaters. The building is so chic, it touts itself as not only a place to live, but a way of life.
55 E Erie
Mostly one and three bedroom units, 55 E Erie brings residents luxury amenities like a fitness center, steam room and sauna, 24-hour lobby staff, a valet and a hospitality room. Smaller units go down to about 1,000 square feet for a one bedroom, and the building’s units overall carry an average cost per square foot of about $580. Most units include balconies that let residents experience breathtaking views year round.
The Palmolive Building (169 E Walton)
One of Chicago’s most iconic buildings, the Palmolive Building was renovated into condominiums in 2002. With a few one-bedrooms, the building is mostly comprised of 2 and 3-bedrooms with an average price-per-square-foot of about $730 This prestigious building includes concierge services, health club, 24-hour doorman, steam room and sauna, and is steps from Michigan Avenue.
The Fordham (25 E Superior)
This River North building was built in 2003 and includes many 1-3 bedroom condos (as well as 11th floor town homes and executive penthouses). Luxury services at the Fordham range from daily maid service, an in-house wine cellar, room service, spa services, a humidor room and a private theater. The building’s more modest units might cost about an average of $580 per square foot. Plus, your four-legged friends can enjoy the luxury of the Fordham with it’s rooftop pet recreation area.
If you’re interested in finding a Chicago condo with the space you need—or don’t need—with all the amenities you want, contact Chicago real estate agent Sheldon Salnick at (312) 498-5080 or by e-mail at