Chicago Condotels

Chicago Condotels

Condo-hotels or condotels are large, four and five star high-rise properties operated by the big names in hotels such as the Ritz Carlton, Hilton, Le Meridien, Clarion, Four Seasons, and Bulgari. They are fully furnished with top-of-the-line amenities and owners have the benefits of staying in luxurious hotel space, as well as the opportunity to share in the property’s rental program.

Large corporations have discovered major cities like Chicago, one of the most visited tourist destinations and largest business centers in the U.S., to be prime locations for condotels. The Solis Chicago Hotel Condominiums is the second condotel owned by Falor Companies to open in the city. Overlooking the Chicago River, the Solis Condos are in close proximity to the major tourist attractions including Grant Park, Lake Michigan, the Art Institute, the theater district, and Millenium Park, as well as numerous shops and restaurants. Each fully furnished unit includes high-speed Internet access, an entertainment center, plasma TV, marble-tiled bathrooms, and Italian linens. The hotel building features a 7,000 square foot spa and fitness center, concierge, 24-hour room service, 10,000 square feet of conference and meeting space, and a first-class restaurant and bar in the hotel lobby. There are 421 condotel units, each selling for approximately $314,000 to $950,00, ranging in size from 380 square foot studios to over 1,500 square foot three-room units.

Three other condotels are being developed in Chicago, with plans for completion in the next two years. The Waterview Tower and Shangri-La Spa, a five-star 90-story condotel along the Chicago River, will be the 5th tallest building in the city. The Waterview Tower is a combination of private residential condos and 200 condotel units. Amenities will include the fully equipped health spa; a 6,000 sq ft fitness center; 24-hour butler, doorman, and room service; two restaurants; concierge; and business center. Prices (all subject to change) for the condotel units start at $500,000 for studios, $1,035,000 for one bedroom, and $1,398,000 for the largest.

Another condotel in development is the Trump International Hotel & Tower, with a mix of 472 residential units and 286 one and two-bedroom condotel units, including penthouses, located on the 17th through the 27th floors of the 92-story building. The Trump International in Chicago will have a 60,000 square foot health club and spa, an upscale restaurant on the 16th floor, 90,000 square feet of shops, and 20,000 square feet of meeting and conference space. These luxurious condotel units will have floor to ceiling windows offering magnificent views of the city skyline, ultra-modern kitchens, and European style furnishings. Prices start at $800,000 and up to over $3 million.

The Elysian condotel, on the corner of Walton and Rush Streets, is located near the Oak Street shopping district, the theaters, and the prominent retailers along Michigan Avenue. It will have 60 stories including 188 condotel units, ranging in size from 600 to 1,300 square feet, and priced from $500,000 to over $1,000,000. Units are completely furnished with solid wood furniture, fireplaces, modern kitchens, plasma TVs, terraces, French windows, and stone baths. They will also include a personal armoire for the owner’s storage between visits to the city. Owners may choose to live in them year round or use them as a part of the property’s rental program. The Elysian will feature a private health club and spa, grand beauty salon, gourmet dining, and other luxurious amenities.

Businessmen see the advantage of owning their own room, a condotel unit, rather than spending $200 to $400 a night every time they travel to Chicago. Others can buy into a condotel as a vacation home and then use it for rental property in the interim. Each owner who participates in the property’s rental program receives a share of the rental income from his unit, usually 40 – 60%. Because of the name associated with the condotel, individual owners earn, in general, much higher rents than they would for a regular vacation property. The condotel property owners pay for housekeeping, administrative, and marketing, and the condotel unit owner pays the real estate taxes, the insurance, a share of the total maintenance fee, and for any capital improvements or upgrades. Condotels attract international buyers, as well, who want in on the stable U.S. economy and a place to stay when traveling, without the responsibility of upkeep, which would be a disadvantage while out of the country.

Condotels differ from timeshares in that the owner usually has more access to using them, even when participating in the rental sharing program, rather than being restricted to a specified two-week period during the year. Another positive factor in buying into a condotel is that they are much easier to resell than vacation homes or timeshares, primarily due to their prime location and luxurious appointments. Because land is at a premium and extremely scarce in large cities and business centers, the condotel properties appreciate more rapidly than other types of vacation real estate. In general, although purchase prices are high, depending upon size, location, and amenities, the opportunity to recoup some of that original investment through rental income is very appealing. Ownership of real estate usually has definite tax advantages and the benefits of condotel ownership are quite evident.

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