Yesterday morning I was in a high rise just west of the construction site for the Ritz Carlton Residences at 664 N. Michigan Ave and I happened to have my new camera with me along with its zoom lens. As I was checking out the view I noticed these two constructions workers on about the 25th floor of the Ritz dismantling the plywood ledge that was suspending them over the side of the building along with the wooden railing. That's right. They were pulling up the plywood pieces they were standing on so that only the metal beams were left and they were skipping from one beam to the next and pushing and pulling and lifting large pieces of wood from about the 25th floor with nothing underneath them with 20 degree winds blowing. Granted they had safety harnesses on but one slip and they'd be swinging in the air by a rope draped across a beam. Here's the picture I snapped.
I don't know about you but I'm still trying to work up the nerve to visit the new glass observation booths at the Sears Tower (it's still the Sears Tower to me). You couldn't pay me enough to do this job.
Anyway, this whole incident got me to digging around about this project, which is pretty scary in and of itself. First, the prices are real scary, ranging from $1.25 MM to $12 MM. The smallest units are 1370 square feet while the penthouse units are 6500 square feet. That works out to over $1800 per square foot for the penthouses, which sound like they have over-the-top finishes, but that's still pretty rich.
Second, the proximity of this building to the Omni Hotel directly to the north is pretty scary. In the picture below it looks like there are only a few feet between them. The floor plans on the north end of the building are all for corner units that provide either an east or a west exposure in addition to the north exposure, but having been in units like this before I can tell you it's still pretty weird to look out your window (I assume they will have north facing windows) directly into another building.
Third, the developer is probably getting pretty scared about now. Crain's ran a story about sales at the Ritz Carlton Residences back in September. In about 9 months the developer only sold 3 units, leaving the 88 unit development about half sold compared to their goal of having 75% sold by the end of this year. So they have some distance to cover still and they have a construction loan coming due sometime in 2012.
Just how big is the market for condos in this price range?