Few streets in the world are able to conjure images of grandeur like Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, and our very own Magnificent Mile in gorgeous Chicago. Now, plop down an iconic brand such as the renowned Ritz Carlton on the Mag-Mile and you might shudder at the thought of what one might be expected to pay in order to live in such extravagance atop one of America’s most expensive pieces of real estate
The Ritz Carlton has just opened its doors to 89 ultra-luxurious residences ranging from 1,400 to 6,500 square feet—all priced over a million. Sparkling floor-to-ceiling windows? Check! Breathtaking views of land and water? Check! But now fix your vision on the interior details of this so-called towering landmark and what you see may shock you.
Described by the Ritz Carlton as having “meticulous craftsmanship and the latest building features and technology”—I must disagree. I was fortunate enough to be invited to a special private reception and tour four of the residences that were nothing more than textbook examples of poor space-planning filled with less-than-inferior materials that had visibly sloppy craftsmanship. As a professional and licensed interior designer who specializes in space planning, custom kitchen and bathroom designs, as well as having a meticulous detailed and trained eye, I was absolutely stunned.
The floor plans were unlike the twenty-first-century’s open style. Instead they were extremely chopped up (tiny kitchens were enclosed and cut off from dining rooms and living rooms). Storage closets and private commode rooms were excessive in square footage while master bedrooms were tiny. Washers and dryers were visible from foyers, master closets were comprised of melamine material not wood (melamine is what you can find at your local Home Depot), and master bathrooms had no performance showers (no rain heads, body jets, or handheld sprays). Attention to detail was missing: blue painter’s tape was still stuck on walls and floors, wood flooring was riddled with paint splatter, and window draperies were uneven (one side puddled on the floor while the other only grazed it).
As I stood in the Landmark Club on the tenth floor—the only space I saw that was worthy of accolades with its towering ceiling, spectacular millwork, dazzling light fixtures, and spacious floor plan—rumors about difficulties with developers, contractors, and designers buzzed, which offered up some explanation for the deplorable end result of this project.
Where have all the details gone? Have we actually entered an era where even the epitome of style and sophistication—the Ritz Carlton, whose name was once synonymous with the highest level of luxury—doesn’t care? Has the Ritz Carlton placed more importance on numbers than its reputation by awarding contracts to the lowest bidders? Where was the Ritz Carlton during the implementation stage, as well as the final walkthrough, to make certain that their brand and company name remained in gold status with über-luxury home buyers? I will tell you where they were not: the Magnificent Mile. And as a result, their target market won’t be there either.
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