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Aqua: Making a splash in Chicago
Real Estate
by Andrew Davis

When looking at Chicago's Aqua, located at 225 N. Columbus, the aspect of the building that catches the eye has to be the waves designed by award-winning architect Jeanne Gang. However, there is much more to this unique building than meets the eye.

Aqua at Lakeshore East is an 82-story tower designed to comply with LEED certification. ( It opened in 2009. ) Aqua's Chicago condos for sale are part of the 28-acre award-winning Lakeshore East community located where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan adjacent to Millennium Park and the Loop Business District.

Aqua is unique in that one may either rent an apartment or purchase a condo. ( Apartments and condos are in separate areas of the complex, with separate entrances. ) The complex also has a RentBUY program ( as do the Lakeshore East properties The Shoreham and the Tides ) that allows one to build equity towards the purchase of a condominium.

Aqua's distinct exteriors are unlike any other condos in the city. Aqua condos, which range from studios to three-bedroom residences, begin on the 53rd floor and rise to the penthouse level on the 81st floor. ( One of the buzz phrases used is that "The lowest condo is higher than most penthouses." )

Finishes in apartments and condos include floor-to-ceiling windows; tiled entries; full granite kitchens with contemporary wood cabinetry and stainless-steel appliances; and in-home laundry. Moreover, every balcony is unique and has different dimensions. As for the view, there isn't a bad one to be had—including the six-acre park, whose walkways form the shape of a sail, continuing the nautical theme present ( Aqua, the Tides, Shoreham ) .

And what amenities! Among the perks revealed during a tour conducted by Magellan Development Group Vice President of Marketing Tricia Van Horn and Director of Public Relations Larry Schaffel is a media room with theater-style seating. ( There's a weekly movie night but residents can rent the room as well. ) In addition, there is an expansive fitness area complete with cardio and strength-training equipment, a whirlpool, lap pool, steam and sauna, massage and more. ( I personally fell in love with the basketball court. )

Another unique aspect, Van Horn said, is that different types of glass are used throughout the building: "There's a clear glass located where the balconies are. Where there are no balconies, it's a tinted glass, typically, to reflect the sun. [ Gang ] calls the areas without balconies 'pools,' and that creates the look of the building from the outside where you have the flat areas."

By the way, in case you were wondering about numbers, rentals are $1,474-$3,111 monthly, and condominiums range from $280,000 to $2 million.

And if all that isn't enough, the first Radisson Blu hotel ( 334 rooms ) in the United States is slated to open on 18 floors of Aqua in the fall of 2011. Approximately half the $125 million will be put toward development and furnishing of The Radisson Aqua Blu guest rooms, lobby space and meeting areas. The remainder of the money will go toward other floors containing condos and apartments.

Schaffel and Van Horn said that there will eventually be 16 buildings that will make up Lakeshore East ( currently, there are seven ) —essentially making this area a mini-city.

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