Where is River East in Chicago? Is River East different from Lake Shore East? What condos are available in River East? River East is located on the NORTH side of the river where the river meets Lake Shore Drive. River East is located in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago. The most famous part of River East is probably the River East Art Center located just west of Navy Pier off of Lake Shore Drive. This is NOT the same area as Lake Shore East. Lake Shore East is located on the SOUTH side of the river where the river meets Lake Shore Drive.

What are the condo buildings in River East? Are there townhomes by the river in River East? Here is a break down of what and where you can buy in River East!

415 E. North Water & 445 E. North Water Condos

“River View Condominiums”

River View Condominiums

There are two towers that are red and greenish in color on the north side of the river. These buildings have townhomes at the base, but I’ll address the townhomes shortly. These towers are known as 415 E. North Water and 445 E. North Water or as “River View Condominiums.” These buildings were built in 2005 and 2000. The units are quite large and are one step up in price point compared to the typical new construction in Streeterville. One Bedrooms will typically be priced around $500,000 with Two Beds ranging from around $600,000 to well over $1 Million. Three Beds will start at a Million and work on up the price ladder.

South Views in this building are the most coveted as they allow you to view not only the Lake, Navy Pier and the River but also the skyline down the river such as Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower and Trump Tower. The buildings boast a sundeck, indoor pool and terrific fitness center (all these having views of the River). 24hr Door staff is a given but probably the best feature of these buildings is the fact that you are in Streeterville but VERY quiet. The location along the river is not known well to tourists. Walking along the River Walk you get the feeling you are walking on private property which means residents can enjoy the quietness of the river walk mostly by themselves. River East also has their own security officers that patrol the area.


Look at the photo above. Look at the base of the building. Those are 4 level townhomes connected to 415 and 445 E. North Water. These townhomes originally sold from the developer (MCL) starting from the low $1,000,000’s but larger plans for much more. Currently there is only one on the market for just under $3 Million. The best part of these homes is they enjoy river views and all have roof top decks. They are connected to River View Condominiums so you enjoy all the river view condo amenities but also have your own private entrance (and your own private garage within their garage).

The corner townhomes offer the largest square footage but these townhomes are not the typical “narrow style” that you’ll find in other areas of the city. But, do keep in mind that you still pay a full assessment to the condo association. Just because you own a townhome does not mean that you get a break on your HOA!

At the end of the day, however, these townhomes represent some of my most favorite pieces of real estate in Chicago.


The above townhomes are located just north of “East North Water Street” and therefore north of The River View Condominiums. These townhomes are older, being built in the mid to late 1990’s. They offer private 1 car garages (some have 2 cars) and have a very cozy feeling. They are narrow and what may be expected of townhomes in urban areas. They do, however, offer a very inexpensive option for those who want to own a townhome in the city right off the lake. There is, however, 1 catch.

YOU DON’T OWN THE LAND! Guess what else, the association doesn’t either! The townhomes sit on an always extendable land lease. This means that there is an additional land lease fee in addition to the standard assessment you’ll have to pay. The land lease monthly fee varies depending on the size of the unit but will run from $600 to $800/mo in addition to the assessments which price in around $400 to $500/mo. However, with pricing typically around $650,000 to $800,000 it is still a cheap way to own a townhome in the city right off the River & Lake Shore Drive.

Do you have the option to buy the land? Yes, you do. The land will typically sell in the mid 300’s to low 400’s.

440 N. McClurg & 480 N. McClurg Court

City View Condominiums, pictured above, is located at 440 and 480 N. McClurg Court. This picture is taken from the small docking area that is behind the River East Art Center. Look at the photo. You may recognize that Dick’s Last Resort used to be located on the bottom right of the photograph (it has since been relocated to Marina Towers).

440 and 480 McClurg are the oldest condos in River East having been built in 1991. They feature studios, small 1 bedrooms, large 1 bedrooms and 2 bedrooms. The buildings are broken up into two towers which share one main entrance and fitness center. There is also a sundeck. Many of the units have not been upgraded but some have. The first floor units are mostly duplexes which offer a “townhouse feel” without the townhouse price. Studio’s can be picked up around $160,000 and One Bedrooms start around $200,000 and move up from there depending on price. Two Beds typically start in the low to mid $300’s.

The best views in these buildings, in my opinion, are the east views as you are looking directly at the water and the tree line. You almost forget you’re in the middle of the city. For those, however, that want incredible city views check out the building below.

474 N. Lake Shore Drive

474 N. Lake Shore Drive is located at Illinois & Lake Shore Drive (at the end of the River East Art Center building). This building was built in the early 90’s but converted to condos in the mid 2000s. Unfortunately it is one of the ugliest buildings in the area, at least from the exterior. I despise the exterior…I hate the exterior. But, don’t judge a book by its cover!

The best units in the building are the West facing studios (600+sf) and the West facing corner 2 Bedroom units. The city views are unbelievable and the units are affordable! Studios from the upper $100’s and Two Bedrooms from the low $400s, sometimes a bit cheaper depending if there are any foreclosures on the market. The building features an incredible fitness center and lap pool along with a nice sundeck. 24hr door staff as well and you are only steps from Navy Pier. The feeling, however, around this building is very touristy as you are moments from the lake and Navy Pier and is nowhere near as quiet as the buildings near the river.

The building also has a very high rental occupancy rate (rentals vs. owners). I’m not sure the exact percentage but I know it is higher than most other buildings in the area. The developer still owns some units in the building.

505 N. McClurg  The Parkview

505 N. McClurg

The Parkview was the last project completed by MCL Companies that helped develop the River East neighborhood. The Parkview is located at 505 N. McClurg at the corner of McClurg and East Illinois right across from Fox & Obel grocery store. The building features fantastic One Bedrooms (priced from the low $400’s though some foreclosures have sold for the mid to high $300s), Two Bedrooms from the mid to high $500s and Three Bedrooms from roughly $900,000.

The building has an outdoor pool and small fitness center along with a great party room. The lobby has a grand feeling but the hallways feel small as there are only a small number of units per floor. The biggest complaint about the building are the yellow/orange colored hallways and yellow colored balconies.

The floorplans all have great usable space and there is very little wasted space. While the building has seen a couple foreclosures and short sales it has held on to its values fairly well. It is one of my favorite new (newer) construction buildings in Streeterville.


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What do high Condo Assessments Mean? Chicago

Why are the HOA dues, also known as condominium monthly assessments high in one building but not in another? There are many reasons why monthly assessments may be high such as increased amenities, higher overhead for door staff, etc. However, what is most perplexing for some buyers is understanding why assessments vary so much between virtually identical buildings! Here is a brief explanation!

Newer Buildings: Newer buildings will typically have lower assessments because they built highly efficient. From the heating & cooling systems to the glass windows the overall building has greater efficiency if it was built in 2005 versus if it was built in 1970. Newer buildings also have very little, if any, work to be done (at least if the developer had a good head on his or her shoulders). Therefore, overall monthly maintenance costs are low and planning for future projects is minimal.

Older Buildings: Older buildings will always have higher assessments (almost always) than newer buildings because there are greater inefficiencies such as older heating & cooling systems, older windows, older elevators, etc. Older buildings also will have future projects that are being planned for and saved for. These projects increase assessments.


Now you’re probably thinking “I knew all that!” “What I want to know is why two buildings that are around the same age, that have the same amenities, can vary so much in assessment price!

There can be many different answers to this question as each situation is different but here is the most common items to look for:

What is actually Included in the assessment: This can be important if you’re comparing buildings built in the 70’s and 80’s as a good handful in chicago have electric heat. If they have electric heat/cooling this means that your heat and a/c will NOT be included in your assessment. This can be a reason why your assessment is lower in an electric building (where you pay your own heat and a/c). Also check to see if any cable tv or internet is included in your assessment or not included as this can alter numbers between $40 and $100/mo.

Poor Initial Build Quality: Sometimes one building was built better than another. While the buildings may be similar, if different materials were used from heating and cooling systems to facade or elevator banks; one building can have much higher yearly maintenance costs than another building even if they were built in the same year. What is important here is understanding if the assessments are high because maintenance costs are inherently high due to poor quality or if they are high due to poor management by the condo board. Sometimes these answers can be subjective but ask a Realtor who does a lot of business in the building and you can USUALLY get a straight forward answer.

Not every building has the same priorities: Some buildings may have higher assessments because they have a very strict board. A strict board for the condo association may be building up reserves and planning for every single thing imaginable. While a board that is not very involved in building management may just care to keep assessments as low as possible. While we all want to pay the lease amount possible we may not always want low assessments. In the long run it is better for the health of a building to have higher assessments but NEVER a “Special Assessment” versus a building with low assessments but a special assessment every 5 to 7 years! What is a “Special Assessment?” A special assessment is an assessment levied on all the units in a building to pay for a large project; typically a much needed repair such as new roof, new windows, new heating/cooling system, etc. These “special assessments” are levied in situations when reserve amounts (savings account for the association) is inadequate to cover the repairs that NEED to be made.


Paul Blackburn is an Illinois Licensed Realtor & Associate Broker with @ Properties in Chicago. He can always be reached via e-mail at Paul@PKBlackburn.com   You can also learn more about condo associations or buying in general at WWW.BuyingInChicago.COM