February 5, 2006

The condo.

The lobby is like the hotel it once was:

The condo.


The condo.

The view:

The condo.


David said...

Wasn't the Lorrain known as Madison's best "house of ill repute" for a number of years?

Of course, was that before or after the Department of Justice moved their offices into it?

......just wondering......

MadisonMan said...

Very nice. I like the St. Raphael's steeple better, but Grace is a good church to look over as well. It has aged very well.

The lobby calls to mind 'At Bertram's Hotel' to me -- hope the condo is quieter .

EddieP said...

Certainly looks pleasant enough and the advantages you have posted about make it exciting to me. Although I wouldn't know where to park my antique tractors.

Happy new home!

downtownlad said...

They just don't build places like that anymore.

VICTOR said...

I unequivocally endorsed and endorse the move, but when I hear Condo, I think modern. Viking range. Killer bathroom, etc. I didn't get that feeling from the living room picture.

Pete said...

Okay, a better view than the one you posted before but I'm already tired of it and certainly not worth pulling up stakes for. Give me some water, mountains, a garden, even a backyard, some kind of nature to remind me of my relationship to God. The view of a church, while nice, doesn't do it for me.

The lobby's nice though what'll it look like in a year, two years, five, ten? You'll be depending on the condo association to keep it up. You don't seem like the kind of person who would willingly give up that kind of control. (Same thing with the cafe that you drew you to the place. What happens when it goes out of business or is otherwise sold to someone who puts in something you don't like?)

The deocration seems nice, too, but from what I recall of what you posted before, this isn't your stuff. You'll be moving in the stuff you've grown tired of in your old house or likely buying new. Regardless, I wonder how much wincing you'll be doing when those grandkids that are sure to be arriving soon come for a visit?

I know this is your decision, Ann, but I think you had your mind made up about this move from the start and, from what you've posted, I think you fell in love with a romantic notion of how you hope things will be. Fine. It's fun to make a hopeful move and America is nothing if not the geography of hope. But you wouldn't allow a client to enter a courtroom with the intention of doing what he wanted simply because he hoped to accomplish. You'd take a cold hard look at the facts. Why would you enter into a real estate transaction differently?

(And I apologize for being critical. No doubt this thread will be filled with comments that aren't.)

Ann Althouse said...

Pete: Here's the whole photoset. The interior of the building is all new construction, including the windows. Only the shell and the floors are old. The decorating is, of course, not mine. I'm still in my house. It's true that there are other condo buildings in town with views looking way out over the lakes. I prefer this buidling because of the street level environment and a few other things.

Pete said...

Nice photoset and thanks for posting it. Yes, a beautiful place but, dang it, I'm still not convinced this is a good move. (And I know better than to try to convince you otherwise.) As always, your patience and courtesy knows no bounds so I'll sit quietly on the sidelines on this subject for a while. Oh, and as I've said before, just because I disagree about this move doesn't mean I don't wish you the best of luck on this.

Smilin' Jack said...

The interior looks very nice, but I don't think much of the view. Can't you find something with a better view of the lake(s)? They're what make Madison special.

reader_iam said...

Congrats, and a pleasant-as-possible transition for you.

Wine & coffee bar is very cool, too.

And, boy, if I had a tub like that I'd put a wall vase and a wall sconce, or a couple of 'em, over it in a New York minute. (Not the cheesy ones, the cool ones but tasteful ones.)

Melinda said...

It's gorgeous. You would have to be a squillionaire to afford a place like that in NYC.

And I'm with you about the "street level environment." For me, "near the lake" is for weekends or vacations. For the average workaday world, I prefer to be in the middle of it all.

Ann Althouse said...

Would you put a big bar of soap -- savon, according to the inscription -- in what looks like something you'd use for Communion wine?

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Melinda and Iam. Are we seeing a different perspective for the males and females here? I wonder why? Keep in mind -- especially Pete -- that I have NOT laid out my entire set of reasons for preferring the condo. Some of them are things that the female readers may be picking up.

Broadsheet said...

Is there a balcony or some outdoor space? I'm not sure I could give up to opportunity to sit outside in my robe and enjoy the NYT and a cup of coffee in the morning, or enjoy a nice glass of wine on the terrace / deck in the evening. Convenient as all heck to the Farmer's Market though!

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I especially liked the view of the bathroom from the shower.

Freeman Hunt said...

Some of them are things that the female readers may be picking up.

Yes. I think it's a great move. I would do it.

reader_iam said...

Ann, regarding the soap: I might very well do something like that, truth be told. Right up my alley.

Pete (And with no offense to you, Ann): I'm thinking the pictures aren't really doing the views justice, at least from what I can tell in terms of how they look from street level and from, for example, other down town high-rises. I note that the Capitol dome is MUCH closer than it would appear from a picture previously posted and therefore more impressive, I would think.

Plus, these are cityscapes. What makes cityscapes interesting over the long haul, in my view, is the varying and bustling goings'-on by the people that inhabit them. Am I way off base on this, Ann?

I have been in Madison a bunch of times over the past decade, so I'm not just talking through my hat.

bird rock said...

I'll register a dissenting female voice. While I can understand the desire to simplify your life, there's nothing about this particular move that grabs me. The views - nothing special. The lobby - pleasant enough in a bland sort of way but too much like a hotel and just this side of depressing. As others have noted, the street environment always changes - cafes come, cafes go. The living space is very nice but not exceptional in any way. And what about parking? I'm guessing that there's some sort of underground parking that comes with the condo. I've always hated having to go to a garage to pick up my car - it's a real time waster. So much quicker (and better, IMO) to just walk out your front door and have Silvio waiting. And the mileage difference (1.3 to 1) is negligible - I'm sure, given Madison's weather, that there will be plenty of days when you'll want to drive the mile to work.

I've never been to Madison but I do know other college towns of similar size and I'm quite familiar with neighborhoods like the one you live in now. I've always felt that they were the epitome of grace and beauty and a civilized way to live. Sort of residential urban, definitely not suburban. I used to love to ride my bike through such neighborhoods when I was in college.

And what about the demographics of the condo? I'm guessing that it will be mostly middle-aged empty nesters, people at your stage of life. And that's good in many ways, since humans like to congregate with others similar to themselves and there may always be someone to go out with for a glass of wine. But it's probably going to be an upscale retirement community in 5-10 years. The phrase "active seniors" comes to mind. Again, good in a way, but less interesting to me than a neighborhood where the demographics are more mixed. But perhaps in ten years you'll be ready to leave Madison altogether.

And finally, the notion of change always being good is something I've always found idiotic. It can be good but it can just as often be bad. Of course, if you're profoundly dissatisfied with your life then change may not only be good but mandatory. But change for change's sake makes no sense to me.

I'm contemplating a major move myself (east coast to west coast) and I've really enjoyed the many thoughtful comments in all your condo threads. The comment that hit home was the one that asking the question was really answering it. Your blog is one of my favorites, not only for your wide-ranging, insightful posts but also for the great group of commenters who hang out here.

Good luck with whatever you decide. Our human penchant for cognitive dissonance will allow you to feel that whatever choice you make will be the correct one - and it will be.

PatCA said...

Yes, guys, things could change! A meteor might strike her building, and then where would she be?

The bathroom, spa tub, and kitchen did it for me. The magic words are "no work required." Is there some sort of communal patio or outside space? I think being within water is better, and cheaper, than being on the water. Too cold in winter, too crowded in summer. The espresso/sandwich/wine place would cover my daily needs.

We have condos like this in downtown LA, (www.metro417.com) but the idea of that being a neighborhood exists only in the mind of the marketing team. If yours is really a neighborhood, without the weekend homeless/criminal crowd, I think it will be a great move.

When's the housewarming? :)

Ann Althouse said...

Bird Rock: The parking is underground in the building. The same elevator that goes to the lobby goes to the garage and my reserved space is a few steps away. The distance to the law school won't change much -- I deliberately bought a house within walking distance. The difference is what is on the walk. The walk from the house is a beautiful residential neighborhood and campus, which I happily walked for 15 years but got a little tired of. There were no cafes or restaurants to stop at and no shops. The walk from the condo is down state street, past many cafes, restaurants, and shops -- lots to look at and places to stop and get warm/cool and do some blogging. Lots of people watching and liveliness. Also the condo is one block from the Overture Center, which is a vast complex of theater space/concert hall/museum. The State Capitol is also one block away, and many events occur there, including a weekly Farmers Market in the warmer months. The nicest restaurants in town are all right around the Capitol square too. Basically, the whole immediate environment and daily walk are much, much better for what I want now. (Though again, the house is in a beautiful neighborhood -- hilly and historic.)

As to demographic, downtown seems more interesting than my current, very upscale neighborhood, which is a very nice family area that also has a lot of older couples. It's not what single women dream of. The café at the condo has plenty of young people. Anyway, I can always move again, but right now this idea is fun for me, and my current house really is not a good match. I would never select it if I were shopping for a house now, though it will make a lovely home for someone else. Don't forget that the house costs almost 50% more than the condo, so there is money to be realized in the transaction. That's not nothing!

PatCa: There are shared terraces on every floor, but no terraces that stick out and create shadows on my windows. There is also a beautiful central courtyard at ground level that has very nice landscaping and is enclosed entirely by buildings. This is a nice, safe shared space. And as far as the lake views: lakes are flat. I think it might make me melancholy to look at the lake too much. How it will affect my mind to look at a church all the time is another matter? The view from the bed perfectly frames the steeple.

Dana said...

Looks wonderful! I see the move as providing a lot of freedom--I've contemplated a similar move that I'm postponing only because my daughter is 9 and I still want her to be able to go out the door and bike ride. I look at your condo and think what a great home base, needs no maintenance, easy to leave and lovely to return to. Plus, you really can stay there the rest of you life if you want.

RE the comments about grandkids. I remember how much I loved to visit my grandparents in their trailer in Florida. It seemed like the most wonderful playhouse and it never crossed my mind that they couldn't afford a house.


PatCA said...

Oops, meant to say that it's better to be within walking distance of the water than on the water, for reasons Ann mentioned, and the ones I did.

I agree with your lifestyle issues, too. One of the reasons I want to move is that my suburban neighborhood is no place for a single, either. I like the urban/bobo lifestyle, but with safety. Sounds like Madison has it all.

Buon voyage!

Pete said...

Thanks to bird rock who stated my sentiments far better than I have, and she's woman to boot! Guess the part I'm failing to understand is what that "feminine mystique" is all about.

No point in re-hashing this, though. Just glad to see I'm not alone, though I am in a distinct minority.

Grandma_Jo said...

The condo sounds beautiful. And I agree there are some compelling reaons to live downtown. I was waiting for friends outside L'Etoile one evening and just being there on the square was really special.

Caveat: I moved into a condo that had a very bad relationship with the developer. This resulted in a poisonous atmosphere in the association that has turned neighbor against neighbor and made being the board pure hell. Be careful.

Also, do you truly understand what it means to live in a condo? I have felt in my neighborhood that those who have come from a long time of ownership have the hardest time understanding the rules and limitations of condo living.

Be very careful. Check out the association. Check out the management company. You're a lawyer, so you can figure out the condo laws, but living them can be quite an experience.

And since it sounds like your mind is pretty well made up anyway, good luck and I hope you love it.

Jacques Cuze said...

feh. podcast your lectures: regarding foo vs. bar, what do you think? And you, what do you think? Still think that, what do you think now?

And then bicycle the world carrying little more than clothes, a stove, some food, and something to record your podcasts on.

Give up the condo, remember, you are a fluke of the universe. For a good time, call 606-4311, ask for Ken. Take heart in the deepening gloom that your dog is finally getting enough cheese. And reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot, it could only be worse in Madison.

Maxine Weiss said...

I'm with Pete, and I'm female.

Can I be blunt? It looks like a shoe box, and the view is of boxy cement. No disrespect, truly. I didn't see the later pictures, just the first ones.

Where are the tall trees? Where is nature? Where are the rolling hills, lakes, garden vistas, curved streets with broad green medians.

Suburbs and country. I need breathing space, and lots of green plants, flowing creeks and mature trees.

Not to mention that I believe property of any kind is something to hold on to!

P.S. The fireplace is ghastly. It looks like one of those pre-fab mantels. Is it a real wood-burning fireplace? I like a fireplace made of all masonry...either brick or stone.

At least fill that place with plants and overgrowing ferns for oxygen!

Peace, Maxine

Maxine Weiss said...

It just doesn't sound right to me, to throw away a house, just because you want to be close to hip and trendy cafes and shops. At least right now. You are making a long-term investment based on what you want now; but, you might not want all that as you get older.

Different strokes. The windows aren't even floor to ceiling, and no terrace and French doors? All the things that give a place warmth.....are not there, from the pictures I saw. The bare walls....no pretty wall paper (You can change that, of course). No vaulted ceilings, skylights. Breezy, airy, expansive, warmth----that's what I look for in a living space. Nature and plants.

Didn't see that from your pictures, Ann.

I'm being a little confrontational here, eh?

Peace, Maxine

reader_iam said...

It seems to me that this is just real-estate transaction, not a marriage or entry into a convent, or adopting a kid or something.

The decision to go condo can be undone with relatively little hassle and few consequences down the line.

Maxine Weiss said...

Once you throw away an $800,000.00 house, you can never get that back.

Imagine what that house will be worth 20 years from now?

The equity in a condo is not the same as the the equity of a single-family, detached home.

Peace, Maxine

Ann Althouse said...

Maxine: Good point, but I can also never get the 20 years back. Shouldn't I take the lifestyle I want?

Larkin said...


Would it be possible for me to post some of your pictures on a site of a construction company that did a lot of the work at the Lorraine?? I would of course give you credit for the pictures.. we're just trying to show some of the great work that they do!

Ann Althouse said...

Larkin: email me. althouse (at) wisc (dot) edu