Papa Bear Slept Here

A grand piano sits in the space once occupied by the bedroom of George Halas, whose lakefront apartment, now part of a larger home, is up for sale

Photography: Chris Guillen
Edgewater
List price: $1.25 million

Looking for a one-of-a-kind piece of Chicago Bears memorabilia? Consider the lakefront apartment home of the late George Halas, the team’s legendary founder, owner, and coach.

From the 1940s until his death in 1983, Halas lived in a three-bedroom apartment on the 18th floor of the pink Edgewater Beach Apartments at 5555 North Sheridan Road. Two years after his death, William and Amy Morro bought the apartment from the Halas estate. They combined it with the one above it and then, ten years later, with another 19th-floor apartment. The reconfigured, 4,600-square-foot home has five bedrooms, two family rooms, and two of the building’s five fireplaces. A grand piano sits in the space once occupied by Papa Bear’s bedroom.

After raising three children, the Morros now want to downsize into a smaller condo in the same building, which was designed in the 1920s by Benjamin Marshall. “It’s a terrific place to live, with the views of the lake and our building’s private two-acre garden,” says Amy Morro, who as a Koenig & Strey GMAC agent is representing the property herself.

A Clean Slate
Unfinished condo sets a sales record for homes in Water Tower Place

A 6,000-square-foot condo in Water Tower Place has set a sales record for that North Michigan Avenue building-despite the fact that the unit was raw space.

It hadn’t always been that way. Six years ago, Manus Kraff-the ophthalmologist who founded the Kraff Eye Institute in 1963-paid $3.4 million for two 63rd-floor units in Water Tower Place. Intending to create one large home for himself, Kraff had the interiors demolished. Then came news that the residential portion of the building needed a $12-million plumbing overhaul. Kraff’s new condo was to be among the last repaired, so he contented himself with his existing home, a smaller condo in the same building. By the time the plumbing work was completed, Kraff had had a change of heart about his bigger, unfinished condo. “I realized I really didn’t want that large a space,” he says, “so I decided to resell it.”

But the unit didn’t sell, and Kraff eventually took it off the market. Then this past fall his real-estate agent, Rubloff’s Marilyn Lissner, heard of a likely buyer, who bought the unit after one visit. The record-setting $4-million sale price eclipsed the building’s previous top seller, a finished 8,400-square-foot unit that went for $3.8 million. The name of Kraff’s buyer has not yet appeared in public records.

Second Sight
Prices on second homes in the Lake Geneva area shot up some 26 percent last year-the kind of price spike that would ordinarily put a lid on demand. Instead, the reverse happened: the number of buyers expressing interest in second homes in that part of Wisconsin was up 100 percent early this year from the same time a year before. That’s according to Rob Keefe, whose real-estate company, Keefe & Associates, generated the data on both prices and interested buyers. Even with fast-rising prices, says Keefe, “value is still stronger here than in second-home markets in Florida and in other Chicago-area markets,” such as southwestern Michigan. And with enormous numbers of baby boomers reaching the age at which a second home becomes financially feasible, Keefe expects more big growth in the next several years.

Send tips about high-end home sales to dennis@rodkin.com.

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