Deal Estate Flash!-A Big Deal in Lake Bluff

List Price: $25 million
Sale Price: $16 million
On Tuesday, the developer Orren Pickell bought a princely Lake Bluff estate-a 24-room mansion on 21 acres-for $16 million. The estate’s sellers, Ron and Pat Friedman, had listed the place for sale almost six years ago at $25 million and held firm to their asking price all that time, only to finally sell it at a $9-million markdown.

The developer announced it will preserve the 24-room Georgian mansion, which the celebrated architecture firm of Marshall & Fox designed in 1911 for Harry and Elizabeth Clow. (She was the daughter of Andrew McNally, a cofounder of Rand McNally.) Pickell also plans to build six new houses on the land, on lots sized from one-and-a-half to three-and-a-half acres. According to Todd Wilkins, the marketing vice president for Pickell, prices for the new homes will range from $1.9 million to $5.7 million.

Wilkins says Pickell plans to sell off the mansion separately, although it has yet to set an asking price. The company began replacing windows and doing other work on the mansion on Wednesday, the day after buying the estate, which is known as Lansdowne. Construction of the new houses should begin in about four months, Wilkins says. The Friedmans have already officially subdivided the land in village records, so the plan may be difficult for preservationists to shut down.

That’s not the case in Highland Park, where Pickell has faced resistance to its plan to develop a dozen new homes on the lakefront property it bought in May 2006 for $19 million. (The government had seized that 17-acre estate-with a 1921 mansion designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw-from the jailed insurance magnate Mickey Segal). Until (and unless) that property is officially subdivided, Pickell can’t begin construction there.

That the Friedmans of Lake Bluff ultimately got only $16 million-or 36 percent less than their asking price-is not a disappointment, says their agent, Jane LePauw of Coldwell Banker. “They don’t see it that way at all,” says LePauw. “It’s not a question of losing money, trust me. They were going to develop the property themselves, but they opted not to take the time to do it because this wonderful developer can do it.”

The Friedmans were only the second owners of the estate. Ron Friedman, a manufacturer of car bras and other auto accessories, and his wife bought the lakefront estate in 1985 for $1.6 million, while paying another $70,000 for some of the Clows’ furniture. They then spent about $5 million to update the 11-bedroom, 14,500-square-foot house, Ron Friedman told Deal Estate in the fall of 2001, when the place first hit the market.

Both the Lake Bluff and the Highland Park estates have historic landscapes designed by Jens Jensen. Wilkins says Pickell is “honored and excited” to be able to preserve Jensen’s design on both properties. “These are Orren’s legacy projects,” he says.

Listing Agent: Jane LePauw, Coldwell Banker, (847) 272-3226

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