From left: The DePaul property, the house in Kenwood, and Streeterville’s Olympia Center.
The Properties: What kind of house does $1 million buy in Chicago right now? A fixer-upper. At least, that’s what three homes in the city that have each sold for exactly $1 million since July 1st have in common: They all have rehab ahead or, in one case, demolition.
On July 6th, a couple, who had been asking $1.1 million for their brick-and-limestone house in the DePaul neighborhood, closed a sale at $1 million. The listing sheet referenced the home’s “handsome oak floors, high ceiling, immaculate condition & great flr plan.” Nevertheless, the house has been purchased as a teardown; the development firm that bought it is already advertising a planned new home on the site, priced at $2.9 million. Kevin Wood, the @Properties agent representing the developer, Environs, confirmed the plan to tear down and build new on the site. This indicates that Environs, at least, considers a buildable lot in DePaul to be worth about $1 million. This lot is 25 x 124 feet, one foot shorter than the standard 125.
On July 9th, a 13-room Kenwood house built in 1893 sold for $1 million, from an asking price of $1.2 million. The house had been owned by one family since the 1960s and needs extensive renovation, says the sellers’ agent, Robert Sullivan. On a block of stately, ornate Victorians, this one stands out for being wrapped in metal siding that conceals any pretty features. Sullivan says the buyers intend to remove it and find out what’s underneath. “We think it’s going to be much more beautiful than it looks now,” he said. The 3,780-square-foot interior has much of its original wood trim, including built-ins and ceiling beams in the dining room, according to Sullivan, but needs extensive renovation. The house stands on an extra-large lot for the city, a quarter-acre, and has a rentable two-story coach house in the rear; Sullivan says past tenants include David Scheiner, formerly President Barack Obama’s physician, and Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, former Weather Underground radicals whose later lives have been controversial.
And on July 12th, a seven-room condo on the 45th floor of the Olympia Center in Streeterville sold for $1 million. The asking price had been $1.125 million. The seller’s agent, Pamela Miles, says that the condo was in “pristine but original condition,” meaning it had not been updated since the building was completed in the mid-1980s. With 2,500 square feet of space, three bedrooms, three baths, and high-floor views north and east, “it is a wonderful apartment,” Miles says. “The bones are very good, but it needs updating.” She says that the buyers, who are not yet identified in public records, told her they’ll at least re-do the kitchens and baths but did not indicate how much they will spend on the renovations.
Price Points: Because these three properties sold for the benchmark price of $1 million, I’d like to be able to report how their present value compares to their peak-era values. But since all three had longtime owners there are no transaction prices recorded for the mid-2000s. The Olympia Center condo last sold in 1997 for $812,500, and the DePaul house sold in 1990 for $427,500, according to the Cook County Recorder.