For a closer look at the house, launch the photo gallery »
List Price: $975,000
The Property: One section of River North could be called the town that Montgomery Ward built. Over several decades, the now-defunct retailer built three large buildings near the North Branch of the Chicago River, and all of them have been converted to other uses in recent years. The tallest and most recently built was a headquarters office building that became condos and is now called the Montgomery. The conversion, less than a decade ago, entailed changing the exterior window walls from a forbidding black to a more inviting green-blue.
Kept intact were the hefty travertine marble slabs that run up the building’s four corners. Inside today’s property, a three-bedroom condo on the ninth floor, there’s a smartly designed homage to those iconic corners. When they installed a rough-hewn stone fireplace wall, the condo’s owners, Lance and Karen Josal, had an extended mantelshelf and a large tablet on the front made of the same marble as hangs outside. The indoor and outdoor marble bracket the view through broad living room windows of the ball fields, condos, and restaurants in this much-changed neighborhood.
As you will see in today’s video, the marble section of the building, because it’s windowless, is where this condo has its family/media room. The kitchen and dining room are here, too, both warm contemporary spaces. The Josals are designers—he’s the head of the architecture firm RTKL, and she’s an interior designer—and when they bought the 2,200-square-foot condo in 2006 after moving from Texas, they created the dining room’s handsome paneled look by removing a full-height wall and installing an L-shaped set of shelving, some for the media room and some for the dining room. They didn’t change much in the kitchen beyond the light fixtures. “It already worked as it was, and we didn’t want to overspend on improvements,” Karen told me.
The Josals’ agent, Michael Rosenblum of Koenig & Strey, noted another asset that is hidden in that marble: a ventilation system that removes all cooking smells from the kitchen.
At the other end of the condo are three bedrooms. One, internal with no windows, is now used as an office. The other two share the expansive north-facing view that the living room has. In the master bedroom, the Josals upgraded the bathroom to a warm espresso-shaded look, and throughout the suite—as well as the rest of the condo—they upgraded the lighting.
What won’t change here is the great view that takes in much of the Gold Coast, the “34” on Walter Payton College Prep, and the endearing sculpture, The Spirit of Progress, that tops the former Ward’s building next door. More change is coming to the neighborhood, but the outlook from the ninth-floor condo is at the typical height of an eleventh floor (because of a tall lobby), and any new building in the area is limited to about six floors.
Price Points: The Josals plan to move back to Texas. They put their condo on the market in late July, asking the same as they paid for it in 2006. (The price does not include the garage space, for which they’re asking $49,000.) They’re not asking for any increase to cover the improvements that cost them about $150,000, because, as Karen Josal told me, “we listed it with the intent of selling it.” Rosenblum, who was the agent on many original sales for the building’s developer and has listed several resales since, thought the asking price was “right in line for the space, the three bedrooms and 2.5 baths, and the custom design by an architect.”
3 weeks ago