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Why Did the Price for This Gold Coast Mansion Double in Two Years?

The new asking price for this one-time piece of the Playboy mansion is $14.5 million, which breaks down to more than $1,600 a square foot.

The grand ceiling heights and room sizes of the second floor make it the natural fit for formal living spaces.   Photo: Courtesy of Baird & Warner

Price: $14.5 million

An outstanding 1914 Gold Coast mansion with five bedrooms and five full- and four partial-baths that served as a wing of the Playboy mansion before splintering off in Chicago’s post-Playboy era, has hit the market at more than twice its November 2013 sale price. But what seems on its face apparition or error is actually an accounting, at least roughly, for the whirlwind renovations of the past 18 months.

“My clients are not investors or flippers,” says listing agent Katherine Malkin of Baird & Warner, “A circumstance arose that led to their need to sell.” I could not identify the sellers in records and the only entity that surfaced in the Cook County Recorder of Deeds was JR Holdings, LLC, a real estate holding company that acquires and disposes of investment property.

Vagarities aside, the seller brought a clear preference for a neutral palette of whites, tans, and muted blue, complementary to the town home’s upright Georgian architecture, to the renovation. Otherwise, why tamper with luscious interiors restored just a few years prior at great cost?

When the previous owner had the home listed for $7.85 million in 2013 following her $3.6 million purchase in the late 1990s and a few million dollars in renovations, she expected to make nothing on the sale. The $7.1 million sale later that year sealed her fate. I have no price sheet to confirm exactly how much it would take to recoup the recent round of expenditure, but Malkin insists the doubled price is not gratuitous. “The $7 million increase is not a pandering to the market or anything like that,” she says, “That’s how much was put into the total renovation.” I’ll take her word for it, but it can’t hurt that the North Side luxury market is inflating as inventory stagnates in the face of demand. Right this moment, eleven city properties are priced at $10 million and up while in the last three years just four properties have sold above $10 million—the current climate is a seller’s friend.

By total renovation, Malkin means inside and out. Here’s a partial list of new appointments: an all-new kitchen; new marble bathrooms; hardwood and marble flooring; crown moldings; wallpaper and plaster in place of wood paneling; lighting; terrace decking; and extensive landscaping. A selection of pre-existing chandeliers and ornate coffered ceilings remain in place, but the only whole spaces not addressed by the sellers are the lower level theater and exercise rooms.

With its new price tag, this 9,000-square-footer becomes the city’s third most expensive property—single-family or condo—on the market. Its price per square foot ranks fourth. Coincidentally, Malkin also carries the listing for Michael Jordan’s Highland Park megamansion. The two properties have almost the same asking price following Jordan’s failed auction and price rollbacks.

A complete list of improvements is reserved for qualified buyers. To glimpse the state and style of the home pre-renovation, click here.

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