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George Halas’s Longtime Lakefront Home Returns to Market

The Bears founder and legendary coach lived in a piece of this large combo unit at the historic Edgewater Beach Apartments for at least 30 years. It is on the market for the first time in 10 years, asking $1.15 million.

The living room with head-on lake and park views.   Photo: Courtesy of Baird & Warner

Price: $1.15 million

Only in a co-op do you get two in-house brokers tag-teaming their neighbor’s listing. It certainly makes life easier when your real estate agent knows the property as well as you. Enter Edgewater Beach Apartments, the historic 300-unit Pepto-pink pre-war at Bryn Mawr Avenue and Sheridan Road—a mighty structure matched at one time with a hotel companion, built to break wall before the 1950s lakefill and Drive extension. Alice Casey, a 27-year building resident, and Ruth Rankin, a more recent arrival, both of Baird & Warner, carry the listings for the three units currently on the market. There are some fine perches in this 19-story building, but nothing rivals “Papa Bear” George Halas’ former spread, hitting the market any day: a duplex-up on the 18th and 19th with 4,500 square feet and lake views from every room.

In reality, the founder and 40-year coach of the Chicago Bears only owned the 18th floor portion. Halas lived here from around 1950 to his death in 1983. The next owner merged three units to get what exists today. “It was quite Midwestern and humble for someone who owned the Bears,” says Rankin. Casey’s husband’s family were friends with Halases, and Halas and her father-in-law, an investment banker with A.C Allyn & Co., formed a syndicate that bought the building for $5 million in 1949-50 and converted it to co-op. 

The unit has four bedrooms, five full and one partial bathroom, two family rooms, and two kitchens. You weave through a rambling foyer before landing in the living room, and are hit with a solid wash of lake merging with sky. When you bring it into focus and shoreline and skyline enter the picture, it becomes apparent these are some of the most outstanding views anywhere in the city. The Drive carries your eye toward Lincoln Park, the Gold Coast, and Navy Pier—the limit of the south view—and to the north is another wing of the building and Kathy Osterman Beach at the end of the lakefront trail.

The interiors are generally subdued since the onus is not on furniture or finish to produce the razzle-dazzle. It works well. At least half of the lower floor plan is devoted to open common rooms, with an office and attractive kitchen tucked away. A new staircase with a landing perfect for plants or sculptures climbs up to the combined units on the 19th floor. The logic of layout up here is for one of those units to house the bedrooms centered on a family room; the other unit chips in the master suite with marble bathroom and an even larger chill zone with a library. This is also where the second kitchen lies, ideal for entertaining or hosting overnight guests. There are two original fireplaces in the home, two of a grand total of five in the building.

Even with such an impeccable private lair, the building’s community is what seller Roshan Mawani will miss most. “There are a lot of activities that residents create,” she says. “We have a swim club and I’m looking forward to an upcoming poetry slam.” Common amenities are a big part of life at Edgewater Beach Apartments (and a healthy chunk of monthly dues). Everything from the grandiose indoor pool and party deck to a gym, library, post office, and several more shops and services contained in an arcade. The building offers attendant garage parking which gives an added element of safety, but you have to pay a monthly fee, which starts around $105.

Without question the building’s superior feature are its two acres of fenced-in green space. There are garden plots, lawns, a community herb garden, gazebo, and a new bocce court. An enormous veranda overlooks the greenery, which once threaded together the apartments and hotel.

Price Points: Normally there are more than three units on the market at one time, says Rankin, but a couple just went under contract and a few more are holding off listing until spring is a guarantee. As I suggested, there are no comparables to this duplex in the building. The next size down is about 2,500 square feet. The price strikes me as both fair and practical. Mawani paid just $30,000 less than she’s asking (it was initially offered at $1.495 million in 2004, an unlikely target then or now). The assessment—what everyone dreads in a co-op—is $4,324 a month. That’s a lot, don’t get me wrong, but it includes property taxes, insurance, robust amenities, cable, and utilities—everything but electric, for which the co-op uses its purchasing power to get preferential rates.

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