List Price: $2,495,000
Sold Price: $1,325,000
When Mayor Daley set up a state-of-the-art 911 Emergency Communications Center in the West Loop in 1996, he absorbed a full square block of classic low-rise housing and turned most of it into a parking lot. A couple structures were left intact, however: A firehouse and a 1880s Queen Anne mansion at Monroe and Laflin Streets. It’s not everyone’s ideal environment, but buyer Nabeela Rasheed, a partner at law firm McAndrews, Held & Malloy, values the security infrastructure around her as well as her new views across Skinner Park to the Loop. “There’s also the freedom to treat the house as either a private escape or a fishbowl,” says seller’s agent Lynn Weekly of @properties.
Standalone houses are typically harder to price and sell, and the lack of direct comps didn’t make that task any easier. The most useful comparable was the January sale of a larger five-bed on three city lots in the Jackson Boulevard Historic District for $1.3 million—also dropping from an initial list price of over $2 million, though not standalone. The relatively quick sale of today’s featured property belies the hard negotiation and aggressive price cuts that were required to reach it. Rasheed knew her price and made an offer well below the already greatly reduced $1.75 million the seller was seeking (down $750,000 from two months earlier). Laborious but productive negotiation brought the closing price up a little from the offer, but $1.3 million was still a coup for the buyer. “The sellers started to understand that this was the right buyer for this home,” says buyer’s agent Jay Elder of Baird & Warner. “Someone who could do it right now rather than waiting for a theoretical offer.”
“The house reminds me of the grandiose settings in Henry James novels or Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence,” says Rasheed as we stroll the massive four-bedroom house (square footage was another point of contention, with the buyer claiming 5,000 and the seller 5,600). The preposterous room dimensions make clear why Rasheed, who makes it her business to throw large parties and Democratic fundraisers, was compelled to buy this place. And after doing the condo thing at nearby Skybridge Tower, Rasheed was ready for four walls of her own. “There isn’t a single thing about this house that I don’t love,” she says.
A challenge for the sellers was how much they paid for the house in 2006—$970,000—plus how much they invested in a superb gut renovation by Sam Fields and Prestige Contracting Services that sanded, sealed, and refinished most of the house and brought in obscene amounts of Brazilian cherry and travertine for the floors. The renovation also introduced marble, onyx, and imported chandeliers and fireplaces (five of them, each in Italian marble and costing around $15,000). In the meantime, a smart tech home system was installed for centralized control over lights, sound, televisions, and security.
The home’s basic architectural attributes go further than the finishes, incredible as they are: Ceilings pushing 14 feet; tall symmetrical windows oriented wherever possible toward the park and skyline; a brick-walled Tuscan-like courtyard with gas lamp torch lighting; and a vaulted top floor master bedroom (and its bathroom, where the onyx comes into play). Rasheed wants to add a roof deck off the master suite this summer.
The guest suite is also ‘master’ caliber, with a marble bathroom and walk-in closet. Even the sprawling basement could be pressed into service for guests, but its hard travertine and brick surfaces are better suited to gaming, partying, or, as Rasheed intends, as a music and dance space. “I’m going to bring in the equivalent of a Pakistani boy band for the housewarming.”