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Live at the Old Playboy Mansion—For $3 Million

Condos don’t turn over every day at the storied seven-unit building, but this sublime ground floor space has outlived its usefulness to a family of six.

The 1899 classical mansion was Hefner’s swinging home from 1959 to 1974. Before the 1993 condo conversion and preceding dorm use, there were 70 rooms to one owner.   Photo: Ian Spula

Playboy mansion condos don’t usually turn over this quickly. Leslie and Michael Martin bought a 3,250-square-foot ground floor unit in September 2012 and the arrival of their fourth child has them seeking a little more space. “We came from New York, so to us this was a palace even with three kids at the time,” says Leslie.

Unit 1N has had three owners since the 1993 conversion of Hugh Hefner’s infamous bunny pad, while four of the seven units have their original owners. The Martins walked into a well kept and sumptuous home for $2.1 million, or $100,000 less than the previous sale in 2007. The Gold Coast has a ton of plus-sized vintage abodes as well as newer upscale condo buildings like 65 East Goethe Street, but it’s uncommon to find places for sale in impeccable shape, as this unit stands today.

“There are not a lot of vintage spaces [in the Gold Coast] that come on the market looking gorgeous,” says listing agent Randy McGee of Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices KoenigRubloff. “Because once someone rehabs they want to live in it awhile. I sold an 8,000-square-foot home on Bellevue last year for $3.8 million, and the buyer gutted it.”

Before The Hef made his mark on 1340 North State Parkway from 1959 to 1974, the French classical mansion had spent 60 years as just another 70-room crash pad. For all the wildness that ensued in the Playboy era and the 1970s-80s SAIC dormitory era, conservative finishes reign supreme in most of the condos. Two units that also sold in 2012 are getting major overhauls, so you’ll have to wait and see what aesthetic emerges.

While the Martins kept a lot of the plush details of the original developer build-out, they did alter spaces to suit their gaggle of toddlers and a need for adult separation. An all-black bedroom was made an all-white crib room, an office became a children’s playroom, and the dining room is now a lounge and library. “We felt the living room was large enough to take on a dining area, too,” says Leslie. The marble foyer was originally wallpapered which the Martins stripped and replaced with classical wainscoting and a closet.

Ceiling heights are 11 to 12 feet throughout and floors are predominately stained oak. The living room boasts a grand fireplace and the master suite is among the largest I’ve seen in a condo, complete with a walk-in closet and a marble master bath. If you squint at the shower stall in the bathroom photo you can make out the frosted bunny on the glass door, something Michael wanted to keep and Leslie came to tolerate.

The kitchen is a fine specimen, with a breakfast nook, bar parlor, and door to the private side patio. It’s a slender space but runs almost the length of the unit. There are a few clever outdoor spaces like this surrounding the building, as well as a shared front yard. The Martins use the front lawn now and then despite all the peeping toms—and why wouldn’t they? Leslie keeps a good attitude about the sanctioned snooping. “Every time I venture toward the front windows, there’s a tour going on,” she says with a chuckle. “I’ve even held the kids up for a view and people have said ‘hey, it’s baby Hef!”

Price Points: In total, the Martins spent about $150,000 on improvements. Their across-the-hall neighbors bought like-sized unit 1S (with one extra bath) for $2.45 million in 2012, and have put in substantial work. The other place to sell in 2012 was the 7,874-square-foot upstairs full-floor unit containing the old ballroom. It went for $5.2 million after listing for $6.7 million a year earlier. It has been undergoing a gut rehab ever since. If unit 1N doesn’t sell quickly for near its $2.995 million ask, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the listing come and go with the seasons. That’s how it works much of the time with high-end homes.

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