One condo at the Elysian in the Gold Coast sold for $8.182 million. For more photos, click on the thumbnails below the story. During its planning stages, the 60-story Elysian—the new hotel and condo tower that opened this year at 11 East Walton Street—was dwarfed by the attention paid to other planned high-rises, including the 150-story Chicago Spire, the 92-story Trump International Hotel & Tower, and the 90-story Waterview. But in 2010, after the Spire and Waterview had stalled, the Elysian dwarfed all comers in one crucial area: price. For the year ending June 30, 2010, the building snared three of the top five spots on Chicago’s annual survey of the area’s most expensive home sales.
“When we began the project, we were going up against a lot of big players, and I think there was a lot of underestimating of where we could come out in the marketplace,” says David Pisor, the Elysian’s developer. “But we are selling homes at a price level where the buyers take a serious, substantial look at your plans, and they [chose] us.”
At the Elysian, three condos, which sold for $8.182 million, $7.25 million, and $6.28 million, took the first, second, and fifth spots on this year’s list. (At Trump Tower, prices have not risen above the $4 million range.) Igor Chernomzav, an options trader (who did not respond to a request for comment), bought the two most expensive condos. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, he plans to flip at least one of the units. The last time one person took the top two slots on our annual list was in 2003, when William Wrigley Jr. spent about $20 million in total for a Lake Forest mansion and a Gold Coast condo—both of which he now has put up for sale.
In the 12 months ending June 30, 2010, there were 1,419 homes sold for $1 million or more. That’s up 3.3 percent from last year (1,374 sales), but it’s a mere 58 percent of the $1 million– plus homes sold in 2006, the peak year for our survey (2,408 sales). The increase over last year shows that, as in the Chicago housing market in general (see Real Estate 2010), while prices are staying low, the number of high-end transactions is climbing out of its postcrash depths.
Several of Chicago’s blue-chip neighborhoods and suburbs experienced a more significant upward bump in big-ticket sales. The Near North neighborhood had the most million-dollar sales, with 206 (up from 177 in 2009); it was followed by Lincoln Park with 141 (up from 114), Winnetka with 102 (up from 78), Hinsdale with 91 (up from 74), and Lake Forest with 71 (up from 66). In four of those communities, the totals were still below the sales figures for their peak years (either 2006 or 2007); Lincoln Park’s sales tally this year was equal to its peak year (2006).
Two suburban house sales complete this year’s top-five list. In Winnetka, a newly constructed mansion that was sold for $6.621 million—the most paid for a home in that North Shore community since 2006—took the third spot. A 22-acre estate in the McHenry County section of Barrington Hills that went for $6.4 million took the fourth spot. When this year’s sellers bought that house in 2006, they paid $6.8 million—not enough to crack that year’s top five.
This year’s five top sales came in Cook and McHenry counties. Here are the top sales in the region’s other four counties:
- In Lake County, two Lake Forest houses were each sold for $5.2 million. One was a 17-room Cotswold-style mansion bought by the widow of the filmmaker John Hughes; the other was an 18-room Georgian whose grounds were the site of the first game of golf played in Chicago.
- In DuPage County, a newly built 17-room house in Hinsdale, originally priced at $6.3 million, was sold for $4.15 million. (A house in the Cook County section of Hinsdale went for $4.3 million.)
- In Kane County, a two-year-old custom-built house in a mostly unsold subdivision in St. Charles was sold for $2.86 million. Its real-estate agent, Jay Rodgers of Re/Max, said that the sellers had spent approximately $4 million on the property.
- In Will County, a 19-room house in Naperville went for $1.3 million. (Several homes in parts of Naperville that lie in DuPage County were sold for more money.)
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Photography: Todd Urban