Last week was a big one for high-priced homes in the city: there were three sales in the $6 million-plus range, including one that set a post-crash record for houses within the city. In the same timeframe last year, there were no sales at that price level.

In fact, in all of December 2012, there was only one city sale at over $6 million, a Gold Coast mansion that a trust in the name of Richard Driehaus bought December 27 for $6.225 million. And in the suburbs, somebody celebrated New Year’s Eve by closing that day on a $12.25 million purchase in Winnetka.

This year’s not over yet, but even if there aren’t any more big closings in the remainder of the month, this has already been a December to remember in downtown real estate.

Here are the three big deals:

Lincoln Park house
Photography: Dennis Rodkin

List Price: $10 million
Sale Price: $9.035 million

This 11,000-square-footer on Howe Street in Lincoln Park has set high-water marks for city houses a couple of times now. When it sold in August 2010 at $8.5 million, it was the highest-priced sale in the city in three and a half years.

It sold again last Monday for $9.035 million—the highest price anyone has paid for a house in Chicago since the crash, as I noted last week in an article on the failed Michael Jordan auction. The listing agent, Janet Owen, explained that high-end homes sell when priced to meet the present market, which Jordan’s isn’t.

Even though this Lincoln Park sale is a record-setter, don’t count the half-a-million increase over the mansion’s 2010 sale as profit for seller Joe Nicholas. In 2011, he bought the house next door for $1.29 million, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. He demolished that house and converted its lot into his mansion’s side yard, which we showed you last February in a video. Nicholas’s combined purchase price for the mansion and its side lot was $9.79 million, seven percent less than he collected in last week’s sale of the combo.


189 E. Lake Shore Drive

List Price: $7.2 million
Sale Price: $7 million

A four-bedroom condo that fills the entire 17th floor of the Mayfair, 189 E. Lake Shore Drive, sold Wednesday for $7 million. That’s the most anyone has paid for a residence in the former Mayfair Regent hotel since 2006, when the penthouse two flights up went for $8 million.

The seller, Evageline Haarlow, lives in Florida; county records don’t indicate when she bought the condo or for how much. The last sale on record is in 1997, when the storied old hotel was being converted to condos. The buyers then paid $2.37 million for it, but county records don’t show them selling it to Haarlow.

The listing agent, Coldwell Banker’s Suzanne Gignilliat, put the property’s asking price as $7.2 million in the multiple-listing service’s database; she also noted it as selling in one day. That most likely means that she sold the property as a pocket listing, but she did not respond to a request for comment.


Palmolive Building

List Price (Palmolive): $7.5 million
Sale Price: $6.75 million

A three-bedroom on the 31st floor of the Palmolive Building went for $6.75 million on Wednesday, the same day as the Mayfair condo sold.

It’s the only one of our trio that didn’t set a record of any kind. The highest price anybody’s paid in the lovely old Art Deco landmark is the $12 million that Vince Vaughn paid in 2006 for a 12,000-square-footer that includes the space that was Hugh Hefner’s office when Playboy was headquartered there.

The seller in last week’s $6.75 million deal was Judith Blazer, who bought the condo in 2006 for $5.84 million, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. That was the year after Blazer, a Chicago philanthropist, Blazer sold a mammoth home in Door County, Wisconsin, for $18 million.

The 5,500-square-foot condo’s listing agent, Kimberly Gleeson of Koenig & Strey, listed it as going on and off the market in one day, so it was probably also a pocket listing, but she didn’t respond to a request for comment. The asking price was $7.5 million. I could not locate Blazer for comment.