The inside of a condo in the Elysian

Although most of the downtown condo game remains slow, the developers of Chicago’s Elysian are playing in a whole other ballpark. Last week alone, the sales of seven condominiums there closed for a combined $36.3 million.

A unit that occupies the entire 53rd floor went for $8,605,705, which David Pisor, the Elysian’s CEO, confirmed will be the highest-priced first-round sale in the building. (The buyer of the building’s only other unit that went for more than $8 million is putting it on the resale market at a higher price.) Pisor would not identify the recent buyers, and their names aren’t yet in public records. According to the listing sheet, the home has 6,432 square feet, four bedrooms, and views in all four directions.

The Elysian

Also sold at the Elysian last week were:

• a 7,400-square-foot residence on the 37th floor that went for $6.884 million;

• a 6,432-square-foot residence on the 55th floor that went for $6.28 million; and

• a 3,972-square-foot residence on the 49th floor that went for $4.78 million.

In addition, three other condos were each sold for more than $3 million.

Pisor said that four of the seven condos were contracts that, although they closed this month, had been inked in the past, a few as far back as before the building was under construction. “Some of those were [purchase] decisions made five years ago, when the price was lower than it is today,” he said. “We tried not to make them part of the thought process for any new purchasers.”

Another reason for the delay, Pisor said, was that some of those buyers bought unfinished space, and the closing were put off until the condos could be completed by the buyers’ own contractors. Of the seven recent closings, the sales at $8.6 million, $6.28 million, and $4.78 million were new purchases, Pisor said. Of 51 homes in the building, six remain for sale, all priced between $3 million and $4.1 million.

These recent sales are only the latest high-water mark at the Elysian. In Chicago’s October issue, I reported that three of the top five highest-priced home sales in the Chicago area for the year ending June 30, 2010, had all been at the Elysian. “I was pissed that we didn’t have all five,” Pisor said.

What’s the key to the Elysian’s continued success during the slowdown? “We have a product that people really want,” Pisor said. The development team assembled handsome architecture, lavish but tasteful finishes, and a high-end restaurant that provides room service to all condos (and hotel rooms) in the tower. The large drive-in courtyard, a rarity in Chicago high-rises, helps set the building apart as an almost secluded urban haven.

The condo’s large floor plans also contributed to their appeal, said Pisor. “People thought I was a little crazy with these big [condos],” he said as we stood in a condo with more than 5,000 square feet. “But it turned out to be the right product.” Contrary to the image of rich empty nesters buying these top-flight condos, Pisor added that there are several families among the residents, including at least two with three children each. “We are lucky,” he said. “Development is really fickle.”