209 E Lake Shore Drive Chicago IL

List Price: $7.25 million
Sale Price: $6.55 million

The Property: An extensively restored and modernized nine-room co-op condo at 209 E. Lake Shore Drive, one of the classic Benjamin Marshall buildings on that tony block, is the third downtown condo to have sold for $6 million or more since late June.

Seller Michael Alper bought the 5,800-square-foot home in November 2004 for $4.8 million. At the time, he was moving from a 25,000-square-foot Astor Street mansion that he and his late wife, Pamela, had renovated, and for which he was asking $22 million. He sold that mansion in May 2006 to J.B. and M.K. Pritzker for $14.5 million.

Alper commissioned architect Dirk Denison to renovate the co-op condo. Denison later told Elle Décor that the condo’s previous owner had “stripped the unit of too much character for Alper’s liking.” The two-and-a-half year renovation entailed re-creating lost original molding and millwork by copying some that was intact in another unit in the building, as well as modernizing with enlarged door frames, Brazilian gumwood paneling, and “targeted contemporary interventions,” as Denison put it.

In 1986, Michael and Pam Alper launched a low-priced retail chain called Dollar Bills. A decade later, they sold the business, which by then had 136 stores, to the Dollar Tree chain for $52.6 million. Alper is now a principal in Theatre Dreams, a venture that owned the landmark Chicago Theatre until 2007, and produced the Tony-winning Broadway shows Urinetown and Into the Woods (a 2002 revival). I could not reach him for comment, and his listing agent, Nancy Tassone, did not respond to a request for comment.

The sale closed July 16; the buyers are not yet identified in public records.

Price Points: Without details from either the seller or the agent, it’s not possible to say how much Alper’s renovations cost. That in turn makes it impossible to say whether he turned a profit when selling for $1.75 million more than he had paid for the place in 2004. We can estimate, however, that his loss would be smaller than the $2.85 million loss that Oprah Winfey took on the sale of a condo she owned in the building next door at 199 E. Lake Shore Drive. (That sale closed June 22, but was not entered in the records until July 17.)

In the past few weeks, two highrise condos sold for $6 million each: a two-story penthouse at the Bristol that sold June 26 and a 54th floor condo at the Elysian that sold July 9. These are the kind of upper-end sales that have been pulling up the top of our price range, as I wrote last week.

Two 209 E. Lake Shore Drive condos in the same ‘E’ tier as today’s property are also on the market. Unit 1E has a $4.975 million pricetag, while the seller of unit 7E is asking $5.995 million. Today’s property sold for 90 percent of Alper’s asking price.

Listing Agent: Nancy Tassone of Jameson Sotheby’s International, 312-215-9701, ntassone@jameson.com


Photograph: Dennis Rodkin