1500 N. Lake Shore Drive

Photo: Dennis Rodkin

List Price (22nd floor): $4.95 million
Sale price: $5 million

List Price (7th-Floor duplex): $4.545 million
Sale Price: $4.2 million

List Price (4th floor): $2.65 million
Sale Price: $2.295 million

The Properties: Before last Tuesday, none of the residences at the super-exclusive 1500 N. Lake Shore drive co-op had sold on the open market since 2007—and then on that one day, three did.

Sort of. Because of the unusual nature of co-ops (basically, you buying a piece of the company that owns the building where the residence is, not actually taking title to the residence itself), the closings were all deliberately scheduled to happen together even though the three homes had gone under contract at different times.

But even so, three sales in 2013, after nothing since 2007, counts as a sales flurry. With at least one other unit still on the market and the recent sales possibly luring more units onto the market, the recent triple play could even presage a storm like the one that happened during the boom years, when eight of the building’s 57 units sold over the course of two years. That time, a source told Ed Keegan of Crain’s that it was largely turnover of long-time owners in the ritzy building where the likes of Wrigley gum founder and onetime Cubs owner William Wrigley, Jr., McCormick heiress Martha McCormick Hunt, WGN radio legend Wally Phillips, and members of the Marshall Field, Donnelley, and Blair families have all lived at one point or another.

This time, “it was lack of inventory,” says Jenny Ames, the Coldwell Banker agent who sold the two highest-priced of the three homes. “Both of them had multiple offers,” she says, which has been common in these days of short inventory. (The agent for the third, Heather Bilandic, has not responded to my phone call, so I don’t know if the third had multiple offers as well.) As has been true at all levels of the market, the very low number of homes for sale at a time when buyers were eager because of low prices and interest rates impacted 1500 N. Lake Shore Drive.

In other words, in this market, homes of the rich aren’t different from the rest of our homes. They just cost more money.

The highest-priced unit went under contract in December; the other two went in February, when the frenzy in the market was really heating up.

That we even know of these sales is evidence of changing times. As Ames notes, “back in the day, these units were never offered publicly. The fact that they’re in the [multiple listing service] is a sign that we need to do with them what you do with every other property.”

That’s even though 1500 N. Lake Shore Drive is decidedly not every other property. Designed by the Chicago firm McNally & Quinn Architects in collaboration with New Yorker Rosario Candela, who was the architect of many apartment buildings on Park Avenue and elsewhere in Manhattan, the building was completed in 1927. Part of its enduring cachet comes from the fact that its 57 residences don’t all repeat a few floor plans; several of the original owners carved out their own spaces; thus the unit that sold last week for $4.54 million is one of a few duplexes in the building. Some of the residents even included details and finishes lifted out of the mansion that was demolished to make way for this building.

The public records don’t identify most individual owners in co-ops. Only the seller of the duplex is identified; he’s Donald Kempf Jr., a longtime Chicago trial attorney and chief legal officer. The buyers are not identified in public records, either.

Price Points: The multiple offers that came in on the 22nd-floor unit took the sale price up over the asking price, which is great. Nevertheless, the $5 million sale price still just 72 percent of the $6.9 million that the sellers were first asking in January 2010 when they had it listed with a different agent. Ames, the second agent to list the home, took over the listing in May 2012, with an asking price of $4.95 million. Both of the other two listings had similar comedowns during the time they were listed, before the market popped back up this spring.

Note: One source says there may have been at least two other sales closed last week but not listed in the MLS; I haven’t yet been able to reach the property manager to confirm that.

Listing Agents: Jennifer Ames (first two sales): 312-266-700, jenny@jenniferames.com. Heather Bilandic, 312-893-8105, hbilandic@koenigstrey.com