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2 Old Town mansions bought by out-of-state firms

Two buyers recently have purchased large single-family homes in Old Town for between $2.8 million and $3.1 million each.

Records show that out-of-state limited-liability companies — one based in California and one created in New Jersey — were the buyers of the two houses.

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On Jan. 26, a New Jersey-based LLC paid just over $2.8 million for a newly built, five-bedroom contemporary-style house in Old Town. The 5,500-square-foot house has five full baths, two half baths, floor-to-ceiling commercial-grade aluminum windows, three HVAC systems, an air scrubber, tankless water heaters, heated floors in all baths, five fireplaces, a staircase with glass railings, a five-stop elevator, a sauna, a wine cellar, a generator and a kitchen with a 12-foot island and Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances.

The mansion is across the street from the six-bedroom, 6,500-square-foot house that former Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias bought in October for $2.6 million. Jennifer Ames of Coldwell Banker, who represented the buyer, declined to comment.

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Separately, a vintage five-bedroom, 9,200-square-foot mansion in Old Town sold on Feb. 2 to a California-based LLC for $3.05 million. Built in 1886, the four-story mansion has a grand staircase, four full baths, two half baths, seven original fireplaces with carved mantels, intricate moldings, 8-foot original birch pocket doors, an eat-in kitchen, an elevator, a foyer, a paneled dining room, a den and a five-car brick garage and coach house, all on an oversized 149-foot-deep lot.

Located on North LaSalle Street, the mansion was built by John F. Jelke, who invented vegetable oil-based margarine, or oleomargarine. After Jelke's heirs sold it, it became a halfway house in the 1940s for alcohol and drug abusers. An interior designer rehabilitated the mansion in 1979, and in 1987, Playboy magazine used the master bath and whirlpool — both in solid marble — for a nude pictorial featuring the late mob boss Sam Giancana's daughter, Antoinette.

"The reality is that that home, at 9,200 square feet, sold for less than $350 per square foot. Place that house a few blocks over on State (Parkway) or Dearborn (Street), and it's double the price," said listing agent Mark Icuss of Conlon/Christie's. "From a mansion perspective, it was quite a value even though it's on LaSalle, plus it has a five-car garage, an extra-large lot, a coach house above the garage and the in-law apartment in the basement — that made it a pretty attractive buy."

Linda Levin of Jameson Sotheby's International Realty, who represented the buyer, declined to comment on the buyer's identity.

Bob Goldsborough is a freelance reporter.

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