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CRAIN’S: A piece of Oprah’s old Water Tower condo has sold
The kitchen in the first-sold of four condos formerly owned by Oprah Winfrey.

The kitchen in the first-sold of four condos formerly owned by Oprah Winfrey.

“The high-end rehabbers who bought Oprah Winfrey’s vast home in the Water Tower condos last year have finished and sold one chunk of the space without putting it on the open market. They plan to put a second piece up for sale in December.

The three-bedroom, 56th-floor piece sold for more than $3.56 million Nov. 1, according to Debra Dobbs, an @properties agent. Dobbs and Michael Miller of Centaur Interiors bought the four-condo Winfrey home last year as a divide-and-rehab project. A same-size piece one flight up is being completed now and will go on the market next month, probably at a higher price, Dobbs said. Two more condos will follow next year.

The first unit sold has wide-plank floors, a crisp white-and-quartz kitchen and a glittering chandelier above a freestanding bathtub. Dobbs said the rehab also opened up a closed-off kitchen, added a mudroom with “a Costco-sized closet” and gave each of the three bedrooms a full attached bathroom. The original layout, in which each room was a separate box with one way in, has been remapped for a more circular flow, she said. The three units still to be finished will follow the same concept, she said.

Master Bath

Master Bath

In November 2015, an entity whose address is at Miller’s River North office bought Winfrey’s 9,600 square feet on the 56th and 57th floors for $4.65 million,according to the Cook County recorder of deeds.

Dobbs declined to comment about Winfrey or the condition of the property when she and Miller bought it. But Marie Campbell, a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group who saw the space when it was for sale after Winfrey’s full-time move to California, said it was “hugely idiosyncratic space, adapted to one special lady’s lifestyle, and nobody would come forward to take the whole thing to live in.”

Miller and Dobbs paid about $333 a square foot for the space last year, a price Campbell says was “the buy of all time.” The average price per square foot of units sold in the building in the past six months is $637, according to her research.

The sale price for the fully redesigned piece sold last week works out to $1,062 a square foot. Dobbs declined to say what the rehab cost. The buyers of the condo are not yet identified in public records.

That per-square-foot price raises the ante slightly on condo rehabs at the Water Tower. It’s just above the $1,058 a square foot that a rehabbed unit on the 60th floor went for in June. Campbell represented a remodeled unit on the 41st floor that sold in April for $980 a foot.

Photo by VHT Studios

Photo by VHT Studios

At these prices, remodeled condos in the mid-1970s Water Tower compete for buyers with the $1,000-a-footers that have dominated new construction in the past year.

Dobbs and Miller are among a crowd of rehabbers who have been picking up tired condos in older high-rises in the neighborhood around the historic Water Tower. When the rehab is done, they target the same affluent buyers as sleek new buildings No. 9 Walton and Four East Elm.

“You get the same as new, but over here by the museum, and the lake and the parks,” Dobbs said. With a two-year project to refresh the Ritz-Carlton hotel on the floors below the Water Tower condos about half completed, there’s a new workout facility in the building and other improvements pending that will enhance the condos’ appeal to buyers, she said.”

By DENNIS RODKIN | CRAIN’S CHICAGO BUSINESS