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River Forest's most expensive block

Asking prices for homes on 900 block of Ashland Avenue top $3 million

April 10th, 2018 8:32 AM

The house at 909 Ashland Ave. listed for almost $3.5 million in March. The 12,000-square-foot home has two laundry rooms, a catering kitchen and a coach house.

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By Lacey Sikora

Contributing Reporter

What does it take to make a real estate sale over $3 million in River Forest? While there are no records of homes listed in the village ever selling for that amount or more, there are rumors that an off-market transaction or two might have gone for well over $3 million prior to the real estate recession of 2008. 

In terms of homes listed on the multiple listing service, four recent listings -- all on the same block -- are aiming to hit village records for sales prices.

The 900 block of Ashland Avenue is currently the priciest block in town, but other than square footage and high price points, the four most recent listings on the block do not have too much in common. 

With two newly built homes sharing what was once the almost one-acre site of the Mars Mansion and two older estates that sit prominently on lots of almost an acre each, these houses offer an interesting glimpse into a rarefied section on the market.

909 Ashland Ave.

The most recent house to hit the market, 909 Ashland Ave., was listed on March 12 with Berkshire Hathaway for $3,495,000. 

Built in 1929, the English Tudor style home hasn't been on the market in over 30 years. Inside its historic brick and limestone shell, the 12,000-square-foot home has been completed updated, with period details meticulously maintained.

A modern kitchen and new bathrooms promise the ultimate in 21st century amenities. The master bedroom suite boasts his-and-her bathrooms, and other bedrooms have their own en suite bathrooms. Old-world details remain such as the sweeping staircase, moldings, five fireplaces, wood floors, French doors, limestone fireplace and paneled library.

The home is built with two laundry rooms: one on the second floor and one in the basement. On top of a recreation room, the basement includes a second kitchen for catering. The pool comes with its own cabana that includes a full bathroom and wet bar, and the three-car garage is topped with a coach house for extra space. 

914 Ashland Ave.

Across the street, 914 Ashland Ave. has been on the market since June 2017 and was originally listed for $3,200,000. 

In January, listing agents at @properties dropped to the price to $2,875,000. The Italian Renaissance revival style home was built in 1919 and has a commanding presence on a lushly landscaped corner lot that measures 0.87 acres.

The tiled roof and pale brick exterior with columns and a wide semicircular driveway give a hint of the Mediterranean in the western suburbs. A sunroom with coffered ceilings spans the rear of the house and offers great access to the private yard. Details such as French doors, intricate moldings and a grand staircase belie this home's grand dame history.

At 10,500 square feet, this house offers plenty of room to spread out with a total of six bedrooms, including three bedrooms with en suite bathrooms. Unlike its competition across the street, 914 Ashland Ave. has not been recently renovated. 

Many bathrooms are in original condition and the kitchen, though updated at some point, bears the finishes of another era. Decorative touches such as wall-to-wall carpeting, paint choices, tiled floors and mirrored walls may call for updating by some interested buyer. 

924 and 926 Ashland Ave.

Just to the north of 914 Ashland Ave., sits more competition in terms of pricing, and these newly built houses offer a peak into the estate home of the future. 

Both homes are speculative ventures, built on the grounds of the former Mars Mansion. Home to the candy bar family of Franklin and Ethel Mars from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s, the house at 930 Ashland Ave. was designed in 1919 by architect Harry Franklin Robinson, a draftsman in Frank Lloyd Wright's studio. 

By 2014, the seven-bedroom home needed a bit of updating when it was purchased by Avra Properties on Dec. 8, 2014 for $2 million. The developer razed the mansion to make way for two large homes of roughly 8,000 to 9,000 square feet apiece on the subdivided lot.

At the time of the demolition, historic preservationists in the community deplored the loss of the Mars Mansion, but the River Forest Historic Preservation ordinance does not permit denial of applications for demolition.

When the newly built 924 Ashland Ave. hit the market in the summer of 2017, the asking price for the house was $3,685,000 million, the highest asking price at the time in the village. 

With approximately 8,291 square feet, the home offers up six bedrooms and eight bathrooms.

Shortly after 924 Ashland was listed, the developer completed 926 Ashland Ave. and priced it at $3,835,000. The house at 926 Ashland Ave. clocked in with seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms in over 9,000 square feet of space. 

In both houses, Bayit Builders implemented similar features, including high-ceiling basements with walkout access, large master bathrooms and closets, smarthome wiring, open kitchens, and wine and mudrooms. As of press time, both homes had been removed from active sale with no pending offers.

How high will they go?

High-priced homes aren't limited to the 900 block of Ashland Avenue. Just a block away, 1000 Ashland Avenue, has been on and off the market since 2015, when it first was listed at $4,500,000. 

Its most recently asking price is $3,099,900, and it remains to be seen just what the appetite is for high-end homes on this estate-filled street.

Of the five highest recorded sales ever of single-family homes listed on the Multiple Listing Service in River Forest, four of the sales closed in 2007 or 2008, prior to the real estate market crash. 

The highest closed sales price ever for such a home was 1434 Ashland Ave., a 7,500-square-foot home built and sold in 2008 that was listed at $3,200,000 and sold in 29 days for $2,775,000. 

The most recent sale to make the historic top five was 1255 William St., which was listed at $2,499,000 in 2016 and closed for $2,350,000 after several months on the market.

In 2017, River Forest's highest sale for a single-family home was $1,875,000. It remains to be seen if 2018 will see an upsurge in high-end home sales and if so, if the 900 block of Ashland Avenue will lead the way.