Home, Sweet Home
By Patrick F. Cannon
Ken Griffin of Citadel LLC, known as Illinois’ richest man ($30 billion plus), is famously planning to decamp from Illinois and move his company to Palm Beach, Florida. Not sure how many homes he owns currently, but I see that two of his Chicago condos are on the market for north of $50 million. Oh, and he just put together a property near Trump’s in Palm Beach where he plans to build a home for dear old mom. Total cost? About $450 million.
It appears he owns an opulent residence in just about every place he might wish to visit. Apparently, even the best hotels aren’t good enough for him. Nothing like “home sweet home” for a man who would be worth even more if he hadn’t gotten a divorce that cost him about half his net worth. Reading about Griffin’s mania for real estate got me thinking about the irresistible urge some people have to buy houses more as status symbols than just a nice place to live.
Young men who play professional sports – and their coaches and managers too – seem particularly vulnerable to the urge to house themselves extravagantly. Of course, real estate can be a good investment in a rising market. But at its highest reaches, it can be notoriously fickle. In perhaps the most famous case, Michael Jordon still has not found a buyer for his Highland Park, IL estate, which he originally listed for $29 million, but which you can now have for just under $15 million. Could be that not everyone wants an elaborate gym, full-size basketball court, and 16-car garage.
Writer Bob Goldsborough has a weekly column in the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday Real Estate section that chronicles the ups and downs at the top of the market. While Griffin’s transactions are a favorite subject, many of the stories involve recently-fired or traded local sports figures. As you sports fans know, it’s rare for a player, coach or manager to spend his or her entire career with one team. Some will move four or five times during a career. Yet, they think nothing of spending several million dollars on a mansion with more bedrooms, bathrooms and parking spaces than they need. And don’t forget the wine cellar!
I wonder how many of these properties sit empty at any given time? Perhaps the owners rent them out through Airbnb or Vrbo. Might I suggest also that they would be great as places to house the homeless? Imagine all those bedrooms put to good use. An added benefit would be healthy exercise on otherwise dusty treadmills and rowing machines.
Perhaps Griffin hasn’t heard about it yet, but there’s a summer home for sale in the Adirondacks that might catch his fancy. Associated with the Whitney family (look them up) it’s a steal at $180 million. It includes a rustic, but substantial, home and associated buildings. But what sets it apart from even a Palm Beach estate is its 36,302 acres of forests, lakes and ponds, all connected by 100 miles of roads and trails. That’s less than $5,000 an acre. Talk about bargains! If you’re interested, please feel free to call 518.624.2581.
Copyright 2022, Patrick F. Cannon