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Brown: Upset about soaring property tax bills? At least yours didn’t go up $86,313

The single-largest property tax hike for any Chicago residence  is for an 87th floor unit Trump Tower. Taxes will

The single-largest property tax hike for any Chicago residence is for an 87th floor unit in Trump Tower. Taxes will jump by $86,313 in 2013. | Sun-Times

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Updated: July 16, 2013 6:24AM



If some of you experience sticker shock when real estate tax bills show up in the mail in a few weeks, I can only offer this solace:

Your tax bill didn’t increase as much as Thomas Gross’ tax bill.

Gross, vice-chairman and chief operating officer of Cleveland-based Eaton Corp., will see the taxes on his Trump Tower penthouse jump by $86,313 this year.

That will be the single largest property tax hike for any Chicago residence, according to preliminary county tax data obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The increase will bring the taxes on his 87th floor unit to $97,219, a 791 percent increase over the previous year.

Considering that Gross purchased the four-bedroom, 6,850-square foot condo last year for $5,850,000, I guess we can assume those taxes won’t sting him quite as badly as the next fellow.

An Eaton spokesman told me Gross could not be reached for comment.

In fact, it should come as no surprise to you that I had difficulty making contact Thursday with any of the five well-to-do individuals at the very top of the list of people socked with Chicago’s biggest tax increases.

Almost all of the 200 properties on the list — each with a tax increase of at least $15,800 — are located near the Magnificent Mile, on the Gold Coast or in Lincoln Park.

You’d recognize some of the names from the business pages or the bold-face type in Sneed’s column: Molex’s Fred Krehbiel, banker Demetris Giannoulias, lawyer Ted Tetzlaff, gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner and fund manager Richard Driehaus are among the property owners facing whopping increases.

You may be wondering what this means for your property tax bill, and I’m sorry to say I don’t know. County officials tell me it’s too early to calculate what the average homeowner will see.

But city residents might be wise to brace themselves.

A number of factors point to some of you getting bad news.

For one thing, this tax bill will reflect a reassessment for Chicago homeowners, which could be good or bad for you personally, depending on how the assessor valued your home compared to others.

In addition, this is the year that the so-called “seven percent solution,” a temporary increase in the homestead exemption that served to reduce tax bills, will phase out for city residences.

On top of that, I’m told that the combined tax rate for all governmental units that levy a property tax on city real estate climbed a total of 17 percent this year.

Cook County real estate tax bills are expected to go in the mail July 1.

For those with the very largest tax hikes, there would appear to be individual factors that caused the big jump, such as Gross’ Trump Tower unit being sold for the first time.

Two of the other biggest tax hikes involve recently-purchased condominiums at 11 E. Walton, previously known as the Elysian Hotel and Private Residences and now rebranded as the Waldorf Astoria.

Hugh and Julie Sullivan, who paid $5,050,000 for their 46th floor unit in 2011, are facing a $77,145 jump in their property taxes from a year ago, a 347 percent increase.

Hugh Sullivan is a vice chairman at Morgan Stanley and recently moved here as head of Midwest investment banking.

Eight floors above the Sullivans, James H. Litinsky, founder and managing member of the hedge fund JHL Capital Group, is looking at a $61,361 increase, a 265 percent bump.

Litinsky, who paid $6 million for his place, earlier this year was quoted in the Wall Street Journal predicting a recession.

But two vintage brick mansions also cracked the top five.

Robert Growney, former chief operating officer of Motorola, will be seeing a $77,145 tax increase on his home at 1400 N. Astor, leaving him with a tax bill of $99,354.

The historic property at Astor and Schiller is known as the Perry H. Smith House and has served as the home at various times for members of the Wrigley and McCormick families. Until recently, the house had been held in the name of Growney’s wife, Wilma, who died in February. The Wilma Growney Trust bought the house for $5.2 million in 2008.

Rounding out the top five is another Gold Coast home, 1538 N. Dearborn, owned by Jihyu Nina Kim.

She bought the six-bedroom, six-fireplace, 5.5-bathroom house last year for $3,550,000 and will find herself paying a tax bill that is higher than last year’s by $62,184.

I have no idea who Ms. Kim is, nor her husband, Hong J. Kim. She didn’t return my call.

Experience tells me that most of you would have returned my call if your taxes increased 446 percent.



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