A four-bedroom condo that was home to Barack and Michelle Obama from 1993 to 2005 was supposed to go on the rental market this week after having some painting done—but a pair of renters grabbed it over the weekend. The first-floor condo is in Eastview Park, a gated block-long cluster of brick and limestone six-flats that run south from 53rd Street and face the lakefront park and Lake Shore Drive. The Obamas paid $277,500 for the condo in August 1993, ten months after they were married, and sold it for $415,000 in April 2005, when they moved to the nearby Kenwood house where the President is spending his 49th birthday today.
While the couple lived in Eastview Park, their two daughters were born, and Barack Obama published his memoir Dreams from My Father and ran successfully for a seat in the Illinois State Senate. The Obamas also renovated the condo’s kitchen, installing modern white cabinets and a family-style breakfast bar and painting the walls a sunny yellow—a color that the First Lady often wears. “We all know how Michelle Obama likes yellow,” says Amy Gelman, the Metro Pro real-estate agent who was going to represent the property, until it got rented last weekend via a posting at the University of Chicago.
The monthly rent is $2,400. The landlords, who bought from the Obamas, are the jazz musician Kurt Elling and his wife, Jennifer. Last month, Downbeat magazine named Kurt Elling the jazz world’s top male vocalist for the eleventh year in a row. Gelman says the Ellings lived in the condo until 2008 and then rented the place for two years; those tenants moved out a month or two ago, she says.
The Ellings considered putting the place on the market at about $550,000, Gelman says. Another Eastview Park condo is for sale at $359,000; that unit has two bathrooms, while the former Obama condo has two and a half (it used to have three, but laundry machines were installed in one, leaving only the toilet and sink).
As you can see in the pictures below, the living room has built-in bookcases flanking a green-tiled fireplace beneath double-banded wood trim, and the neighboring sun porch has its original red tile floor. A large formal sideboard in the dining room complements a beamed ceiling. The natural-wood pillars in the condo’s foyer have handsome wood overlays.
Built in the late 1910s, Eastview Park’s western string of buildings, which includes the one where the Obamas lived, originally fronted a shorefront boardwalk, according to Toba Cohen. An Urban Search agent, Cohen represents the sellers of Eastview Park’s sole single-family home, priced at $480,000. Eastview Park lost its lakefront when Lake Shore Drive was extended south in the 1930s, and a second block of six-flats was built east of some of the originals. All of them look into a tree-shaded private green space separated from the park by a wrought-iron fence.
Gelman said the renters of the Obama condo are North Siders who are selling their home there and plan to look for a place to buy in Hyde Park or Kenwood. This might mean the Obamas’ former condo will be back on the rental market when the new tenants’ lease is up in a year.