The Property: This eccentric two-bedroom condo is one of 16 units in the landmark Carl Street Studios (at 155 West Burton Place). The offbeat building began taking shape in 1927, when Sol Kogen and Edgar Miller, who had met at the School of the Art Institute, took an enormous brick Victorian mansion on then Carl Street and transformed it into a studio complex. Eighty years later, the two men are remembered as among the first to establish Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood as an artists’ enclave.
Entering the building today via a small portal in a brick wall, visitors discover a fairytale setting of courtyards and outdoor staircases that eventually lead to the second-floor entrance of this quirky (in a good way) condo. The unusual living room has two-story, wood-beamed windows at one end, thin tile piping in the plaster mantel at the other, and a fresco of jungle animals painted by Miller on another wall. “Living here is fantastic,” says Marcel Valenta, who, with his wife, Kimberly, has owned the condo for two years. Standing in the living room, he shows how a series of curves narrow the room from north to south. He says, “I often look around and wonder, Who would do all this?”
And that’s only the start. There are multicolored tile walls, rounded wood stair rails, rough-hewn stonework, and a three-level rooftop deck that is almost the size of the approximately 1,550-square-foot interior. Looking down from this vantage point, Valenta, who is from Germany, scans the assorted levels, materials, and hidden corners of the building and says that it reminds him “of castles on the Rhine built over centuries. This is not something you plan and build all at once.”
Price Points: For a Near North two-bedroom condo, $750,000 is not extraordinary. And for a buyer who will cherish this artful space-maybe an empty nester or someone looking for a distinctive in-town home-the price won’t be a stumbling block. After buying the unit for $640,000, the Valentas installed central air conditioning and laundry machines, expanded the closet space, and added storage space in the kitchen. (The couple and their two children are moving to Palo Alto, California, where Kimberly, an anesthesiologist, will work for Stanford University’s hospital.) The upgrades cost about $90,000, according to their listing agent, Cara Buffa. There is no parking on the property; Carl Street owners typically rent spaces a block or more away.
Listing Agent: Cara Buffa, Sudler Sotheby’s, (312) 593-2608