List Price: $1.299 million
The Property: With its conservative brick and limestone façade, this house—in one of my favorite neighborhoods, the Holstein Park section of northwest Bucktown—doesn’t try to dominate its older neighbors. Inside, too, it’s not too showy, though it shows very well, with a metal-spine staircase, a mantel of spider-veined soapstone, and a kitchen with black countertops and cabinetry with round-edged doors.
The home has four bedrooms, three on the second floor and one in the basement. A large third-floor room, with skylights and French doors leading to rooftop decks on the north and south, could be a playroom, an entertainment room, or an office. Because of the tight urban site, the builder, Stanley Skoczen, used a wall of glass block that runs from the basement to the top floor to bring daylight into the interior without sacrificing privacy.
For several years, Skoczen worked for one of Chicago’s greenest residential architects, Nathan Kipnis. When he began building houses on his own, as Omega Structures, he had a good grounding in how to maximize a home’s environmental possibilities. This residence has floors made of bamboo (a renewable resource), a high-efficiency heating system, and extrathick foam insulation.
As you will see in the video, one of Skoczen’s tastier green features is not yet finished: this spring he will install big planters for fruits, vegetables, and herbs on the garage-roof deck—a fine feature for a garden-to-table cook.
Price Points: Skoczen first listed this house for sale in early 2010, at $1.45 million, but he has since cut the asking price two times. He bought this lot and the one to its east five years apart; he paid $270,000 for the first in 2004, and $360,000 for the second in 2009. Although he paid 33 percent more for the second lot, they are essentially identical. “Five years had [passed],” he says, “and people were seeing this area better.”