Making the “Unlivable” Livable in Lincoln Park

List Price: $2.2 million
Sale Price: $2.25 million
The Property: This foreclosed six-bedroom, four-story house had been priced at over $4 million when under construction by its developer, SMH Homes…

A rehabbed Lincoln Park home

List Price: $2.2 million
Sale Price: $2.25 million
The Property: This foreclosed six-bedroom, four-story house had been priced at over $4 million when under construction by its developer, SMH Homes. But that company collapsed as its chief, Seth Michael Harris, was accused and later found guilty of defrauding a bank of more than $5 million on two homes he built a block south of this one.

With a classical limestone front and a mansard roof, the house stands on a wider-than-normal lot—30 feet, rather than 25—amid a mix of historical and new homes on a tree-shaded street in west Lincoln Park. Halsted Street and Armitage Avenue shopping and dining are all close at hand, as is the Armitage el stop. There is a street-facing terrace atop the third floor with views of the skyline, according to Jason Shapiro, the Rising Realty agent who sold the house on April 29th. There is also an attached three-car garage and a rear yard.

SMH left the house unfinished. “The place is a shell,” Shapiro said. Although the exterior and all interior walls had been completed, he said that the house was “unlivable.” There was an elevator shaft but no elevator, a problematic water connection, and few finishes, such as flooring and appliances, Shapiro said. He said that a contractor had estimated that making the house habitable would cost about $500,000. Construction is going on now.

The 11-room house went on the market September 30, 2010, priced at $2.2 million; by October 7th, it had a contract pending for $2.25 million. Shapiro said that the deal took over six months to close because “there were liens and utility problems that had to be worked out.” The buyers are not yet identified in public records.

Price Points: Harris bought the site in mid-2006 for $1.2 million, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. Harris financed the project, said Shapiro, with a loan from Midwest Bank, not State Bank of Countryside, the financial institution that he would later be charged with defrauding. The FDIC later took over Midwest Bank, and this asset and others were sold to First Merit Bank, an Ohio company that, Shapiro said, “has been a pretty active player in the distressed-property market in Chicagoland.” He said that at least one other home by the now-defunct SMH would be on the market soon. In November 2009, I reported on an SMH home a few blocks away whose $7.99 million price tag Harris slashed by $2 million to get it sold when he was facing $8.2 million in foreclosure suits.

Listing Agent: Jason Shapiro of Rising Realty; 773-897-06714

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