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List Price: $950,000
The Property: East Lake View is now so full of restaurants and homes that it’s hard to imagine that, just a century ago, a swath of it around Halsted and Aldine Streets was a landscape plant farm filled with greenhouses owned by the Wittbold family. In the 1910s, they moved their growing operation to the Northwest Side and developed apartment buildings on the Lake View acreage, reserving space in one building for a flower shop.
That shop operated under different owners from 1917 through the 1990s, when it was converted into a condominium. Today, up a half-flight of stairs from the street-level entrance, the living room is filled with ornate remnants of the space’s former life. There is a vestibule wrapped in wooden columns, leaded glass and a plaster parapet, heraldry in the stained glass, tall columns whose capitals are covered in gargoyles and crowns, and a arched ceiling. This must have been a grand florist’s shop, and it’s now a unique home, as you will see in today’s video.
The living room, dining room, and a colonnade between them fill the old shop space. The dining room is very large, and off to one end, where the florist’s coolers used to be, is a sharp-looking kitchen. French doors on one wall of the dining room open onto a very large porch that looks onto a neighboring parking lot. The sellers, Jonathan and Lisa Weis, have remedied that by wrapping the porch with big shades that block the view but let light in to the now-secluded space.
Up a half-flight from the main level are two bedrooms. There were formerly three, but the Weises combined two small bedrooms into a larger one for kids. It’s a big room, with a very large walk-in closet, and could be the next owners’ master bedroom—except that there’s a larger bathroom in the large front bedroom. The window placement there, along the front of the building, is a little awkward: the windows start at the floor and come up to about eye level. That could be solved with window coverings; as the sellers’ agent, Niko Apostal, notes, full-length drapes would cover up the fact that the windows are so low.
Down a half-flight from the main level and through a Gothic arch is another pair of bedrooms. The rear one is the only bedroom in this condo without its own bath; it’s now used as an office. Between the two bedrooms is a large alcove area that opens onto a long indoor hallway/bike storage space leading to the enclosed two-car garage. Combine that with the trilevel living space and you’ve got a condo that feels more like a single-family home.
Price Points: The hybrid of house and condo figured into Apostal’s recommended pricing. “This is more substantial than a condo, but it’s not quite a single-family home, so we put it in the middle,” he says. Same-size condos in the neighborhood, he notes, “are all selling in the mid- to high $800,000s,” while single-family homes “start around a million”—and that’s not factoring in the unique finishes in the former flower shop spaces. “You’re not going to come across another place that looks like this,” he says. The sellers bought the home for $800,000, plus about $50,000 for the parking spaces. The present price—down from the $1.175 million another agent had it listed at in 2011—includes the parking spaces and also takes into account that the sellers redid the two second-floor baths, Apostal says.