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Live in This Modern Mansion in Lincoln Park for $9.25 Million

The converted building was a renowned artist enclave from 1960-2009.

The bedroom wing vaults above the sculpture garden. None of this is visible from the street.   Photo: Ian Spula

Price: $9.25 million

The Lincoln Park building that housed the storied Contemporary Art Workshop (CAW) for nearly 50 years is on the market as something unrecognizable to the hundreds of young artists who made and exhibited work within its walls. That’s because when the non-profit closed in January 2009, founding members Lynn and Jack Kearney (the late, great sculptor whose work fills nearby Oz Park) sold the building for scrap—$2.2 million worth—and the new owners retrofitted its frame with high modern architecture and décor, executed to perfection by architect John Vinci and builder GCC, Inc. The new 9,200-square-foot mansion, completed in 2011, is now listed at $9.25 million.

The property covers two standard Chicago lots and the extant structure allows the residence to stand flush to each lot line—48 feet of actual width rather than whatever’s left after conceding at least three feet on each side to mandated setbacks. It looks at first like the garden is totally sealed off by window walls. Upon closer inspection, some of the monster panes are sliding doors. This had to be an incredibly expensive installation. Elegant understatement is not cheap, and is the theme throughout. The sellers may have delegated design but they certainly called the shots with décor. An art collection of multiple mediums lives on the main floor, giving life to gallery grade white walls; the lighting system is sophisticated and precise; and handmade tables, benches, and Midcentury Modern chairs define the amorphous spaces.

Despite several areas for lounging, eating, reading, and playing, the layout wisely concedes the kitchen as social center of the home. There is great circulation through the all-white kitchen, no shortage of counter space, cabinetry that conceals most appliances, and a couple of large islands to gather around. It has a dining table along the windows to the garden that gives the formal dining room stiff competition. Between the kitchen and family room, a dramatic floating staircase leads to the bedroom wing on new second and third floors. A theater curtain hangs alongside (there is another by the front entrance), which I suspect is an aesthetic choice first. There could be reason to use them—for privacy or to muffle sound from a TV—but mostly you wouldn’t bother.

The bedroom wing, rising above the single-story industrial footprint, is segregated by gender preferences and stereotypes: a decadent pink room for a girl; an adventure-packed room for a boy; and a master suite with his and hers bathrooms and walk-ins. Theoretically the family comes together at the third floor TV room or on one of three terraces. These outdoor spaces and most windows on the second and third floors face south. “You can really feel that they collaborated on every step of the project,” says listing agent Linda Levin of Jameson Sotheby’s.

The sellers didn’t feel the need to fuss with the basement. It only runs beneath the new bedroom addition, anyway, with space for a few pieces of gym equipment, a desk, and mechanicals. Why focus on the livability of an inferior space when you’ve got a huge, bright, high ceilinged home above ground?

Price Points: The $9.25 million price tag puts the property at almost exactly $1,000 a square foot, which only one Lincoln Park single-family sale has eclipsed in the last year—a new-build on Howe Street that closed for $1,067 a square foot. A few neighborhood condos currently on the market are asking similar PPSF. As for direct comps, only one house in the area has sold for more than $6 million in the last three years. It was also on Howe Street—an 11,000-square-footer that fetched $9.04 million in late 2013. But for some basic price guidance from the neighborhood, you can basically toss out the comps. The property at hand is entirely unique in its level of vision and execution.

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