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Is This $1.8-Million Lincoln Park House the Most ’80s Place Ever?

The large, unsubtle four-bed at the western edge of the neighborhood was distressed and downtrodden a year ago, before an investor cleaned it up and put in new finishes.

The polished spectacle on the 1200 block of West Dickens Avenue   Photo: Courtesy of Dream Town Realty

Price: $1.8 million

One of the city’s most whimsical houses was recently saved from the retro junkyard and is back on the market as a totem to eighties excess. A local investor group purchased the Lincoln Park four-bed on Dickens Avenue near Clybourn Avenue from the bank for $839,500 in January 2014. In the 15 months since, they have gone about reconstructing and brightening the vertigo-inducing home. 

A year ago the concrete façade was soiled and the flooring was peeled away in half of the rooms. The investors spent an estimated $400,000 on improvements, inserting a new kitchen, bathrooms, windows, hardwood floors, and carpeting, as well as reconstructing the rampant network of decks and terraces.

I won’t tell you to get past the Miami Vice aesthetic, since that’s hardly possible. Broker Colin Hebson of Dream Town Realty doesn’t want you to, in fact, and is considering throwing an eighties-fab event at the house with a DeLorean on loan. The vibe is at least as potent on the outside looking in, with interconnected terraces cascading down from the roof defined by steel rails and shapely concrete. It doesn’t change the fact that this is some of the best outdoor space in Lincoln Park, offering the most inclusive views for a three-story building anywhere. You can travel all levels of the house, including the basement, by walking the interior or exterior, or hitch a ride on the two-person elevator.

A double-height living room is central to the experience, with a corrugated wall, stacked windows, and glass blocks. The upstairs hallway looks into the space and a light well shoots to the roof. Because of its small diameter not much light filters in, and looking up gives the impression of being trapped underground at the bottom of an actual well. The open staircase carries you right into the third floor master suite, where a glittering mosaic Jacuzzi is a rare carryover from the house’s original finishes. Up one more level is the full roof deck.

“It’s a really big house,” says Hebson, “and one of the best values for the size in Lincoln Park.” I don’t have a reliable figure on interior square footage (in the 4,000 to 5,000 range) but the terrace is at least 2,000 square feet. Similarly sized new builds and gut renovations in the area can and do sell for $2 million or more. There’s one house on nearby Mohawk Street cut from the same cloth. It’s considerably larger with one extra bedroom and sold for $1.81 million in November after listing in August for $1.95 million. Brokers don’t like to say so, but peculiarity depresses asking price in most cases when compared with traditional homes. When you shrink the pool of buyers, you either give a little on price or risk languishing on the market. Things are off to decent start for this seller. The first open house produced a full house and a second showing, so at least we can say there are serious shoppers spread amongst the gawkers.

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