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Glass Condo Building Keeps Brick Façade as “Fence”

The “new-within-old” design in Lincoln Park aims to provide privacy for lower levels and keep the neighborhood’s historic look intact.

2035 N. Orleans St.   Renderings: @properties and Sullivan Goulette & Wilson

It’s typically unpopular to put a modern structure where a historic one once stood, especially among neighbors who want to preserve a block’s visual look. But putting a modern structure within an old building? That lessens the punch.

The building going up at 2035 North Orleans Street in Lincoln Park attempts to blend the old—a three-story parking garage that dates back to the 1930s—with the new—a five-story modern glass structure with 10 high-end condos. The four-wall brick and stone façade of the old building is being restored and will ultimately serve as a fence of sorts around the new one, with the original windows left open to the outside air.

“The new structure rises up behind, or sort of within, the body of the old,” says Jeff Goulette, design principal and cofounder of Sullivan Goulette & Wilson, the architecture firm on the project.

The building, steps from the neighborhood’s namesake park, runs the entire width of a block. The Orleans side, a quiet one-way residential street where the building’s main entrance will be, features Georgian-inspired brick with Art Deco touches from the early ’30s, while the Clark Street side is of carved limestone from the same period. These two really unique, interesting façades are full of character and typical in their own way of that era of Chicago architecture,” Goulette says. “Both the developers and my team were enticed by the idea of preserving the quality of those façades and then finding a way to create a new high-end luxury residential building.”

They ran with this new-within-old concept, and it made it much easier to get neighbors on board. “Neighborhood groups are—rightly so—very interested in preserving the character of their neighborhoods and making sure things go in at a fairly moderate scale,” Goulette says. Staying true to the building’s history was particularly crucial given that the area directly across the street from the Orleans Street entrance falls within the MidNorth Historic Landmark District.

“Keeping the four walls and gutting out everything in the middle made it an extremely easy and positive neighborhood group process,” he says. Plans for ample parking didn’t hurt either. Twenty-eight spots will go into the ground floor of the building, which is intended to minimize the amount of congestion new residents add to the streets.

Each unit will have at least one private terrace, with the original building adding a layer of privacy, especially for the lower levels. “We’ve found that people today want outdoor space, but they want privacy,” says Eugene Fu, a broker with @properties who has the 2035 North Orleans Street listing. “If you’re in the middle of Lincoln Park and people down on the street can see what you’re doing, you don’t really use [the outdoor space], but because of this ‘brick fence’ you have the ultimate privacy.” 

The units range from 2,333 to 4,497 square feet and were first listed for sale last fall. Only the two penthouses remain, $3.65 million for the east-facing unit and $3.5 million for the west. That’s fast for luxury real estate standards, especially considering buyers haven’t been able to step foot in the space since it won’t be completed until early 2018. 

“It is unusual for it to be selling so fast, but on the flip side it isn’t, because it’s hitting a niche market,” says Layching Quek, a Redfin real estate agent who works in Lincoln Park. That niche is buyers looking for ample square footage in luxury buildings that are close to the lakefront. Many times these buyers resort to combining two units in vintage buildings to check everything off their wish list, Quek says.

“There just isn’t anything out there right now in Lincoln Park that offers that square footage and that kind of outdoor space,” Quek says of 2035 North Orleans. “Plus, it’s 10 units so either you get in early or you miss out.”

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