An architect’s conversion of a general store on Hollywood Avenue between Ashland and Hermitage Avenues looks and feels like a from-scratch modernist commission. Any raw elements from the 1914 corner store vanished in the previous Southwestern adobe style single-family conversion. That’s how Wayne Kumingo and Michael LaFauce found it when they purchased the place in 2007, with the help of friend and current listing agent Karl Vogel. It turned out Vogel had done something radical with another old storefront two blocks south on Bryn Mawr.
“Karl’s mod storefront two blocks over inspired us to do something similar,” says LaFauce. “We thought it’d take three weeks; five years later, it’s finally exactly where we want it.”
The listing calls the original structure a “candy store.” In truth, that was an identity mythologized a while back by locals who, as kids, used the store for candy runs. It was a general store and, according to Vogel, would not have opened at this location had it arrived three years later. A neighborhood zoning law in 1917 banished new commercial development on residential blocks. With Rosehill Cemetery and a train station just to the east and Edgewater Medical Center a block west, this was probably a prime stop-off for commuters and the lunch crowd.
This quiet block will get a little busier again when the long-defunct Edgewater Medical Center eventually goes residential. A new bid has emerged for the site and the community has steered the redevelopment toward a compromise that would see the large parking lot on Edgewater Avenue host new townhouses and a small park.
For today, we’ll just worry about the listed property. Kumingo and LaFauce lived in the Southwestern themed space for two years before launching the rebuild. They hired Kujawa Architecture, now Range Design, to design something modern and bright. They easily went through 20 design variations with the architect before finding their ideal. “At one point there was even a light study, where skylights were the only windows,” says Kumingo. They’ve gotten some pleasure from the space, but say it’s time to try high-rise living by the lake.
Most visitors will enter through a side door into the high-ceilinged living and dining room, but the most dramatic way to approach the space is from the backyard. From the small sunroom, you propel down a slender hallway toward the towering front windows and wide-open kitchen and living areas. It’s a neat telescopic effect. The bedrooms and two bathrooms are efficiently packed into the back of the house so that there’s no distraction from the streamlined sculpture of the main space.
Price Points: Vogel, acknowledging the cliché, tells me this home is a “house for the price of a condo.” It’s true that it lives most like a loft and would present challenges to the management of young children. But Vogel is right that you can easily drop $472,000 on a three-bedroom condo—not so much in Edgewater, but definitely in Lakeview or Lincoln Park. And you won’t get the yard, the garage, or the peace and quiet.
For comps, Vogel relied on newer townhouses, mostly those at Backyard Andersonville at Clark Street and Lawrence Avenue. “Although they’re super nice inside, they’re cinderblock and border a cemetery.” They sold out at prices between $430,000 to $530,000. So far, Vogel’s pricing seems on point: When I visited Sunday, there had been eight showings in the two days since the home hit the market.
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