One of the starkest houses in Lincoln Park—a renovated 1990s single-family appointed a new pitch-black façade—just returned to market. A year ago, it was a cartoonish frame home with tan vinyl and aluminum siding. Now it’s a loud novelty amidst the multi-million-dollar limestone mini-mansions that make this one of the most uniformly wealthy streets in the city.
“A lot of the eyes in the area are on more traditional homes,” says the seller, David Eitches. “I don’t know who my audience is, exactly.” Eitches painted and re-sided the house black as a loving gesture to his wife and her attachment to the dark stone of Manhattan’s Gramercy Park neighborhood, where she lived until recently. Theirs was supposed to be a long-term stay, but no sooner did Eitches finish the renovation than a new business venture pulled him to Dallas—building smart homes.
The façade is by far the most polarizing element, as early buyer feedback confirmed. The home spent two weeks on the market in May, with heavy foot traffic. People flagged landscaping, staging, lighting, and the dark facade as areas of concern, so Eitches took the property offline and spent another $45,000 to shore up these problem areas. He got new staging, installed an all-new lighting system, power washed the house, and added bits of beige to the façade—on the door and window frames, to soften the house’s presence and reference beige neighbors.
The work done in the previous year involved rearranging the home’s insides. Eitches took out a staircase, added a sprinkler system, put in new kitchen and bathroom finishes, and moved mechanicals to the third floor. Preserved is the interior architecture, now standing in stark contrast with the home’s exterior: white walls, a bright and airy atrium, modernist fireplaces, and minimal furnishings. The linear, telescopic space tunnels toward the family room’s rear window wall, but it also towers through a three-story atrium.
The partial second floor begins with an elegant landing that looks out over the living room. It’s most natural use is as an art space, and the staging plays this up. Behind it is the master suite—large, with a private terrace. The third level consists of a pair of bedrooms and baths separated by a sky-lit gallery at the top of the atrium.
The backyard is a highlight. Sliding doors and a short set of stairs from the family room lead to a shaded patio and garden framed by a pristine two-car garage in the guise of a cottage.
Price Points: Eitches paid $1.2 million for the 3,200-square-foot house in May 2014. Jeff Lowe of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is bringing the listing back this week for $1.695 million. That puts the house almost $3 million below Howe Street’s next priciest listing and well under the comps on high-priced Burling and Orchard Streets. It’s a case of fewer and fewer freestanding houses in existence with less than 5,000 square feet in this part of Lincoln Park.