Two industrial row house conversions on Wicker Park’s Potomac Avenue have gone under contract in five and eight days, with list prices of $550,000 and $600,000. The first to reach contract, back in early June, is the cheaper of the two but actually has an extra 500 square feet of living space by virtue of an extra half-bath and a partial third floor leading to a roof terrace. It should close in the next week. The pricier space landed a contract Tuesday and has the slight advantage in updates and interior design.
All six row houses on the 2200 block of West Potomac converted from a factory in the late 1990s and qualify as oddball and appropriate for the neighborhood. The insular living spaces (linear and with 13-foot ceilings), the floating staircases, and the strange cuts through floors are what do it. In that regard, those with a craving for unusual dwellings line up for every opening.
Jeremy Thum, who worked for the Bulls and now the Golden State Warriors, purchased his place in 2011 for $432,500. He lived in a West Loop loft previously and was looking for larger unconventional spaces all over town. Just when low inventory, commercial zoning, and bad layouts threatened to cripple the search, Jennifer Cummings of Baird & Warner found the spot on Potomac. “I almost pulled the trigger on a 5,000-square-foot former textile factory that needed a ton of work, and then Jennifer showed me this,” says Thum. “I’m sort of sad to see it go.”
The property was in fine shape from the get-go. The previous owner made one major change to the home’s interior in whitewashing the brick walls. Essentially a crude coating of white paint, the brick shows through in a rustic and elegant way. Thum hasn’t altered the home’s overall look and feel, but he did patch up the roof deck, renovate the powder room, make the lower level into a useable hangout at the urging of his fiancé, and put in new appliances. The kitchen is a little small, and the basement isn’t fully realized. One fine extra is the third-floor flex space that’s large enough to be a bedroom but is best thought of as a library or office. There was a big response in the listing’s first weekend and an offer emerged.
Marianne Maloney, a lighting designer and the owner of the other listing, is moving to Philly to rehab a 19th-century Victorian and reboot a business that never got traction in Chicago. Her diverse lighting brings a polish to this home not seen in her neighbor’s. The exquisite kitchen keeps pace with walnut and granite butcher block counters, a three-seat breakfast bar, and custom metal work. “The big move was the new kitchen,” says Maloney. “But I also put in new millwork and a bathroom sink and vanity.” She credits David Greene of Iron & Wire with kitchen’s custom metal work and a sublime metal and glass cage creating an “air lock” foyer. The basement is fully developed into a family room/guest suite and instead of a roof deck, the home offers a handsome back terrace with iron planters and a high trellis fence for climbing hydrangea.
Maloney got multiple bids after the broker’s open house. “Considering how abnormal this home is, I wasn’t expecting immediate interest.” Also considering that two other homes in the row had a harder time of it when listed last year, this level of success wasn’t a given. One of those homes wound up selling in March after listing last July; the other, with close to twice the square footage of its neighbors, listed last September for $990,000 and had a contract fall through in April. It is back on the market for $899,000.
Both of the under-contract properties have three bedrooms, newer spa baths, front balconies off the master bedroom, modern living room fireplaces, floating metal staircases, grates in the upstairs hallway for visual connection to the living spaces below, and open cuts behind the main stairs revealing steps to the lower level.