A Ghoulish West Town House Comes Back as a Thriller

The foreclosure was scary, but the rehab is stunning—a 19th-century house with sparkling updates for $899,900.

For a closer look at the house, launch the photo gallery »

List Price: $899,900
The Property: Last Halloween, this was a scary place to be—not this neighborhood, West Town, which is cool, but this building which was rather ghoulish. It’s an old 19th-century two-flat that at the time was boarded up and in foreclosure. Some of the interior was so bad, it looked like the carved-out inside of a jack-o-lantern.

James Athans Property Group bought it out of foreclosure and starting with a new facade, worked all the way through and completely transformed it. Now, it’s a thriller.

The house sparkles now, and I mean that literally. The front sidewalk has bits of glass laid in so that they glint in the sun. Inside, there’s a sparkle to it as well. This is such a nicely done home, especially in light of the “before” pictures we have in today’s video. Wainscoting wraps the walls, there’s a stylish espresso-colored finish on the wood floors, big crown moldings, large windows with deep recesses, and a handsome staircase. James Athans Property Group has rehabbed numerous foreclosures around the city, generally with the sophisticated touch that did so well here. Over the weekend, when this house was first put on the market, one buyer went batty for it. It’s now under contract, but he’s undertaking several more along the same lines.

A lot of effort has gone into bringing the home back to life—not only the aesthetic touches but rebuilding the entire structure and filling in new insulation. All that remains of the original corpse are the original side and rear brick walls. Everything else is new.

The developer didn’t just brush away cobwebs, he rebuilt the entire inside of the building. Remember, this had been a two-flat, so in converting its 3,600 square feet to a single-family home, he gets an entire floor for the living rooms, and another for the bedrooms. It would have been a grave error to have wasted any of that space. Because of its vintage, the building is wider than would be allowed today, which meant that as well as installing a very sharp, full-sized kitchen, the developers had room over to the side for another area that could be incorporated into the kitchen or used as an open home office.

There’s also extra length: the lot is 138 feet deep (the norm is 125), which allowed the original building to be extra long. In adding on a family room, the developer didn’t need to sew it onto the back as if adding a piece to Frankenstein’s monster. There’s a nice long flow through the first floor, and also into the backyard. The depth provides for a garage, yard and deck, all of them full-sized.

In an old building, the basement can sometimes feel like a crypt, but this one is quite sunny, with high ceilings, a large front window, and a pleasant little courtyard outside. There’s a mini kitchen with a wine fridge, a laundry room, and at the back, the home’s fourth bedroom. It’s big, and could be used for something else: an office, playroom, yoga studio, or dungeon.

The spirit of the house carries through to the second floor, where you’ve still got the substantial wainscoting, the dark wood floors, and deep windows. There are three bedrooms here, starting with the one in the front that has a sunny view out over the street, and a laundry room, the second in the house.

The master bath looks good, with a sophisticated finish of stone and glass and a double-bowl sink. Sometimes in old homes you get tricked with small closets, but these are a real treat: a big walk-in on one side of the master bedroom, and two smaller ones on another. Like the front bedroom, the master at the back of the house is light and airy thanks to nearly a full wall of glass looking out over that big yard.

Walking through the house and seeing all its splendid details, you can understand why so many of this developer’s homes sell so quickly, for no mere mortal can resist the beauty of the Thriller. Cue Vincent Price: “Mmm-wa-hahaha!”

Price Points: This one went under contract over the weekend, right after it debuted on the market. Industry rules prohibit Mark Baetzel, an @Properties agent who has represented many of James Athans Property Group’s foreclosure turnarounds, from disclosing the selling price until the deal closes. He says James Athans Property Group has another ten or a dozen similar properties in the pipeline now, scattered around the city. Prices range from the $800,000s up to about $1.5 million.

Listing Agent: Mark Baetzel of @Properties, 773-968-0210 and markbaetzel@atproperties.com

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