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This $299,000 Five-Bed is a Big Bargain on King Drive

Clear the short sale hurdle and come away with a lot of home for the price with tremendous value-added potential.

The 1890 Grand Boulevard five-bed, in better-than-average condition in an up-and-down section of South Side.   Photo: Ian Spula

Price: $299,000

In Grand Boulevard and the larger Bronzeville, prospecting has returned to vacant lots and modern infill is creeping in behind. King Drive is near its epicenter, but is not so involved thanks to an already gorgeous and mostly erect housing stock. Along this corridor historic rehab is the name of the game, much of it occurring before the real estate bust. Today, I’m spotlighting an intricate tan-hued Brownstone that never had a total rebuild but instead a string of owners who worked at keeping it creaky and comfortable.

The sellers are Silas and Theodoshia Swope, a retired salesman and a retired nurse whose daughter Regina Frierson hopes to whisk them off to Florida. They’ve lived 19 years in the house and have decked out the space with complementary antiques and finishes—pricey chandeliers, wall-sized standing mirrors, Victorian wallpaper, and very heavy furniture. 

Even a young buyer may prefer the evolutionary approach to rehabbing this 4,000-square-footer, which needs paint and a reimagining of upstairs rooms, particularly a former bathroom that’s in a gutted state. It connects directly to a large guest bedroom and Frierson also thinks it could make a great sitting room. Save your sparkplug energy for the gutted coach house. The vaulted space sits atop a four-car garage and is all timbers at the moment. This one was beyond the Swopes’ capabilities, but there’s clear potential here for a one- or two-bedroom standalone home or 1,500-square-foot addition.

In the mid 1990s a previous owner took on the property with a rooming house layout and a lot of extra walls. “He brought the rooms back to their right size,” says Frierson. The owner also restored the original doors wherever possible, hauled in one or two flashy antique doors, installed windows, and brought the grand staircase back to relevance. “All the wood you see (trim, baseboards) had been painted over.” As a rehabber he got in and got out.

“It’s a big house, but not overwhelming,” says Frierson. Twelve-foot ceilings and window bays are key to the seductive spaciousness. Cosmetic work will go a long way in the main house. In the long living room, for instance, spidery ceiling cracks were caulked but the ceiling hasn’t been repainted. And while the eat-in kitchen isn’t in dire need of anything color would break up the monotony of oak cabinetry.

Price Points: Several years ago the comps in the area were $200,000 above what they are now, but the Swopes weren’t ready to sell. Recent sales with prices bracketing today’s listing, one a total gut of a Greystone around the corner and the other a 1997 townhouse down the block, confirm the wisdom of a $299,000 asking price. Unfortunately, they’re listing the home as a short sale for $176,000 less than what they paid in 2004. New construction and renovations are accelerating again, but so much damage was done to Grand Boulevard by the runaway market and its bad bets.

Jameson Sotheby’s Ayumi DeLoney has the listing.

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