Few homes more neatly convey the revival under way in Chicago’s Oakland neighborhood than this new 13-room house. It sits at the epicenter of territory once controlled by the notorious El Rukn gang, which plagued this South Side neighborhood-on the lakefront between 35th and 43rd streets-more than 20 years ago. Aided by the federal government, the city shut down the gang, seizing (in 1989) many of its properties and demolishing the structures standing there.
Flash forward to 2003, when Diann Bishop bought a string of those empty lots from the city with plans to build six homes for herself, her mother, and other relatives and friends. “We wanted houses like you have in the suburbs,” Bishop says, “but we didn’t want to leave the city.”
Bishop’s mother died before the houses were completed, and the group put this home up for sale. They listed it in March with Nancy Clark-McQueen of Associate Brokers. This past April it was bought by Katherine and Damon Phillips, business school professors (she’s at Northwestern; he’s at the University of Chicago) looking, says Katherine, to cut down their “hairy split commute.” What’s more, her father grew up about a block away from this site in the 1950s. “For me,” says Katherine,”it’s coming full circle.”
Photograph: Chris Guillen