The Cicero Hine Cottages, a quaint set of English-looking Queen Annes and Craftsmans, appear as a mirage on the 4100 blocks of Oakland’s Berkeley and Lake Park avenues. Hine was born and raised in England, so it makes total sense that a degree of foreign vernacular would infuse his work (not that he had much solo work; soon after this development he joined the Brunswick, Balke, Collender Company and began designing pool halls and bowling alleys). In recent years, most of the homes in the set of 26 have been gut-renovated and, as core contributors to the Oakland Historic Landmark District, their facades carefully restored.
Yes this new-to-market four-bed has incongruous cut-and-paste modern finishes, but that’s what a lot of buyers want. Most importantly, this is a rare chance to nab a charming oddity at a North Kenwood-Oakland price: $334,900.
Steve Setinc lives in Lombard and invests piecemeal in the Western suburbs, but recently began looking at flips in the area. His first was at 3412 South Prairie Avenue, an 1890s home that he gave a total gut. The Hine cottage is his second. It was discovered as an REO property at auction in respectable condition. A little bit of water damage was dealt with but there were no real structural issues. Contractors put in new hardwood floors, lighting, paint, granite counters, and doors. They also finished a half-completed basement build-out with carpeting and a wet bar, adding 800 square feet of living space to a small home. High-end kitchen appliances were all in place, whether added by the private owner prior to repossession or by the bank as a resale strategy.
One thing you don’t expect in a modest 130-year-old home is an open floor plan, with large conjoining living and dining areas. This is in fact how the layout was first conceived. Future alterations did something strange to the staircase—it forks toward the top, probably because a fourth bedroom was added to the back of the second floor decades ago and it couldn’t be squeezed into an already snug set of three. Its segregation makes it a perfect place to isolate a teen. Only the master bedroom has a closet and an en-suite bath; the other bedrooms are given armoires.
Price Points: Setinc paid $185,000 for the home at auction. Though the asking price has come up $149,000, it is a good bit lower than the average house on the block, including other Hine cottages with flashier finishes. One, also new to market with a two-car garage wedged into a side lot, is priced at $549,000. An investor bought it for $100,000 and, according to Setinc, put in about $300,000. “Sellers in the area are competing against a lot of rehabbed product,” says listing agent Rosie Gonzalez of Coldwell Banker. “Investors really need to be ready with cash and contractors.” Adds Setinc: “Some of the new investors are out of state. The problem is they’re not hands-on and work can lag or lapse.” There are also bigger operatives like Jacob da Builder rolling out new infill or historic rehab every month.
The home has been listed since February 12 with one offer that didn’t materialize. “The only issue we’ve had,” says Gonzalez, “is people saying they’re okay with no garage then coming over and saying ‘we really need a garage.’” The 43rd Street bus will take you the mile to the Green Line, Lakeshore Drive is two blocks east, and, for recreation, new pedestrian bridges to the trail and beach are going in at 35th, 41st, and 43rd streets.