The 2008 condo conversion of the century-old Citizen’s State Bank at Ashland and Melrose Avenues produced nine above-average loft spaces, some neatly burrowed into the neoclassical façade and others breaking free in sharp geometries. “One of the themes of the construction was a marriage of classical and contemporary architecture, where the old was salvageable,” says developer Robin Solomon of Gary Solomon & Company. The eastern Lincoln Avenue façade was pretty much ruined, so Solomon and sister Jill, also serving as listing agent for the building, took the opportunity to send window bays jutting out from the building envelope.
This is where you’ll find a newly listed two-bedroom duplex, flaunting its 18-foot ceilings and dramatic window wall. The place rented for around $3,500 a month, but now it’s on the market with two other units—both under contract. The units are asking between $499,000 and $525,000.
Every unit is a different shape with completely different finishes, and the featured duplex is extremely impressive. The limestone floor, concrete ceiling and pillars, and exposed brick offer an array of textures; a polished pocket kitchen hunkers beneath the master bedroom’s balcony with an expansive island. A fireplace cozies up to the angular first floor balcony and floating stairs, custom built with stained oak, leads to the lofted master suite.
The master delivers the most hard-edged industrial environment owing to the closeness of the grooved concrete ceiling and a touch of exposed ductwork. It also has some bizarre angles to negotiate in positioning a bed and dresser. The second bedroom also has an en-suite and a walk-in and a conventional appeal with exposed brick. It’s also more squared off. I don’t think many would pick it as the master, though, given its main floor location by the front door.
Ceilings on the Lincoln Avenue side of the building reach 18’ on floors 3-5 but slope down to 14’ at the back of the building. This means that only a few of the units were able to be duplexed. So, while today’s property isn’t the largest space in the building (that honor goes to the 2,500 square-foot penthouse with wraparound roof deck), its layout is louder than most.
Price Points: Three of the building’s units were presold in March 2008, just before the real estate crash. From that point on, Robin and Jill did what sensible developers do: they weathered the storm by banking the unsold units for several years, collecting decent, stable rents. “As leases came up we considered the market for sales on a case-by-case basis,” says Jill. “We didn’t want to kick out young families.” They were also keyed in to interest rates, and were sure to get units back on the market while rates were still low. A fourth unit sold in May 2013, there are those two under contract, one more about to list, and the final one teed up for a spring listing.
One more selling point: a homeowner assessment that’s particularly low for a 2,000 square-foot condo, at $347 a month.
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