The Gaertner Building at Racine and Wrightwood in Lincoln Park was once a scientific and astronomical instrument factory. It was best known for pioneering the ellipsometer. Originally built in 1923 by architects Schmidt, Garden & Martin, the historic structure was converted into 24 condos exactly 20 years ago. An elevator building with attached garage parking, this particular pricey unit comes with an open-concept living/dining area, glass blocks, and exposed brickwork. Currently contingent, the property fits today’s current trends with its gourmet gray kitchen with white quartz countertops, black-painted ductwork, and bathroom with double sinks and soaking tub. The communal rooftop deck comes with great city views.
Originally built for the Columbian Colortype Company in 1923, famed architect Alfred S. Alschuler created a terra-cotta and brick structure with flat-slab concrete to reduce vibration and noise. It then became a factory for the Revere Camera Company, which employed 1,500 workers producing movie cameras, electric drills, tape recorders, and other electronics. The building was adaptively reused in 2007 and renamed Chess Lofts, paying homage to when it served as the final headquarters of the legendary Chess Records. The 12-foot-high concrete ceilings help make this 850-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo feel larger and brighter. Its balcony overlooks Prairie District Park and the growing South Loop.
In Roscoe Village, this 1920 building now called Pencil Factory Lofts once housed a number of different companies. Eversharp created the first mechanical pencil, while Green Duck was a major producer of campaign buttons. The Twinplex Manufacturing Company, maker of razor blade sharpeners, still exists today in suburban Wood Dale. Renovated in the late 1980s by Robert Finnegan and his partner Calvin Boedner, the former factory now has 139 residential units with a heated parking garage and shared rooftop deck. This two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo’s open-concept plan has been fully updated, and it’s close to public transit and all that Roscoe Village has to offer.
Once upon a time the Florsheim Shoe Company manufactured millions of pairs of shoes in this former plant in Avondale, built between 1924-26 by architect Alfred S. Alschuler. By 1966, a pair of Florsheim shoes was supposedly sold every four seconds in the U.S. Twenty years later, Florsheim moved most of its production overseas, shutting down this factory, which has taken on a new life as Shoemakers Lofts. Dubin Residential converted it into 184 units in 2005-06. Chicago’s industrial past endures in this two-bedroom, two-bathroom loft full of natural light, from the nine-foot-high windows and 14-foot concrete ceilings. It’s just a mile away from the shopping and eating establishments of both Logan Square and Old Irving Park.
The former Kennedy-Nabisco bakery plant in the West Loop dating back to 1884 is now home to multi-million-dollar condos, including this three-bedroom, four-bathroom corner unit. Before the West Loop exploded in popularity, this structure was converted to loft condos in the mid-1990s. Today, much of the original architecture remains intact with exposed steel trusses and 28-foot ceilings. The domed brick ceiling of this penthouse’s kitchen used to house Nabisco’s ovens where the scent of fresh baked goods would fill the air. The multi-level space is expansive yet cozy. The layout is versatile with bathrooms on each floor, making it possible to create some privacy away from visiting guests. The family room opens up to a wood deck with spectacular views of the city skyline. It’s like a private urban oasis away from all the hustle and bustle of the fashionable Fulton Market.