Townhouses are traditionally a single-family home whose walls border neighboring units, often part of a larger multi-building complex. That also means you might have to deal with a homeowner association and its dreaded fees. And yes, you are going to have one or more attached walls with your next-door neighbors, meaning less natural light and more noise. But what you do get is your own entrance and sometimes your own outdoor space, plus you become part of a close-knit community. If you’re lucky, you may also have the chance to live in a building of architectural or historical significance, like the city’s first designated historic district Alta Vista Terrace. Chicago has plenty of townhouses, including the following properties that are currently for sale.
You’ll never guess what’s behind the facade of this London-inspired townhouse in Lakeview. Inspired by a trip to Europe, real estate developer Samuel Eberly Gross created a block-long street known as Alta Vista Terrace with twenty rowhouses of various colors, styles, and rooflines located on each side. The designs mirror each other diagonally. A previous owner gutted the interior of this 1904 home, implementing artistic touches like a Moroccan-inspired loft bedroom with a keyhole-shaped doorway and a mural of the Morton Salt girl in the two-story foyer. Another Alta Vista townhome is on Airbnb, so this property presents a great investment opportunity for anyone interested. Tourists are always looking to stay in an Instagram-worthy building while also being close to public transportation and attractions like Wrigley Field. And here’s one more home on the street that’s currently contingent.
Inspired by 18th century English terraces, modernist townhouses designed by prominent architects I.M. Pei and Harry Weese are grouped together around Harper Avenue between 55th and 57th Streets in Hyde Park. It is a unified and symmetrical design with ribbons of windows and recessed entrances. The buildings aren’t only distinctive architecturally, but serve as reminders of the urban renewal period when blocks of this neighborhood were cleared in the 1950s and 60s. The floor plan of these townhomes work effectively for families with a well-connected ground level that includes an eat-in kitchen opening up directly to the private rear patio. There is more outdoor space in the shared courtyard that includes a playground.
The Seminary Townhouse Association was formed in 1974 to save and buy the 1880s brick rowhouses built around the McCormick Theological Seminary when it moved to Hyde Park. Now located in the middle of DePaul University’s campus, covenants are in place to protect the historic buildings’ exteriors as well as public areas like the private park at the center of the townhomes. Residents ice skate in the space at wintertime or host parties during the summer. Although updated inside, this particular rowhouse still has original details like stained glass windows and decorative fireplace mantelpieces. The large kitchen with window-lined breakfast room looks over a landscaped backyard. Another one of the landmarked McCormick rowhouses is also currently on the market.
Over the last decade, the West Loop has experienced a building boom with brand-new condo buildings reshaping the area and its skyline. But you can still find older developments here — and by old I mean 1999. Carmichael Place is a group of 34 modern three-story townhouses that looks historic with their covered front porches facing a tree-lined courtyard. But they’re perfect for modern living with plenty of outdoor space. Besides the enclosed front porch, there is a balcony off the kitchen and the family room opens up to a walkout rooftop deck. Plus, you’re walking distance from all the neighborhood now has to offer with luxury shops, the strip of eateries dubbed Restaurant Row, and Bartelme Park.
I saved the best for last with this incredible corner residence, one of nineteen townhouses in the Riverview East development right next to the Chicago River. It’s rare to see these homes on the market and you can see why, with a beautiful, spacious interior, dramatic ceiling heights, and designer finishes. The unit has a stunning chef’s kitchen as well as four bedrooms, including a primary suite on its own floor with a lake-facing balcony. You can also take in views of Streeterville, Navy Pier, and the Ogden Slip from the ample fourth floor rooftop deck. You also have access to the amenities of the neighboring condo building, such as an indoor pool, fitness center, and yoga studio.