North Center has been laying claim to its waterfront in recent years. Not the lakefront, but the slinking shoreline of the Chicago River's North Branch. Clark Park is a bigger boating destination thanks to a boathouse expansion by star architect Jeanne Gang, Horner Park is getting a restored riverfront ecosystem, and the east bank opposite Horner has a serene and newly surfaced local river walk. Fronting this little-known trail at Pensacola Avenue is a for-sale five-bedroom house on four oversized city lots.
The 1904 house originally belonged to a shipbuilder. A clearing east of the house was the shipyard. It’s the neighbor’s property now, but the remnant setback lets this house breathe on all sides. According to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, the seller (name withheld) has had the property since 1997, but, says KoenigRubloff listing agent Vicki Jones, she moved to the western suburbs 10 years ago. Funny enough, she now lives on a lake. Her tenants have been great, so she kept the home in the event of a return to the city. The stone pavers and the various tree and shrub plantings are hers, as is a two-story rear addition with the kitchen and master bedroom.
The addition is most notable for its wall of windows framing the double lot backyard and deck. A little grooming along the fence line would open up year-round views of the river, but the dense foliage does hide the home from trail users. Back inside, the kitchen could use updates and a possible expansion, but the rest of the house is very comfortable. The master bedroom has a long balcony, there’s a second smaller balcony, and there’s a living room, family room, and a finished basement hangout.
The east bank riverwalk that passes in front of the property runs from Montrose Avenue almost to Belle Plaine Avenue. Riverbank Neighbors was organized in the mid-1990s to clean up what was essentially a dump site. With the help of Waters Elementary, the Nature Conservancy, and other sympathetic groups, Riverbank Neighbors stripped away invasive overgrowth, planted native trees and shrubs, reinforced the riverbank, and built steps and paths for the nearly half-mile stretch.
For comparable properties in North Center/Lincoln Square, there really aren't any. The only one priced near $2.5 million is an ultra modern home on a single lot—a different animal entirely when compared to this home’s combined 150×150 riverfront parcel. The market will decide what it's worth.