A modest Logan Square chapel brought part way to single-family residence several years ago, and snatched up and completed to an exacting standard, has gone under contract two days after listing for $849,000. The seller is headed west for work, and the ravenous appetite for unique properties close to the Bloomingdale Trail (one block south and opening Saturday) has ensured there’s no drag on his flight out of town. Even in 2009 this kind of place was a hard get. “My client’s intent from the start was to buy a church and rehab it,” says listing agent Debra Secher of @properties. “We had to do some digging. There weren’t a lot of right-sized churches on the market.”

Most church-to-residential conversions in Chicago go the condo route. They’re usually too large for one household and there’s more money in multi-unit for a developer. At 3,400 square feet, this one is uncommonly suited to single-family. The previous owner put the important things in place: plumbing, electrical, windows, and zoned HVAC, as well as tuckpointing and a new roof. It didn’t come with the astounding fixtures and finishings that make eye candy of the home today, and it had one less bedroom.

The seller extended the second floor enough for a proper master suite while maintaining the 25-foot cathedral ceiling in the front of the house. He also improved the basement’s family room and bedroom (it’s close to being a legal unit, and it’s definitely a fine suite), installed an adorable library in the old organ loft, put in porcelain tile and wide plank oak flooring, and built an extravagant almost-commercial-grade kitchen with top appliances and compressed paper countertops in an epoxy sealant.

A custom staircase with decorative steel handrails—very hard to make—wends its way past the library loft and landing to a pair of bedrooms that close in on the skylight-pocked sloping roofline. 

The home has great natural lighting thanks to its corner lot and huge west- and south-facing windows. “It never gets gloomy in here,” Secher says. To improve curb appeal, the seller gave the Cortland façade a blue-gray paint coat while letting the tan brick show through on the other faces. He also successfully lobbied for a curb cut to allow construction of a side-lot garage. The gated yard wraps around it, partially sheltered by pergola.

At Cortland and Albany, one block west of the church, a 2013 three-bed listed for $650,000 got a contract in 16 days and closed at full asking last week. Just across Humboldt Boulevard, a four-bedroom new-build also priced at $650,000 found a buyer in a day in the dead of winter. And on California Avenue at the trail, six condos have sold in the past six months in a brand new 18-unit project—four two-beds at $350,000 to $400,000, and a couple of three-beds for $530,000 apiece. As I observed in April, houses and small condo and town home developments are filling in newly prime lots within a couple blocks of the trail through Logan Square and Humboldt Park.

For a jolting picture of the area’s trajectory, look no further than the church residence. The seller purchased the incomplete conversion for $495,000 and listed it Saturday for $849,000 with immediate showings. It drew multiple bids and went under contract Monday.