This Modern 4-Bedroom SFH Is Being Built Everywhere on the West Side: Is It Good or Bad?

We first started chattering about this modern new construction single family home, being marketed by North Clybourn Group, at 1214 N. Rockwell in the East Humboldt Park neighborhood, in November 2010.

See our prior chatter here.

Back then, some of you were into it. After all it was a new construction house that was listed for anywhere from $350,000 to $450,000 (depending on location.)

That’s the price of a condo in most areas and this was a HOUSE.

The developers have been buying up foreclosed properties in West Town, Logan Square, Avondale and Humboldt Park neighborhoods and building new.

One of these houses was even featured on an episode of House Hunters and despite the buyers wanting to be close to restaurants and shops, they couldn’t resist purchasing it in a neighborhood that wasn’t their first choice, because it was a HOUSE.

Since November 2010, there have been many more of these built.

But recently, I’ve seen even more of them around town.

Here’s a few:

 

1807 W. Wabansia in the heart of Bucktown

  •  I couldn’t even find an old listing for this one. Perhaps it wasn’t ever listed.
  • But it looks like it sold in July 2011 for $550,000 (among the most expensive price points I’ve seen.)

 

2026 N. Point in Logan Square: The listing says it sold “before print.” 

  • Sold in November 2011 for $439,426
  • On an irregular 80x105x70 lot (see above)
  • I wish I would have taken a better picture- but due to the lot size, the front is long and rectangular (I only have half of the front in the picture above.)

 

 

2028 N. Point in Logan Square: Curently pending but being used as a “model” for others in the neighborhood

  • Listed at $419,000

 

2120 N. Bingham in Logan Square: Just two blocks east of the North Point street houses.

  • Currently listed for $399,000
  • There look to be two lots here- so maybe two houses?
  • Obviously under construction
  • See the pictures here (although they use the same pictures for every house)

2967 W. Nelson in Avondale

  • Was listed in August 2011 for $349,000
  • Just pulled off the market
  • See the pictures here

2965 W. Nelson in Avondale

  • Was listed for $339,000
  • Now off the market

Is it good, or bad, for these neighborhoods to have what is, essentially, the same house being built over and over again on multiple nearby blocks (sometimes right next to each other)?

Is this akin to the building of the bungalows, all of which looked similar and served a purpose as starter homes, in the last century?

There is clearly demand for single family homes that are “new” in these neighborhoods. Why aren’t other developers doing it?

Bonus points to whomever can list the most addresses with this same house. I’m sure there are a bunch more out there currently on the market.

 

73 Responses to “This Modern 4-Bedroom SFH Is Being Built Everywhere on the West Side: Is It Good or Bad?”

  1. I think they’re building another of these in the 3900 block of north kedvale. The structure is still just a frame but it looks similar to these; and even as a frame, it looks out of character for a neighborhood full of victorians and arts and crafts.

    I say build these everywhere. Let the prices for new constructoin come crashing down to the common man, in the city, rather than the exurbs.

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  2. 3001 N. Christiana
    2924 N. Washtenaw
    2922 N. Washtenaw
    1711 N. Talman
    743 N. Elizabeth
    2706 W. Francis
    519 N. Oakley
    910 N. Richmond

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  3. Jim in the Sloop on February 14th, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I don’t find this objectionable. It would be horrible to see them all lined up next to each other on a single block, but as infill they’re modern and have clean lines – too bad they didn’t do something to the side that faces the alley, that’s a bit grim. But, you’re getting a lot of space, with a yard and a garage.

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  4. Sabrina, what were the purchase prices for these lots/tear downs? I would be interested to see the previous sale date, price, whether or not there was demo required (tear down or empty lot) and the eventual sale date and price… it would be a good start towards estimating how much of a profit this developer is getting on each home. From there we might be able to get an answer as to why other people might not be doing this… it might be a relatively small profit for the risk associated with trying to build and sell new in this environment.

    As to whether or not having the same house is a bad thing, I dont really see this as any different from the multitude of duplicate 3 flats built in the 2000’s that we see everywhere – and I dont find the overall look unappealing. Plus, the relatively bland facade affords opportunities to the buyers to make quick changes to the wood color etc should they decide to want to differentiate from other similar homes in the city.

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  5. We recently purchased a home in Logan Square that was built in 1903. When we walked around the neighborhood, we realized that almost every other house was built on an identical plan. Most of the other houses were also more or less identical on a different plan! I wonder if this is any different.

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  6. I am not a fan personally, but I’m not going to hate on them either. The developer certainly has an equation that is working for him in this down market. And from the looks of your last pic they are built on site and not trucked in like a double-wide as I once suspected!

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  7. Its no different that neighborhoods full of bungalows, 50s ranches or even two flat greystones. Each were the affordable, easy to build option of their generation that allowed the common man to own their little slice of Americana.

    The only problem I have with it is the possibility that the foreclosed properties they are being built in place of may have warranted a rehab instead… preserving the character of the neighborhoods. I would love to see these homes populate the numerous vacant lots of the West Side… but unfortunately these developers have easy money in their sights and aren’t going to stray from it.

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  8. New, Affordable and energy efficient housing is a very good thing. Not everyone wants vintage, and not everyone wants some huge mcmansion they have to pay hundreds of dollars a month to AC/Heat.. Yeah it will probably look like crap in 30 years (like some similar architecture built in the 60’s), but who cares, knock it down and build something new, its more than likely you’re not gonna be living in it you’re whole life

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  9. I like the contemporary styling, and in the past when I’ve seen contemporary houses alongside older-style homes, I personally don’t think they look bad or out of place.

    However, when buying a place like this, I would also value having a unique home (not cookie-cutter).

    So if they are going to be building one these within 3-4 blocks of another one, they should attempt to vary the exterior appearance to be at least somewhat different, even if in a somewhat superficial way.

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  10. I think they look ok. I hope they just don’t age badly like some of the 4+1s and other infill stuff I’ve seen in some areas. There is obviously demand for new affordable single family housing and this is about as good as it gets in the Greenzone (although I think most would say these aren’t really in the Greenzone).

    I just hope the buyers aren’t regretting it in 5 or so years when kids come along. I’d suspect most of the buyers are newly married couples with no kids. Lack of school options could hurt the appeal of these places in the future. I’m sure a new SF in an off the beaten path location (but not that far off) looks way more appealing than a cramped 2/2 condo or even 3/2 in the heart of the GZ. However, we know buyers aren’t great about looking into the future…

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  11. Green building is great, but these do seem to stress the “temporary” in contemporary.

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  12. …just saw another thing I have a problem with… how many of these homes actually have front entrances? In almost every single instance (with the exception of the Point Street property), they are all side loading. I don’t get it, do builders think that no one wants a front door anymore?

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  13. If these new construction sell at or near ask, it’s very good for the neighborhoods because an empty lot or vacant property has been replaced with a move-in ready home. It also increases the comps for the other homes on the block because we all know the comp system compares apples to oranges and gives everyone lemons.

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  14. Man, we’re hard up for relevant threads lately, do this mean that the market is turning :-)?

    Anyways, is it a bad thing? If you take the number of houses this style being built and divide by all the other styles in a 5 block radius, do you get even 5%? How about on a per neighborhood basis? Even 1%? And if people are buying them, does that mean they’re more desirable and priced correctly? Does that mean that they’re not building enough? I guess it depends on if you’re a housing-hipster super bear or not.

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  15. Here’s (a) the winning list of where these are, and (b) the most comprehensive info about them, including prices for specific upgrades: (NOTE: biggish pdf):

    http://smartchicagohomes.com/homes/pdf%20brochure/SmartTech%20Homes%20Brochure%2002-03-12.pdf

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  16. We toured the model home on Point at an open house last weekend. I walked away much more impressed than I initially was from the pictures.

    Its a great layout with thoughtful finishes. On top of that, you’re getting a great price for a new, modern home that is incredibly energy efficient. Per the agent, gas bills in winter for this home will be about half what I currently pay for a 2/2 condo (and all receive an energy audit during final inspection). While some aspects of this will seem dated in 10 years, it made all the other homes/condos I viewed this weekend look dated now.

    BTW, the Open House was packed, I think its fair to say we’ll see quite a few more of these the next few years. I don’t know if we will end up going this route, as this will be the high end of our price range in a less desirable neighborhood, but it definitely changed my perspective.

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  17. “gas bills in winter for this home will be about half what I currently pay for a 2/2 condo”

    How much is that? Ballpark–$200? $300? $50??

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  18. 1807 W Wabansia:

    http://www.redfin.com/IL/Chicago/1807-W-Wabansia-Ave-60622/unit-2/home/13355208

    Prior sale was $220,000.

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  19. 2026 N. Point has a front door and looks slightly wider than the rest of the homes? or am I crazy

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  20. This is one right by me, definitely beats the old crap shack. Only criticism would be they seem pretty anti-social due to not having a front entrance/stoop. The sides are pretty mournful as well, which is more of an aesthetic thing when (like the one below) they are on a corner.

    All that said, I agree with Sonies – energy efficient, attractive enough (far superior to cinder block condos), and it’s good to see people working again.

    “3001 N. Christiana”

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  21. “The sides are pretty mournful as well”

    Upgrade to 6″ Hardy Plank is only $2,500. They really should have done it on that one, as it would look so much better and provide an easy to see example of the upgrade.

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  22. How is the quality of the construction?

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  23. How much is the upgrade to 100% brick?

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  24. @ anon TFO – around $50-60. My last gas bill was $120.

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  25. “KS (February 14, 2012, 12:39 pm)
    How is the quality of the construction?”

    I checked out the first property (Rockwell) when it first came on the market. The work itself looked OK, however, material choices were clearly low budget.

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  26. You guys are so fickle – in the 80s and 90s everyone thought the cinderblock/brick front multifamily buildings that were being built all over Lincoln park/lakeview, etc. were SOOOO beautiful and nice and now everyone hates them. Same thing about these buildings – everyone loooooves them now – but just wait and see what these same lovers are saying in 10 years. Unbelievable!!

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  27. ” in the 80s and 90s everyone thought the cinderblock/brick front multifamily buildings … were SOOOO beautiful and nice ”

    Proving again that you know an odd group of people. A few of them are genuinely nice looking; most of them are repetitive crap.

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  28. says “2,400 sf”

    Does this include the basement? therefore 800 sf floorplates?

    or 2 x 1,200 sf above grade (not incl. basement)?

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  29. How much can someone buy existing plans from a local architect? Let’s say you drive by a house, you like it, then you find out who the architect was, and you want the exact same plans. The architect has to do no work, other than print them again of his computer system. How much? anyone know? Does it work like this?

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  30. JM: “around $50-60. My last gas bill was $120.”

    Thanks. That is cheap.

    Tankless water heater will make a meaningful difference. Flow rate, with cold-winter water supply, looks to be a bit marginal for 2 simultaneous uses, and a no go for three (ie, two showers, plus single tap use at one time) without a possible 20 deg drop in hot water temp.

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  31. “Does this include the basement? therefore 800 sf floorplates?”

    Floorplan in brochure link. ~20×44 footprint.

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  32. “Proving again that you know an odd group of people. A few of them are genuinely nice looking; most of them are repetitive crap.”

    uhhh – kind of like these pieces of crap….. and wtf are you talking about “repetitive” – did you see the pictures of the places on this thread? That IS the definition of repetitive AND ugly.

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  33. I looked at one in Humboldt last year before buying a condo. I liked the modern design, layout, space for the price and customization/upgrades offered. I question whether these homes are built well, will age well and if the LEED certification claims are 100% true.

    When it came down to my purchase, I decided not to bet on southeastern Humboldt.

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  34. What anon said. Clio seems a bit confused about the situation here. Who on earth ever said those cinder block buildings were beautiful? They were functional, just like these.

    The difference is many beautiful buildings were being torn down in Lake View & Lincoln Park to put up those larger cinder block monstrosities (an orange-rated greystone on the 800 block of W. Oakdale comes to mind), while these are largely going on empty lots or replacing housing so substandard even homeless people won’t squat in it.

    “” in the 80s and 90s everyone thought the cinderblock/brick front multifamily buildings … were SOOOO beautiful and nice ”

    Proving again that you know an odd group of people. A few of them are genuinely nice looking; most of them are repetitive crap.

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  35. “uhhh – kind of like these pieces of crap”

    Who said these are attractive? Many commetns of “ok” or “don’t hate”, but no one saying that they are “beautiful”, much less “SOOOO beautiful and nice”. And there are repeated concerns about the repetition.

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  36. If you’re interested in energy-efficient homes in Chicago, check out http://delafleur.com/blog/. Marcus and his wife are urban pioneering in west Douglas Park and are attempting to build a “zero-energy home.” Marcus is an anal German guy who is doing all of the research and much of the work himself, and has been publishing everything he’s been finding out on his blog: pretty interesting stuff.
    I’ve visited his place, and it’s going to be pretty awesome when complete. But this neighborhood is still pretty rough … way too much for GreenZoners to handle. But I think he bought the property for something like $60K or so.

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  37. you guys really are a bunch of losers. get a job (or a real one)

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  38. Stop projecting, CLIO

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  39. Check the addresses in Google Earth and most were former vacant lots.

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  40. I like it. The new bungalow. I have been hoping to see development move in a more sustainable (in an economic sense) direction like this for a while. I hope other developers pick up on the trend and then maybe we will see some slight variation in design, but generally speaking I like the modern infill concept. As some others have said, I see a lot of lots on the west side that would be prime for this type of structure. Fingers crossed that this might happen in ~10-20 years.

    P.S. Clio, you are a Grade-A Moron. These things aren’t designed to go in Lincoln Park anyway.

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  41. I love the way the developer is going about this business. The listings are almost always “Sold before print.” They are using the MLS as advertising. Pretty smart.

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  42. “you are a Grade-A Moron”

    When did he question eating meat?

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  43. “zero-energy home.”

    In Chicago? What’s it going to be an igloo?

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  44. Isn’t this a textbook scenario for what makes capitalism great?

    Everyone wins:
    Neighborhood/neighbors wins by replacing vacant lot
    County/City win by getting a property that generates much higher tax revenue
    Home owner wins by getting a new home at fair price
    Developer wins by making a tidy profit

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  45. people your are looking at the modern day bungalow

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  46. No, this is textbook for “supply creates its own demand,” with the supply being the land (that no capitalist actually created), and the demand being the timeless need for shelter.

    “Isn’t this a textbook scenario for what makes capitalism great? “

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  47. builder website: http://www.smarttechhomes.com/ststatic/index.html

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  48. “builder website”

    cc qualifies as “in the news”!

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  49. well my comments are kind of a big deal….

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  50. “How much can someone buy existing plans from a local architect? Let’s say you drive by a house, you like it, then you find out who the architect was, and you want the exact same plans. The architect has to do no work, other than print them again of his computer system. How much? anyone know? Does it work like this?” You can buy blueprints, but it usually needs to be adapted to the particular property.

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  51. DD – moreover, people who pay an architect to design a custom home usually have a contract that does not allow the architect to reuse the plan so that their custom home does not get duplicated.

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  52. I think it would be better if they were all in one row…. :)
    But really how about variations on a theme instead of all the same?

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  53. Urban Mommy: my comment was about buying blueprints from various sources that sell stock plans. I highly doubt that Krueck and Sexton, or Helmut Jahn would sell blueprints to the enterprising reader who asked. “The architectural firm will own the copyright to all works created by the employees acting within the scope of employment. This is true even absent an employment agreement explicitly limiting copyright ownership. Lastly, always be aware of what the owner-architect contract says about ownership of the copyright. Under standard AIA contracts the architect retains copyright ownership. When using non-AIA contacts one should always compare the copyright ownership clauses with those of the AIA contracts.
    see http://www.invention-protection.com/ip/publications/docs/Architecture_&_Copyright_Law.html

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  54. These are too expensive to be modern day bungalows. This is modern for upper middle classes in middle or working class neighborhoods. N

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  55. I kind of agree – I highly doubt the average factory worker was the one buying bungalows when they were brand new, but a few decades later those buildings were within reach of people who lived frugally and saved. The same thing will likely happen with these once the “new car smell” wears off, assuming they have been built to last and the materials aren’t schlocky.

    “These are too expensive to be modern day bungalows. This is modern for upper middle classes in middle or working class neighborhoods.”

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  56. Be wary of the finishes. I was in a few of the modern buildings in West Town, not these particular ones, where once the initial awe was over and started inspecting closer, I found Ikea cabinets, Ikea appliances, Undersized hot water heaters, vinyl windows, etc. The design is there, the concept great, but the execution on some of these newer constructions I dont trust. Who knows whats in the walls either. Maybe Im being hard on Ikea, but I dont see Ikea cabinets being anything more than flashy looking garbage.

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  57. The middle class bought bungalows. Not lower class factory workers.

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  58. Marcus here. Justin mentioned our project and the blog (http://delafleur.com/blog) – and commented on the ‘rough’ nature of the neighborhood.

    Looking from the outside in, that is what we thought too when we purchased the property and moved in. I have to admit that I was surprised how much you miss and don’t know when you “look in from the outside”. Since we moved in, we have developed a whole new appreciation and began to cherish this place and the neighborhood.

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  59. met the guy who bought one of these on house hunters, he likes it so far. also said house hunters was a pain, had to take off several days from work and they only received 500 bucks for their participation. claimed property virgins doles out 5k.

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  60. kind of reminds me of the ubiquitous halogen lamps from the 90’s
    http://homeandfamilyresourcecenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Halogen_Floor_Lamps.jpg

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  61. I also like these because you can really see how much a location alone is worth.

    1807 W. Wabansia – Sold for $550,000
    2452 W Cortland Ave – Sold for $450,000

    Assuming the houses are identical (sale dates are also 6 months apart) you can basically ascertain that a location in Bucktown is worth $100k more than East Humblepark.

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  62. List of recently closed homes:

    2858 Woodard $384,485
    1319 Artesian $403,250
    1634 Blackhawk $429,000
    2026 Point $439,426
    1448 Campbell $447,600
    2452 Cortland $450,465
    1949 Ohio $472,050
    1529 Pearson $474,113
    1626 Ohio $503,578
    2051 Whipple $526,932

    It is interesting to note that each of these sold at or above the asking price. I suspect buyers are selecting upgrades, since they are buying many of these from spec prior to construction.

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  63. “Assuming the houses are identical (sale dates are also 6 months apart) you can basically ascertain that a location in Bucktown is worth $100k more than East Humblepark.”

    dragons west o western

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  64. Nuance often escapes you, but yes, that’s what I said. So your contention is these homes are outside the range of today’s middle class, right?

    So first we need to define middle class in Chicago (I’ll just throw out a family income between $75 -150K to get the ball rolling), then we need to look at the interest rate and actual cost of a monthly nut on a 30 year note, then we need to define what a reasonable % of income to spend on housing is (30% more or less?).

    Complicating the equation are land costs, as B mentioned. These homes are varying WILDLY depending on location.

    That leads me to conclude it’s not the housing itself that either is or isn’t in or out of reach for the middle class, it’s the combination of new housing + a given tract of land.

    Given that there are bungalows all over Chicago, I would agree this housing template seems poised to become the modern equivalent of the bungalow, which as we both agree, would have been geared towards middle (and upper) class families.

    “The middle class bought bungalows. Not lower class factory workers.”

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  65. “That leads me to conclude it’s not the housing itself that either is or isn’t in or out of reach for the middle class, it’s the combination of new housing + a given tract of land.”

    Also, even at 2400 SF (yeahyeahyeah, livin large in the basement) these are *above average* size for new homes. Scale it down to a 1400 SF (make it smaller, leave the basement entirely raw) 1 bathroom place, and maybe you get something more comparable to the bungalows of yore–a ~$200k place, provided they’re built on almost-free lots.

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  66. 8 of these going up in a row across from Gordon Tech. Here’s one:

    http://www.redfin.com/IL/Chicago/3618-N-California-Ave-60618/home/45447228

    look to be doing a little facade variety, so not a row of 8 *identical* houses.

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  67. “8 of these going up in a row across from Gordon Tech”

    Drove by these the other day. Asked my wife if those were the leed models going in. She stared at me like I was crazy and I realized she wasn’t conversant in CC speak (or she was keeping a good poker face).

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  68. HOT DOUGS!

    nice rec center too

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  69. The construction of these homes is extremely cheap-o

    No way in hell i’d pay 500k+ to live in one of these across the street from a high school

    Guarantee these will be leaking like the split face block mc-crapboxes that went up like wildfire in 2000-2007

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  70. gringozecarioca on May 14th, 2013 at 10:00 am

    “No way in hell i’d pay 500k+ to live in one of these across the street from a high school”

    I would think living across from a high school would trade at premium..

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  71. And a walking distance target. Parks too. What’s not to like?

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  72. “I would think living across from a high school would trade at premium..”

    I have a “thing” about roving bands of teenagers… they are always up to no good!

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  73. “I have a “thing” about roving bands of teenagers… they are always up to no good!”

    and bouncing balls, and occasionally hiding in trees or shrubbery.

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