Is This Your Last Chance to Build New in Old Town’s Landmark District? 1810 N. Orleans

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This house at 1810 N. Orleans in Old Town’s historic landmark district came on the market in August 2016.

It’s being marketed as a chance to build new.

From the listing:

One of the Last Opportunities to build your DREAM HOME in Old Town!!!

The listing says the white and green house was built in 1886.

It’s on a 36×124 lot on one of the most exclusive streets in the Old Town historic district.

According to the listing it is zoned RM5 with alley access.

It seems to be a dream come true, right? A big lot right in the middle of Old Town.

But there’s one little catch. From the listing:

Due to Old Town Association guidelines and Landmark status, the structure on the back of the lot will most likely have to remain with some of the front area/enclosed porch allowed to be altered. All indications are there previously was a home on the front portion of the lot thus possibly establishing precedence. Buyer will have to do the due diligence. Seller does not warrant the feasibility of a newly built structure. Build your dream home in Chicago’s Prestigious Old Town Triangle!

Here’s what the Old Town Association says on its website:

Each month, members consider requests for proposed exterior changes to existing buildings, new construction, and applications for zoning changes in the Triangle. Their deliberations range from the appropriateness of building materials used in rehabbing and construction projects to the height of fences and building additions. The Guidelines for Alterations to Historic Buildings and New Construction, prepared by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, serves as the guide for their recommendations. These recommendations are sent to the Alderman of the 43rd Ward and to appropriate city commissions and departments for approval. In every instance, the final decision on any rehab project rests with the Landmarks Commission.

This property is listed at $3.2 million.

Given that the back house/structure most likely has to stay, and the other issues with building in a landmark district, will they get this price?

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Debbie Maue at Jameson Sotheby’s has the listing. See the pictures here (only shows the exterior of the house)

1810 N. Orleans: built in 1886

  • Last sold in or before 1995. A $78,500 mortgage was taken out in 1995.
  • Currently listed for $3.2 million
  • Taxes of $21,668
  • 36×124 lot in a historic district

22 Responses to “Is This Your Last Chance to Build New in Old Town’s Landmark District? 1810 N. Orleans”

  1. Unless the Alderman of the 43 ward owes you some favors, I’d pass

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  2. Well if the current owner thinks it’s worth $3.2 MM then I think that’s a great opportunity for Joe Berrios to raise the tax valuation from the current $1.2 MM.

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  3. I get to pay $3.2 million and $21,668 in taxes AND I don’t get to do whatever I want unless the Old Town Association is feeling benevolent!

    where do I sign up!

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  4. The Old Town Association should buy this property and turn it into a community park or some such.

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  5. this is a real knee slapper of a laugh right here

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  6. Is this an April Fool’s joke? Wait, its not April.

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  7. Does anyone know the story of the property just next door to the North of this one? On google street view, it’s screened out (I’ve never seen that before!) and from aerial view it’s labelled as “Mike’s tent”

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  8. @JAH

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/07/remove-google-street-view_n_5563939.html

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  9. @JAH: Try Bing Maps. Not “screened out” there.

    I have a few theories on this crazy ask…Could be a situation where someone needs to transition to assisted living of some sort and needs money for one of the better facilities….. or the heirs of an estate skipped the appraisal process altogether ….. or the executor knows that there will be much bickering over the actual sale price if he/she doesn’t first list it at a pie in the sky level so that the heirs can see that it is in fact not going to sell for the amount that would solve everyone in the families’ financial woes.

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  10. @icarus. thanks. maybe I’m the last to know that you can screen out your house on Google street view!

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  11. “a few theories on this crazy ask”

    related to that:

    in 2013, taxes had the HO exemption, the Senior exemption and the senior freeze.

    in 2014, taxes had the HO exemption, and the Senior exemption, implying an increased income over the $55k cutoff.

    in 2015, there were no exemptions. so maybe someone moved?

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  12. Insane. This place is fugly and would cost some serious $$ just to rehab the existing structure which is in disrepair. A super cute 1br house sold on Menomonee in 2015 for $785k. After fixing this place and re-doing the garden this place would probably be worth $1.25mm ish – maybe $1.5mm to the right person. So need to deduct the cost to renovate and discount that for the pain of renovation and you get to something like $1mm. I think the best use is for a neighboring property to buy it – fix up the existing structure and rent it out while keeping the garden for their own use.
    IF (a huge IF) they can put a home in the front of the lot it will have to be historically accurate. This means you are stuck with whatever was there before even if it was ugly or would be expensive to build (like having ornate ironwork or stained glass).
    The OTT landmarks people have shot down plenty of reasonable requests in order to maintain continuity. They wouldn’t let one owner move from painted horizontal boards to vertical cedar clapboards even though it would have looked much better. This is what you get in a landmark area and I understand the predicament – can’t let even the smallest rule bend happen or everyone else will jump on it.
    Either way this ask is CRAZY.

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  13. “One of the Last Opportunities* to build* your* DREAM* HOME* in Old Town!!!”

    I would gladly pay $3.2 million* for this!

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  14. for this part of town, 36 x 124 is almost considered a double lot (18 x 124 lot). I’ve seen homes built on 15′-17′ wide lots. This is a great deal! it comes out to $1.6MM per lot! And you get a free cottage for the servants thrown in.
    The seller should first divide off the rear part of the lot with the cottage. Then just sell the front lot as a separate lot not subject to any historic preservation since it is an empty lot.

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  15. “This is a great deal! it comes out to $1.6MM per lot! And you get a free cottage for the servants thrown in.”

    The house south of this lot – also 36×124 sold 2.5 yrs ago for $1.9mm. That had a coach house and a regular house on the property. Care to amend your “great deal!” assessment?

    “The seller should first divide off the rear part of the lot with the cottage. Then just sell the front lot as a separate lot not subject to any historic preservation since it is an empty lot.”

    Hahahaha. You’d have better luck drugging the landmark commission prior to the hearing than doing this. And you’d still have to build the house on the front lot to match what was there before (if you can even prove there was something there). And then you’d be left with a coach house with a house in front of it (worth probably $600-750k) meaning you just paid $2.45mm for the front lot – tack on another $1mm to build a historically accurate place (probably way underestimating the cost) so you are left paying $3.5mm for a wide but short lot house. Oh wait! 1841 N Orleans sold 1 yr ago for $2.9mm and that was on a 36×124 lot with 3 car garage and side yard and completely redone and beautiful. Oh wait again! 1839 N Orleans sold 1.5 yrs ago for $1.6mm on a 36×125 lot and you don’t have to “prove” a house was there to build one – it already has a house! On an extra wide lot like the property we are discussing.

    I guess I was high on my first guess – after looking at the 3 places I just mentioned this is probably worth more like 1-1.25mm. Sticking with the most logical buyer being a neighbor to use the garden and rent out the coach house.

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  16. About the only play here is to buy it (for significantly less than the ask) and rent it out until it completely falls apart and has to be torn down due to the hazard.

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  17. “About the only play here is to buy it (for significantly less than the ask) and rent it out until it completely falls apart and has to be torn down due to the hazard.”

    That doesn’t really work in a landmark district though.

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  18. It would take an epic hero to successfully run through this approval gauntlet:

    -The Old Town Association
    -The Alderman of the 43rd Ward
    -The many appropriate city commissions
    -The many appropriate city departments
    -The Commission on Chicago Landmarks

    Someone really wants to charge this epic hero $3.2 million just for the chance?

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  19. @Sabrina

    Can the landmark commission actually compel you maintain the property, structurally speaking? Pretty sure the people that bought 322 W. Willow St had that gameplan and it worked out well for them.

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  20. “Can the landmark commission actually compel you maintain the property, structurally speaking? Pretty sure the people that bought 322 W. Willow St had that gameplan and it worked out well for them.”

    Did it?

    The Landmark Commission will still have a say as to what is built there. And it’s only because it was SO bad that the city ordered it torn down immediately.

    Also seems to me like the Commission might have learned something from the Willow house- and how they could not save it.

    https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20160725/old-town/despite-outcry-city-demolishes-127-year-old-landmark-cottage-old-town

    They’re unlikely to make the same mistake twice.

    They’re not going to let you just tear it down because you neglect it for years. In the Willow house- it literally stood unoccupied for 10 years.

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  21. So I know of this one case where these people got permission to do a major reconstruction project on a landmarked home. They were supposed to keep three walls – front and both sides of course. They had the home demolished except for those 3 walls. And then…the 3 walls fell down. I’m not sure of the details but the commission was suspicious of the circumstances surrounding that incident but what could they do at that point? There was a huge delay in the project as everyone had to rethink the plan but there was really only one solution: new construction, with some guidelines of course.

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  22. “So I know of this one case where these people got permission to do a major reconstruction project on a landmarked home.”

    In San Francisco, some developers simply bring in the equipment and demolish the building without permits before anyone can get there to stop them (landmarked or not landmarked.) Then, when they go up before the permitting procedure, they say, “whoops. Sorry. The house isn’t there any more.” And what do they do? Nothing.

    It’s awful.

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