Empty Homes Everywhere: 559 W. Arlington in Lincoln Park

We’ve chattered about the empty McMansion phenomena before.

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This new construction 6-bedroom home at 559 W. Arlington in Lincoln Park hasn’t found a buyer in several years.  (Thanks to the tipster who sent me info on this property.)

We chatter about a condo glut, what about a new construction McMansion glut?

Here’s the listing:

Extraordinary new 2007 home on 175′ deep lot in East Lincoln Park, NOT one of the routine homes you are seeing! 6800 SF home is better than custom!

With 6 BRs, 6-1/2 Baths, elevator to all floors, 70’x25′ superb Garden, unparalleled finishes, Christopher Peacock Kitchen, Brkfst Rm, 5anduot; walnut floors, Library, brick & limestone all masonry exterior, custom millwork throughout, 3 fireplaces. Purchaser can move right in!

There’s an Open House today from 11 am to 1 pm– if anyone is interested in checking it out.

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Janet Owen at Sudler Sotheby’s has the listing. See more pictures and a virtual tour here.

559 W. Arlington: 6 bedrooms, 6.5 baths, 6,860 square feet, 2.5 car garage

  • Originally listed in June 2004 for $3.4 million (presumably while under construction?)
  • Withdrawn from the market in October 2005
  • Re-listed in December 2005 for $3.85 million
  • Withdrawn from the market in October 2006 still listed at $3.85 million
  • Re-listed in November 2007 for $4.375 million
  • Reduced several times
  • Currently listed at $3.495 million
  • Taxes are “new”

37 Responses to “Empty Homes Everywhere: 559 W. Arlington in Lincoln Park”

  1. I should know this already, but why do you call them McMansions?

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  2. Because they’re not really mansions; they’re supersized fake mansions, just like McDonalds is supersized fake food.

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  3. It’s interesting because there is a whole bunch of info out there on the definition of McMansion which usually places them in the far out suburbs.

    So maybe I should stop using the term for the city!

    Let’s just call them empty mansions then.

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  4. Yes- it’s a take on McDonalds actually (originally was supposed to designate “mass produced”).

    Most custom homes would not be McMansions, then, by the original definition. Just “mansions.”

    Either way- there are dozens of these houses sitting empty (some for two to three years) in Lakeview and Lincoln Park.

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  5. The interesting thing on this place is that it has NEVER sold, even in the peak of the market. I wonder if the pictures look nice, but the layout/build quality are poor. Back in 2005 someone would have bought this place, so it is a little suspect in my book.

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  6. I agree with Jason… No way this could have sailed through the height of the market unsold with out some sort of deficiency.

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  7. i suspect it’s because they came to market just as the in home elevator craze gave way to the in home escalator trend.

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  8. One deficiency I see already: no foyer. And the fireplace is built right next to the front door–where the foyer should be. Rich people don’t want the cold air from the outside blowing straight into their living room (not to mention people being able to see INTO the living room from the street–yet another purpose served by a foyer). Even less do they want to sit on a couch next to a roaring fireplace–three feet from the front door. It’s just about the stupidest layout I’ve ever seen, and there’s no way someone would pay millions for it.

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  9. Ken… maybe they get a transplant from Brooklyn Heights. All the old stuff is built without the foyer. Even in a good market moving a 3.5 mil house is no treat. Homebuyers are much more particular than condo buyers at that price point (IMHO). The fireplace positioning is definitely a WTF!!!

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  10. I wonder if the builder is from the South. The no-foyer layout is common over there.

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  11. wow, the photos on the sudler site make it look much much wider than the photos posted here.

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  12. I agree that the layout of the main room is exceedingly dumb, but consider, also, the context of the building. Arlington on the west side of Clark is a decent enough street–there are a few beautiful townhouses and converted graystones–but it’s primarily student and young adult rentals. At one end of the block is Mickey’s, the noisiest college d-bag patio bar in the neighborhood. On the other side of Geneva Terrace is an international hostel, so you have polyglot groups of kids woohooing up and down the block at all hours.

    At least 559 is in scale with the buildings around it and is set back from the sidewalk, but, really, it’s too would-be grand, too pretentious. More than three million to live next to partying college boys in $750 studios? No thanks.

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  13. $1mm for the lot, with the initial mortgage only being for $500k (altho since modified 4 times). Someone (probably) has a lot of cash tied up in this.

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  14. what? its not selling? raise the price 1 mil, that will show those stubborn buyers.

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  15. Contrary to the description in the ad, this house is fantastically ordinary. Great location though, I love this block. And I think the McMansion term applies to city homes as well as suburban homes. Mass produced, spec houses up to the lot line (in the city at least) where the architecture mimics the true mansions of a hundred years ago, but the quality of materials, qualifies as a McMansion to me.

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  16. “but the quality of materials does not”

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  17. David (the first one) on September 9th, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Yeah, it replaced a nice Victorian rowhome that was much more aesthetically pleasing, stylistically coherent, and contextually consistent with the block. The builder might have been more successful with a gut rehab. I’m no (R)ealtor, but my hunch tells me that a prospective buyer for a luxurious Lincoln Park rowhome/townhouse would be more wowed and moved by perfectly restored/replicated vintage beauty than the faux-“neo-eclectic” (to put it charitably) Mundane McMansion crap.

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  18. I totally agree with the comments about the lack of foyer and narrow layout of the living room with a fireplace in your lap. However, I have to say there’s a chance we’re being too hard on the quality of construction and architecture of these homes. Can someone please give me an example of just one new construction single family home in the city that meets your standards and will be cherished by historic architecture fanatics 100 years from now? Or does everyone think there’s no such thing as tasteful new construction any more if it tries to look like something old?

    There are plenty of examples of 100 year old homes today that were still just reproductions of much older styles when they were built. The materials we use today might not be as nice, but maybe 100 years from now materials will be even crappier (or just different somehow) and people will really love whatever were used in these “generic” homes today.

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  19. I’m surprised the term McCondo hasn’t been used to describe the millions of cookie-cutter generic “luxury” condos that glut this country.

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  20. Pete, those are called “detergent boxes” – the ubiquitous red brick front and block sides and rear condo infill projects.

    This is a spec house, it’s ‘quality’ won’t last, much like many older buildings which are long gone, since they were poorly built. It’s not a new problem, contractors have been called to task on poor quality spec building for the last 100 years.

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  21. On the McMansion front, I live in Glenview, and the only houses for sale along any of the major streets are all McMansions — and just about all of them have never been lived in and have reduced prices. Admittedly, the ratio of regular, not-for-sale houses is much, much higher, but they do stick out in many ways. There’s already one on Harlem Avenue that has a huge auction sign on it.

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  22. As a Western European, I can’t but laugh at the developers’ attempts to imitate the bourgeois style of old Europe and then fill out the shell with rooms and circulations that don’t make sense except for showing off great expanses of hardwood floor. The ground floor defies common sense and cannot possibly have any functional rationale. The show-kitchen that will be used to move frozen pizzas from the SS fridge to the Granite counter is another lesson in bad taste.

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  23. MCCONDO! I love it.

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  24. It’s sadly true that this kitchen will likely be used for nothing more than heating up frozen pizza and storing restaurant leftovers. A nice meal will rarely if ever be cooked here, and I bet that stovetop water faucet won’t be used once.

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  25. If you could afford this place I’d guess that you could afford to eat at the nicest restaurants in Chicago every day of the year too.

    When you’re talking about $2MM+ places the budgetary constraints that affect the rest of us no longer apply. Whats $250/day to feed your family when you have a $3MM mortgage? Less than peanuts.

    Something this developer obviously never thought of: people that can drop $250/day to feed their family every day in very nice restaurants aren’t that common. Neither are those who could afford a 3.5MM mortgage.

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  26. “The ground floor defies common sense and cannot possibly have any functional rationale”

    You’re right – what are you going to put in that space next to the staircase? A couch? A table? It doesn’t make any sense!

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  27. So Bob, you’re saying I cannot buy this place with 0% down on my teacher’s salary of $61,000? Even with a neg/arm loan?

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  28. “So Bob, you’re saying I cannot buy this place with 0% down on my teacher’s salary of $61,000? Even with a neg/arm loan?”

    No, but if your significant other were a cop or fireman, and they had a second job, you might be able to afford the payments.

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  29. hd:

    don’t be an ass.

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  30. Sorry.

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  31. cjriis,

    Thats exactly what I’m saying. You should ask yourself why you have no money down and if the answer is you cannot save due to your lifestyle than I can assure you you will run into fiscal trouble when you become a homeowner as it is invariably more expensive than renting.

    0-5% down loans should have never been brought to the market. For those that can’t save the required 10-20% downpayment, they should never have been in the property market pushing prices upward.

    Generally the least fiscally prudent cannot afford a 10-20% downpayment, when this segment was offered entrance to owning real estate via 0% down loans and crazy leverage they pushed prices up at the margins as fiscally imprudent people generally aren’t as good at math. They had no idea they were overpaying when the bought a 2/2 condo in north center for 350k. They should have never been in the RE market in the first place.

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  32. Bob-Just so there’s no misunderstanding, my previous comment was meant as satire. You’re completely on point in describing the consequences of the loan standards that created this mess.

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  33. Thanks. And I agree generally with your next post; except that we bought our house w/~5% down (80/15) and it hasn’t caused us any hardship. Yeah, yeah, unusual circumstances, I agree, but it’s just a point against a blanket prohibition.

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  34. Sorry, bob’s next post.

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  35. I live up the street from this beast and noticed today that the big advertising sign in front is gone. Did the place actually sell or did they just take it off the market?

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  36. I’m a touch confused–

    “Amazing new _2007_ home…” that’s been available since 05?

    fill me in on how these listings work…

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  37. The MLS shows the listing as canceled as of 11/12/08.

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