If developer Environs Development has its way, the 1873 home at 1822 N. Howe Street will be demolished to make way for a 15,500-square-foot mega house.
Built two years after Chicago’s Great Fire, the Lincoln Park home is actually comprised of two brick structures. With close proximity, similar brick, and a similar roofline, they were later connected and renovated into a single home. This interesting home is approximately 5,400 square feet and includes five full bathrooms and two half baths.
Environs Development, run by architect and developer Ken Brinkman, has 1822 N. Howe under contract or under option. The listing broker would not disclose the sale price. The developer has listed for sale a new construction mega house for $15 million that would be 15,500 square foot with 8 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms, and “includes an elevator, attached garage, expansive outdoor space and options for indoor pool, golf simulator, indoor basketball court, and beyond. A home of up to 21,000 SF is allowable on this site.” (Redfin Listing)
Tear-down developers are often willing and able to outspend buyers looking to live in and restore historic homes. The triple wide Howe Street lot has 77 feet of street frontage and is 125 feet deep for a total of 9,625 square feet. This site is of particular interest to developers as it is over three times wider that a standard 25 foot lot. Because of the large lot size, the proposed development can be designed “as-of-right” within the permitted zoning envelope. If no zoning change is required, aldermanic approval is not required, and almost no oversight or planning tools are available to the alderman or community.
The location is just west of the boundaries of the highly sought after Old Town Triangle Landmark District, so the Landmark District provides no protections for this building. Additionally, developers know that properties in protected historic landmark districts are highly desirable and add value, so if they develop close to, but just outside of historic landmark districts, they can benefit from the high-desirability but without any restrictions.
The building was not protected by any landmark designation or not even included in the Chicago Historic Resource Survey (CHRS) which might have required a demolition delay. Downzoning historic properties so that the zoning more closely corresponds to the current existing building would help to encourage reuse of existing buildings and homes. An extension of the nearby Chicago Landmark District would have provided the greatest protection and oversight for historic homes like 1822 N. Howe Street.
Environs Development is proposing a 15,500-square-footer for this lot, which has 77 feet of street frontage. It’s the second highest price for a proposed new-construction house in the neighborhood. Dennis Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 11/5/18