ROGERS PARK — Col. James Pritzker's 13-story Farcroft building is nearly ready for tenants as tours begin and leases are penned after a complete rehab.
The biggest units with the best lake and city skyline views are already taken, said Michael Brunner, of Tawani Enterprises.
Brunner, who was hired by Tawani, which manages Pritzker's holdings, has been responding to phone calls from prospective tenants for the past few weeks as news of the building's completion spread on social media.
Many of those looking to rent one of the 84 units, available March 1, are from the neighborhood, Brunner said.
The Farcroft building, at 1337 W. Fargo Ave., was built in 1928. Over the years, it wasted away before it was sold to Pritzker in 2009.
In a December 2008 Chicago Tribune article, residents complained about having to haul groceries up 10 flights of stairs after the building's elevators broke down.
One woman living on the 10th floor resorted to walking her dog on the roof a few stories up instead of climbing all the way down, according to the story.
When the purchase was final, the city handed Tawani "31 pages of code violations," said Brunner.
"The building had to be torn down to a shell," he said. "Everything had to go."
The exterior of the building has no right angles and is decorated with carved grotesques symbolizing vices, such as greed, vanity and gluttony.
"The portly one in the middle really creeps me out," said Brunner.
For future tenants, the amenities at the restored Farcroft are numerous.
The lobby's fireplace will be gas-fired. A first-floor storage room will feature lockers and bike racks. Simple bicycle tools and an air compressor will be installed, as well. Near the elevators, a room has been set aside for workout equipment.
Each floor has a laundry room and garbage chute.
Montly rent for one-bedroom apartments begin at $825 and the two bedrooms at $1,250, Brunner said.
Pritzker, with a $1.5 billion net worth, has spent millions of dollars on Rogers Park real estate.
A few blocks west, on Morse Avenue, the Tawani has nearly completed a five-story apartment complex, featuring 12 units, a 12-car garage and a commercial space on the first floor, which will house offices for Mayne Stage employees.
Pritzker, a former Illinois National Guard officer, lives in Evanston, but has devoted a portion of his fortune to preserving historic homes such as the Emil Bach House on North Sheridan Road.
Most recently, Tawani proposed a four-story parking garage on a piece of land it purchased for $1.7 million from the Shambhala Meditation Center last summer — largely to provide parking to Farcroft residents in a neighborhood known for its lack of street parking.
The plan, which requires a zoning change, faced stiff criticism from neighbors at a community meeting in January.
Brunner said a bright bulb had been installed in the Farcroft's cupola that protrudes from its northwest corner.
At night, the dome shines like a "beacon," he said, catching the eye of commuters entering the city on Sheridan Road.