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Wicker Park Apartments Boarded Up Since 1970s To Reopen

By Alisa Hauser | November 17, 2014 9:44am
 Built in 1892, the 18,000-square-foot, three-story building at the southwest corner of Milwaukee and Evergreen avenue was listed for $4.3 million.  The apartments above the storefronts have been boarded up for decades.
1422-26 N. Milwaukee Ave.
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WICKER PARK — A prominent vintage building at Milwaukee and Evergreen avenues, which has had its upper-level windows boarded up since the 1970s, is the potential site of 20 new apartments.

The 18,450-square-foot, three-story building —  in a busy retail corridor two blocks south of the Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues intersection — was put on the market last fall by Baum Realty with an asking price of $4.7 million, according to a marketing brochure.

The building at 1422-26 N. Milwaukee Ave. is owned by the three children of the late Ben Neuman, who founded Ben's Shoes at 1424 N. Milwaukee Ave. The store closed in 2012.

Though the ground level of the building has three storefronts housing Brooklyn Industries; a boutique, Emma; and the Lomography Embassy Store, the apartments above the stores have been boarded up for decades.

A zoning application filed with the city earlier this month by Cedar Street Companies seeks to rezone the property to allow for the building of 20 apartments in the 1890s-era building, Crain's reported last week.

Jay Michael, co-owner of Cedar Street Co., which has converted several Uptown and Far North Side vintage buildings into apartments, on Monday confirmed that his firm has a pending contract to buy the property.

Michael and Baum Realty broker Danny Spitz, who is selling the building for the Neuman family, declined to reveal the closing price or when the sale is expected to go through.

In an interview earlier this fall, Spitz described the 12 vintage apartments are "uninhabitable" but said "they are cool old vintage units with pocket doors and great moldings. "

Spitz said the apartments, which have not been rented out for over 30  years, still have newspapers from the '70s in them.

"It was the owner's preference to keep the apartments vacant," Spitz said of the building, which he said had seen interest from about 40 buyers.

Michael said that while his firm plans to gut the interior of the two upper floors to create 20 apartments from the existing 12, the goal is  to keep "a great deal of the vintage character intact."

"As a company, we believe strongly in maintaining and reimagining some of Chicago’s greatest architectural treasures. If a distressed or historic asset supports a full gut rehab or an adaptive reuse in a market where consumers are hungry for well-designed space, our interest is piqued," Michael said.

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