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That Castle on the Kennedy Expy. Has a New Owner ... And He's Finishing It

 The 7,000 square foot fortress is set to be complete before the end of the year, the new homeowner said.
The Castle
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IRVING PARK — At 42 feet tall, it's hard not to notice the hulking citadel that overlooks the Kennedy Expy. north of the Addison exit in the Irving Park neighborhood.

Surrounded by modest two- or three-story single-family homes, the fortress looms over nearby properties, a medieval coat of arms at its front entrance to greet passersby.

"The castle," as neighbors have come to know it, has sat vacant and barricaded by a tarp-covered chain-link fence since foreclosure halted construction on the 7,000-square -foot home back in 2010. Manufacturer stickers on the home's massive front windows are a dead giveaway that it remains a work in progress.

But now, five years later, a new owner has neighbors breathing a sigh of relief that the house finally will be complete after more than a decade of sporadic construction.

Attorney Anthony Panzica, 60, bought the house at 3721 N. Parkview Terrace in November 2013.

Panzica didn't disclose how much he paid for the property, but according to Crib Chatter.com, the Castle was listed at $425,000 in July 2013.

For Panzica, the decision to scoop up the imposing Castle was simple.

"There's nothing quite like it in Chicago," Panzica told DNAinfo Chicago during a recent tour of the mostly unfinished interior.

"I mean, just look at. It's one of kind."

After he bought it, Panzica worked with planners and the original architect to oversee the new phase of construction to ensure that delays won't again plague the remaining work.

"One of the reasons it went unfinished years ago was the project was too overwhelming for the person contracted to do the work," Panzica said. "It's a huge undertaking, and he'd never done anything like this."

Mauricio Peña says the new owner is finishing it for his family:

In late December, city permits finally were approved, and construction workers set foot in the castle for the first time in years.

"The previous owner [Rudy Acosta] did all the heavy lifting with the initial construction; now it's time to finish the interior," said Panzica, who estimates he still has another $700,000 in work to go.

For Panzica, the money being spent is not a big deal because he see's it as a family investment.

The Castle has five bedrooms, five baths, a home theater in the basement, a sauna in the master bathroom, three decks, and a yet-to-be-finished spiral staircase at the front entrance.

There's still at least $700,000 of work to finish inside. [DNAinfo/Mauricio Pena]

Anthony Panzica purchased the property at 3721 N. Parkview Terrace in November 2013. [DNAinfo/Mauricio Pena]

The view of the dining room located on the first floor of the Castle. [DNAinfo/Mauricio Pena]

The view of the kitchen and one of the three patios on the first floor of the Castle. [DNAinfo/Mauricio Pena]

The master bathroom, which includes a jacuzzi bath and sauna, is on the third floor of the Castle. [DNAinfo/Mauricio Pena]

Anthony Panzica shows where the home theater will be in the Castle at 3721 N. Parkview Terrace. [DNAinfo/Mauricio Pena]

In 2000, Rudy Acosta III, a real estate developer who also founded hip hop's Legion Records, bought an empty lot owned by the Illinois Department of Transportation so he could build his fortress, Chicago magazine reported.

Despite objections from neighbors, Acosta's zoning lawyer, the well-connected Jimmy Banks, got a zoning change approved from the city's Zoning Committee. That committee at the time was controlled by Jimmy Banks' uncle, then- Ald. William Banks, according to the Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, who called the acquisition of the land "The Chicago way."

But in 2010, two banks filed a $5.5 million lawsuit against properties controlled by Acosta, including the uncompleted castle, Crain's reported. The home, valued at $1.89 million, was subsequently foreclosed on and listed for sale. Panzica finally made his move three years later.

"It's unusual place," Panzica said. "There's no house comparable to this one in the city, at such a great location."

Neighbors who have stared at the construction fence around the castle for several years are ready for it to come down soon.

"It's nice to see that work is being done," Julie Martinez, who has lived in the neighborhood for 31 years. "There was a lot of concerns earlier with the aesthetics of the Castle not fitting in with the neighborhood, as well as how the Castle might affect property taxes. But at this point, it's there now, it's not coming down, might as well live with it, and make the best of it at this point."

Cecilia Ramos, 28, remembers when the foundation was laid for the castle back in 2005 and watched as the vacant space transformed from a grass lot used by residents to walk their dogs to a place she often fantasized living in.

"It's nice," Ramos said, "There's nothing else around here that looks like it. It's nice that after so many years of being untouched, it's being finished."

With work underway for the latest round of construction, Panzica said he wants to have the place completed before the end of the year.

Although Panzica bought the property, he won't be presiding over the castle.

"I'm too old," he said.

Instead, he said he'll let a family member move in and wear the crown.

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