Saturday, July 21, 2007
The Resurgence of Quality
I guess it had to happen at last, even though I wondered just how many hack rehabs and cookie-cutter six-flat condos and dreary , institutional, machine-for-living high rises it would take to produce just one quality building. However, it looks as though the housing feeding frenzy that has just passed has left us with a few buildings of gemlike quality, even though it is hard to spot them in the coast-to-coast sea of stapled-together garbage spewn out in the stampede of greed of the past few years.
"It" is 1223 W. Farwell in Rogers Park, a new three-unit condominium in Rogers Park, currently under construction. I'm ashamed to admit I don't remember who is building this great place, even though I ought to, for this property was the center of controversy as the developer originally proposed to demolish the lovely old greystone on the adjacent lot in order to build a six-unit building. While I'm glad that building was saved, I'm glad that this new building was allowed to go up.
The sheer quality of the place is almost shocking, and I felt like I was transported back to another era when I saw the place- it was as if it was 1925 again. I kid you not, I was getting a serious case of house envy, which I almost never experience when viewing the latest cookie-cutter 6-flat condo or MidCentury Mod Revival highrise.
The brick and concrete work are impeccable, and the back and flanks are brick. Most of all, the windows are wood and have real mullions, in contrast to the majority of overpriced new condo buildings whose windows have "pasties" or snap-in plastic muntins that are obvious when viewed from the street.
At this point, there is no sign in front of the property, and I don't know how much the units will cost, though I have heard they will be priced in the neighborhood of $600,000. I sense the units are worth that, even though this is not an auspicious time to try to market pricey new construction.
This is the type of construction the area needs more of, even though it is not "affordable". High-quality new construction is almost never inexpensive, or within reach of people with average incomes, which is no reason not to build it. This is the type of building that will outlast "trendier" buildings, or buildings of "cutting edge" architecture, and while I have not heard of the place having any "green" features, this is the type of building that will serve well for many generations in a fuel-short future.