Thursday, June 10, 2010


Pictured above is a condominium at 6212 N North Winthrop I wrote about back in 2008, and it looks like the property has only gone downhill since. This building is a newly-constructed condo with 8 units originally offered at $550,000-$600,000 each, and which has gone through many ownerships. See current snapshot of ownership, above.

This is the worst-looking property for many blocks on N. Winthrop in Edgewater, a street that has undergone a 180-degree transformation over the past 15 years. Many years ago, Winthrop and Kenmore together formed the notorious Winthrop Corridor of drugs, crime, and blight, but since that time, these two streets have become beautiful, placid, tree-lined streets with well-groomed, beautiful houses and buildings in a wide variety of architectural styles.

In this block are many charming old corridor buildings and a number of "four-plus-one" buildings, all offering cheap rentals, yet these places are beautifully landscaped and well-maintained. 6212, on the other hand,, is gleaming new construction with  large, new high-rent apartments, yet it looks seedier every time I walk past it. The weeds are nearly a foot high in the pocket front lawn and on the parkway, where there is also a hole about a foot across and a foot deep, covered only by a barricade lying on its side. There is trash everywhere- on the little lawn, the walk, the parkway, and stuffed, along with piles of last fall's fallen leaves, between the pickets of the wrought-iron perimeter fence.

I was strolling down Winthrop late this afternoon, and was freshly shocked at the appearance of the place. In the course of snapping pictures to document the wretched appearance of the property, I was intercepted by a white male who appeared to be about in his forties, who double-parked his SUV in front of the place, jumped out, and demanded to know what I was doing.

"Are you the owner of this place?" I asked, indicating the building with my hand.

"Yes! I'm the owner!" he exclaimed, puffing his chest out and staring me intently in his "aggressive display" stance.

"Do you realize you have the trashiest-looking property on the street? This property looks horrible, " I said, "what with trash allover it and weeds a foot high. Look at all these cheap little corridor buildings that look so lovely and have such beautiful flowers and plantings, and your place looks like a slum. You're blighting the street."

I suppose he realized that he could not stop me from taking photos. "A good day to you, madam! Have a good day!" he barked.

The guy was utterly shameless. 

This guy clearly isn't troubled by the neighbors' opinions.  We seem to have a larger number of such owners since the Great Housing Rampage and the ensuing glut of newly constructed and converted condos. Either the owners are not paying for the place and are de facto squatters, and aren't going to lift a finger to maintain the place while they wait for their NODs to arrive in the mail (or for the Sheriff to arrive with the movers), or they are slumlords who picked these places up in foreclosure and just want to sit on them till they can flip them. They don't care how their places look or who they rent them to. Twenty years of dramatic neighborhood improvement in Edgewater and Rogers Park is in danger of being reversed by these predatory new owners.

Shame is usually a good method of enforcing local standards of property maintenance on slob owners, but you can't shame the arrogantly shameless. Some owners just have to be coerced, and it's no violation of their property rights to compel conformity with community expectations. Every owner in the area is negatively affected by the neglect and visible deterioration of property in the area. This property is in the 49th Ward, whose alderman is Joe Moore, and a few dozen calls and letters to Moore from irate neighbors disturbed by the litter and weeds might be helpful.


consultant said...

We need to outlaw securitization.

We need to require ALL lenders keep the mortgage loans they make for the first 10 years (at least).

We have become a gangster country (see the way BP AND the govt. are controlling press access to the coasts where oil has come ashore). I don't see anything positive happening before the second dip in this re(de)cession hits.

The North Coast said...

We just need to stop enabling securitization by tossing our tax money at propping up Freddie and Fannie.

Sunset all the GSEs and securitization will go away, It would never have happened to begin with, or at least not to such a dangerous extent, were it not for the nominally private but government-sponsored AND financed GSE's such as GNMA, FNMA and FMAC.These agencies were set up by the government as private for-profit corporations whose function was to buy mortgages that otherwise would never get written. Their whole reason for being is to enable securitization and thus create a market for mortgages that would otherwise be too risky for a bank to handle.

We don't have to outlaw stuff nearly so much as we need to stop enabling it by publicly funding it. We still have ARM mortgages and Equity Extractions BECAUSE THE FHA IS UNDERWRITING THEM.

Pull the public funding from the mortgage market, and problem mortgages go away. So will about 50% of current house equity, but it is worth it to get the economy on an honest basis.

Let's just square with the fact that the whole bubble was government driven in conjunction with the politicians' cronies at the major financial houses,in a very cynical effort to produce "growth" by asset inflation and debt creation. Get the taxpayers and treasury out of the mortgage markets, and trust me, lending will by much more prudent.

Anonymous said...

This building has 8 units and almost all of them are being rented for over $2000 a month to college students. The students living there don't care about the trash so the landlord isn't going to spend money to pick it up.

The North Coast said...

Good thing all the other property owners on the street don't have the same attitude, or Edgewater would be on its way back to slumhood. This area is stuffed with cheap rentals. As it is, the improvement in these north neighborhoods is very fragile, and we can be thankful the owners of the other rental buildings on that block take good care of their buildings and care about their appearance.