Homes in a garden

Courtyard on the Park tailors green space, historic design to modern living
Courtyard on the Park Chicago doesn’t always live up to its motto, “city in a garden,” but for those lucky enough to live on the lush parks and thoroughfares that comprise its boulevard system, the description is an understatement.

If there was a motto for buildings like Courtyard on the Park, a 38-unit condo conversion at 5936-42 S. King Drive, on the edge of Washington Park, it might be “homes in a garden.” The courtyard building is a prime example of vintage structures heavily influenced by the abundant new park space and beautiful pleasure drives they surrounded – the likes of Washington Park, Jackson Park and the Midway Plaisance – according to architect Phillip Kupritz.

“The parks and open areas were perfect locations for structures that had a nexus with their surroundings,” says Kupritz, whose firm, K2 Architects, designed the renovation of Courtyard on the Park. “Courtyard buildings like this one extended the garden and landscaping to the residences. The building was built in the 1920s with English-like lines, overlaid with Chicago-style architecture in the form of red brick patterns organized around stone, a style that was very popular with structures of this type.”

The product of such great architectural minds as Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted more than a century ago, Washington Park almost demanded the high standards that arose in buildings like Courtyard on the Park, which is being converted by veteran builder Mark Foreit.

“I was born and raised on the South Side,” says Foreit, whose company, Foreit Properties, LLC, has been developing real estate in the area for almost 10 years. “I have always been fascinated with Chicago real estate and architecture, and Courtyard on the Park was particularly attractive because of its style and location.”

Foreit has completely renovated the building, retaining only the exterior façade and the cherrywood stairway railings inside.

“I can’t say enough about this building and the area,” says Frank DeNovi, of Coldwell Banker, exclusive sales agent for the property. “Mark’s renovations are top quality, as is evidenced by the recognition he has received from the mayor and the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. He has concentrated on the South Side and knows the area as well as anyone.”

He also understands both the demand for contemporary living space and the symbiotic relationship between the expansive green of Washington Park and this type of classic courtyard building, according to Kupritz.

“The sunrooms and balconies really bring the outdoors into the residence,” says Kupritz. “And the unit interiors have been redesigned to recognize the spacious, open look that has replaced the once-prevalent cubicle construction. This obviously creates a more airy feeling and makes use of a lot more natural light.”

Building features and amenities include soundproof and fireproof gypsum and concrete flooring, sound-resistant metal-channeled ceilings, large windows, original cherrywood stair railings, ground-level storage areas, a secure gated and lighted parking area, steel and wrought iron balconies and an intimate landscaped courtyard.

“The floor and ceiling construction are state-of-the-art when it comes to fire safety and soundproofing. And the balconies restore a sense of community to the courtyard as well as once again providing an outdoor view of the park,” says Foreit, alluding to the fact that the building originally had outdoor porches that were later enclosed.

“Remember that buildings like this were built before the days of air conditioning,” says Kupritz. “It was common to have porches that provided breathing room and allowed people to socialize across the courtyard between residences. When air conditioning came along, these areas were enclosed to provide more interior space.”

The building contains four one-bedroom units with one bath, 20 two-bedroom units with one or two baths and 14 three-bedroom units with two baths. The residences range from 900 to 1,600 square feet and are priced from $129,900 to $239,900. One parking space is included in the price, with extra parking available at an additional cost.

Features include hardwood flooring in living areas, bedroom carpeting, marble bathroom tile, full kitchen appliances, 42-inch maple cabinets, granite kitchen countertops, fireplaces, balconies, brushed nickel hardware, laundry hookups and multimedia wiring. Many of the units have exposed brick and glass sunrooms in the areas that once were outdoor porches.

At press time, approximately one-third of the units had been sold, and a number of buyers had already moved in, according to DeNovi, who has worked with Foreit on a number of projects. Units will be ready for delivery approximately 30 days after contracts are signed.

DeNovi points out that property values are soaring in the Washington Park neighborhood, largely as a result of the city’s massive improvements to King Drive. “The Washington Park neighborhood is taking on a Hyde-Park look,” says DeNovi. “It’s 15 minutes from downtown, very close to the University of Chicago, the lake, the museum campus and the Dan Ryan. It has everything going for it. When you take all that into account, the price points for these units represents a remarkable bargain.”

The building sales office is open from noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and during the week by appointment. More information about Courtyard on the Park can be obtained from Coldwell Banker at 773-370-2772.

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