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Gold Coast building empty for decades

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“They are obviously paying for upkeep, garbage, landscaping, etc.,” says Stenzel. “Seems fine. First world problem, right?”

Building property taxes are up to date. Cook County records show he’s just over $1 million in total payments made by the owner over the past 20 years. Last year’s bill was $73,176.

The tax invoices are mailed to John Brown, a real estate investor who for years ran companies called Belden Properties, JAB Properties and Ashton Properties. Crain reached out to Brown via email and via the last phone number the Buildings Authority had for him from the 2013 paperwork, but Brown did not respond.

Brown has owned the building since 1990 under his name or under one or more legal entities called JAB, according to the Cook County Clerk. It is not clear from the records what he paid.

Few signs the building is occupied. Few windows have curtains or other coverings, the gate between Dearborn’s wrought-iron gate and the garage door in the alley is padlocked, and several walk-bys over the past few weeks have shown Crane A reporter saw only a few lights lit up, on the left side of the third and fourth floors. It’s pretty much the same situation as when the same reporter checked the building 10 years ago.

chicago tribune Reported in 2005 The building “was vacant for about ten years.” Since then, it has been empty, or nearly empty, so vacancies now appear to have stretched to 28.

In a 2005 article (Brown declined to comment), the Tribune said the building, which at some point in the past was a 50-room hotel, was converted to condominiums when the building on the west side of the street collapsed. reported.

That part was later rebuilt, and visible from the walkway is a classic Chicago facade of brick and stone with inlaid balconies.

Brown’s company received permission in 2006 to rebuild the façade, reduce the building from 27 to 10 units, and also obtain permission to update the electrical plumbing and climate system. Five years later, permission was granted for a new elevator.

Since then, crickets.

“It’s a nice looking building. Everyone wonders,” says @properties agent Nancy Joyce. Although he lives in Old Town, he frequently passes by the house on the block where she once lived.

Theories abound, but Crain’s was unable to document any of them.

If the building is neat and clean, does it matter if no one lives there? It shows no signs of being run down or becoming a home for drug dealing or worse.

Stenzel sees a loss of potential property tax revenue for the city. That may be true, but it’s difficult to calculate given that many details about the building are opaque.

Kinney estimated units in the building to be “minimum, starting at $500,000, $600,000” based primarily on location.

Crain calculates that the average tax for a neighborhood condo sold in this price range over the past six months is about $9,500. If all 10 units in the haunted building were taxed at that size, the annual bill would be about $95,000, compared to his $73,000 bill last year.

However, this estimate is limited by lack of information. Some or all units may have a higher bill.

Much about the building remains a mystery, especially why Brown left it empty for so long and how he can afford to do so.

Meanwhile, Joyce says, “Isn’t it fascinating to wonder what’s going on there?”

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