Chicagoland has no shortage of mansions in its suburbs, and the city of Chicago has its fair share of old, historic mansions. But how often is a massive new mansion built in the downtown of a major city? Only very rarely.
Yet that’s what’s happening in across the street from Lincoln Park in the city’s Park West neighborhood. In a move that would be the envy of SimCity players everywhere, local billionaire Joe Mansueto is erecting his dream mansion on an absolutely prime piece of downtown Chicago land surrounded by some of the city’s toniest towers.
You probably don’t know the Mansueto name, but you probably know of at least one of his endeavors — Fast Company Magazine, Inc. Magazine, or the Morningstar financial data company.
Mr. Mansueto appears to be a thoroughly local guy — Born in Munster, Indiana, went to the University of Chicago, and his Morningstar is the only big office tenant in Block37 other than CBS. A $25 million donation got his and his wife’s names on the new University of Chicago library.
Neighbors around Lincoln Park are calling his new home the “Morningstar Mansion.” The official name is simply 424 West Saint James Place.
And it truly is a mansion in every sense of the word. While dozens of Gold Coast homes are labeled “mansions” even though they’re little more than overgrown townhouses sliced into pseudo apartment buildings, this one is the real deal. And at an estimated cost of $22,253,190, it’s got to set some records for recent single-family construction in Chicago.
The mansion was designed by Margaret McCurry of Chicago’s Tigerman McCurry Architects, and submitted to the city on April 25, 2012. It’s 7,200 square feet and is being built on what was originally supposed to be land for eight townhomes. On its web site, Tigerman McCurry has a great gallery of other mansions it’s designed recently. Flipping through the slideshow gives you a good idea of what is possible.
The city, and the nuns who own the Cabrini Shrine next door (2520 North Lakeview Avenue) gave their blessing to the project in early May. And because it’s only a single-family home, it is exempt from the city’s Lakefront Protection Ordinance.
One stipulation the city imposted was that construction had to begin within a year, and as you can tell by the photographs, just six months later work is well underway.
How tall the mansion will be is hard to say. The townhouses that were supposed to be on this land were approved for 51 feet, two inches. They were also supposed to be set back from the street by 13 feet.
In something of a “Say what?” moment, the home is expected to perform a bit of architectural gymnastics. Quoting from paperwork filed with the city, the Mansueto mansion will be a “Single family residence above [the] existing parking deck of [a] multi-family residential building.” (Emphasis ours.)
That existing multi-family building is none other than Lincoln Park 2550 (formerly known as Lincoln Park 2520). It was the developers of that condo tower who sold Mr. Mansueto the land he needed to build his new home.
We’ll keep an eye on this house as it progresses, in large part because we’re fans of architectural incongruity (five years in Houston will do that to you). But also because Mansueto is living out the fantasy of many a young urban planner and SimCity fan — put your mansion right downtown. Who cares about the skyscrapers next door.