These houses in Woodlawn are selling in the $700,000s

Two new homes in the Woodlawn neighborhood have each sold for over $700,000 in recent weeks, setting a new record price for homes sold in the neighborhood.

The two houses are in a row of four on the 6100 block of South Ellis Avenue. The one at the far right in the photo sold for a little more than $708,000 in late February. Next to it is one that sold for slightly over $707,000 in mid-January.

The third house went for $699,000 in February, and the fourth, farthest left, is under contract to a buyer, according to Midwest Real Estate Data. Each house is about 3,200 square feet inside.

The upper price in Woodlawn has been rising fast. A year ago this week, a house that sold for $599,000 was the highest-priced sale in the neighborhood. Since that time, a total of six Woodlawn houses, including the three on Ellis, have sold for $625,000 or more.

Other than these homes, in the past six months a couple of Woodlawn homes have sold in the $480,000 range, and most have sold for $250,000 or less, according to Midwest Real Estate Data.

The four Ellis Avenue houses, less than a block south of the University of Chicago campus, were built by Greenline Homes, a 20-year-old firm that specializes in eco-friendly homes, and MK Construction and Builders. One factor in their prices, Greenline principal Benjamin Van Horne wrote in an email, is that "our houses are unique, in that they are super-insulated, LEED certified, ultra-comfortable, all-electric homes with rooftops full of solar panels (enough to provide 70 percent of projected energy use)."

Plans to build the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park on the eastern edge of Woodlawn have led to real estate speculation. Van Horne wrote that while "the Obama Center is a confidence multiplier, most of our plans in the neighborhood were initiated prior to the announcement that [it] would be built on the South Side of Chicago. Woodlawn was a very attractive neighborhood with a strong future even before the location of the Center was announced."

Van Horne has been building in Woodlawn for a decade. His firm also has a smaller model, about 2,100 square feet, that sells for between $390,000 and $480,000 depending on the location, he wrote. Greenline has two complete, two under construction and 11 more planned. On homes of this size, he said, the solar panels can provide 100 percent of the expected energy use.

Of the nine homes Greenline has sold in Woodlawn in the past few years, according to Van Horne, five of the buyers moved from Hyde Park or Kenwood, which are more expensive neighborhoods north of the university.

The Ellis Avenue site has proven so successful, Van Horne wrote, that in the spring he plans to start two more on the same block, with prices starting at $749,000.

All of the over-$625,000 sales in Woodlawn that were not Greenline homes were the work of Project Inspire, which is also building contemporary-styled homes. The highest-priced sale by Project Inspire is just under $685,000, which buyers paid in late February for a 3,000-square-foot, five-bedroom house a block south of the Greenline quartet.

Bill Williams, the principal of KMW Communities, which is building the Project Inspire homes, was not available for comment.


Ryan Tippery