The kitchen at 1524 North Wood Street is outfitted with premium appliances.
The exterior of 1822 North Marshfield Avenue fits right in with the neighborhood.
The Flat Iron Building, a Wicker Park landmark, is getting some fancy new neighbors.
Wicker Park has long been known as a bohemian mecca sprawling with students, artists, and comparatively affordable housing. But over the past dozen years, the neighborhood has embraced luxury, from trendy boutiques like Marc by Marc Jacobs and Nanette Lepore to high-end food and drink destinations like Schwa and Storefront Company. So when luxury home builder Noah Properties started building in Chicago in ’05, Wicker Park and the nearby neighborhoods of Bucktown and West Town were their first targets.
Founded by Anita Lisek and her husband, Bart, in 2001, Noah Properties got its start with condo conversions and single-family home rehabs, but it was the company’s foray into building custom homes in 2005 that helped business take off. With Lisek spearheading interior design and decoration and her husband managing construction and engineering, the duo has built such a successful business that its homes routinely sell before construction is completed, or very soon after. Take 1524 North Wood Street, which sold for $1.275 million in January, fast on the heels of its December completion. The five-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom home is on a smaller lot (standard for Wicker Park), but features stunning light fixtures, eye-catching tiles, textured walls, and high-end appliances. The residence also includes luxury amenities that have become signatures for Noah Properties: a built-in espresso machine, home theater, closet-sized temperature-controlled wine storage unit, and rooftop deck with gas, water, and electricity hookups for outdoor entertaining.
“We do so well with our spec homes that we usually don’t have a lot of requests for custom design,” Lisek says. “In the beginning, we did four or five homes custom based on what the buyers wanted. But just about all the buyers agreed with the details we had already [chosen], so we decided to build spec houses.” If a buyer requests a custom design, says Lisek, she and her husband will change options accordingly. And though Noah Properties’ houses typically are not custom-built by the buyer from the ground up, the husband and wife duo discuss every detail of the architect’s plans with the buyer. The goal is the same for each residence: to design and create a home with nothing but the best fixtures and amenities.
“We want to use every inch of the house—no negative space,” Lisek says. “And what we choose to put in the house—the tiles, millwork, and fixtures—reflects our company.” To that end, Lisek consistently uses beloved brands like Jonathan Adler and Robert Abbey and tiles imported from Italy, Spain, and Japan.
Only within the past few years has Noah Properties started to build in other neighborhoods more known for luxury homes: Lincoln Park and Lakeview. Lisek is particularly excited about 1250 West Schubert Avenue because she could easily imagine calling this residence home. “1250 Schubert has a totally different, very modern, LA feel because it’s all glass,” says Lisek. “I put so much thought into the fixtures, walls, and details. The little design details are like jewelry to me.”
Back in Wicker Park, Lisek believes the demand for luxury custom homes in the neighborhood will grow even further, especially with rising lot prices. And she still gets excited to build there, enthusiastically describing a boutique condo building the business is obtaining permits for at Damen and Shakespeare. The three-unit building will have retail space on the ground level and 3,200-squarefoot units with high ceilings, lots of light, and plenty of luxury amenities. Anita’s heart is very much in this project, too, which will hopefully break ground in the fall.
“We’re supposed to move our office into one of the lower (retail) levels, so I told my husband I’d like to keep a condo for ourselves,” she says. “But we’ll see if that happens.”