Developers are selling two 120-year-old homes in Oak Park for $10 apiece. The catch is you have to disassemble them, haul them away, and pay all accompanying fees and a donation to a nearby charity.
The houses-252 and 256 Lake St.-are being removed to make way for a mixed-use development next year.
"We're trying to give them another life in another century," said Bob Lickton, a friend of the buildings' owner. "They're part of history, so if we can save them we will." Lickton owns Lickton's Cycle City, 310 Lake St.
The houses are old. Really old. Older, in fact, than Oak Park.
Lickton said one house is from the 1860s, the other from 1870. Frank Lipo, the executive director of the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest, said the homes appear in an 1895 map, and that one can be dated to the 1880s for sure.
"Without more research, you couldn't prove they are the oldest in town," Lipo said. That distinction-i.e. the number of pre-1902 houses still around-doesn't exist because nobody's done the research, Lipo said.
The village first issued building permits in 1902, so to date buildings constructed before then takes some multi-source checking.
"It's messy research, but it's also fun and interesting," Lipo said.
Because the homes are listed as contributing structures within the Ridgeland/Oak Park Historic District, the owners needed a Certificate of Appropriateness to tear them down. The certificate was awarded in July.
Lickton said the houses' facades might be attractive to someone looking to build a new house in a historic district. The houses' frames are fine, he said, but the interiors, roofs and systems (windows, plumbing, etc.) need to be renovated.
As part of the $10 price, owner Robert Patel will also ask that the buyer make a $500 donation to the Infant Welfare Society. "It would be a good gesture," Patel said.
Patel used to work in Lickton's bike shop. The Infant Welfare Society, 320 Lake St., was chosen because it's right down the street from the bike shop and the properties to be redeveloped.
A mixed-use building with residential condominiums is planned although few details have been worked out, said Patel, who works in finance and has not developed other properties before. Lickton said the new building will "blend into the neighborhood." Neither could say how tall the building might be.
The two properties are much deeper than they are wide, stretching all the way north to an alley that runs parallel to Lake Street, according to a Cook County Assessor map.
Lickton said the existing homes are filled with valuable items, such as old sinks, bathtubs and woodwork.
He estimates it would cost $75,000 to $150,000 to take one of the homes and reassemble it elsewhere. Moving the homes isn't possible because they're not structurally sound, Lickton said.
Last week they had received a couple of calls about the properties, but no serious inquiries.