Gold Coast building’s decades-long vacancy bewilders neighborhood

Although well maintained, the property has been vacant since the mid-1990s

Baird & Warner's Jim Kinney with 1445 North Dearborn Parkway
Baird & Warner's Jim Kinney with 1445 North Dearborn Parkway (Baird & Warner, Google Maps, Getty)

A Gold Coast building that has been vacant for almost three decades is shrouded in mystery.

Even though it’s been apparently uninhabited, it’s still a well-maintained brick and stone courtyard building at 1445 North Dearborn Parkway and it’s captivated some neighborhood residents and passerby, Crain’s reported.

It has drawn interest from from people wanting to live in the prime location, yet no one has been able to successfully contact the owner.

“That’s the phantom building of the Gold Coast,” Baird & Warner agent Jim Kinney, who has long lived and sold in the neighborhood, told the outlet. Every few years, he said “somebody walks by, decides that would be a nice building to live in and calls me to make inquiries. But we get no answers.”

Cook County records show the building owner is John Brown, a real estate investor tied to the firms Belden Properties, JAB Properties and Ashton Properties. All phone numbers listed for the firms have been disconnected or get no answer, and the outlet’s attempts to call Brown on a personal number listed on Department of Buildings paperwork also yielded no response.

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Property records show Brown has owned the building since 1990. It was previously a 50-room hotel and then a 27-unit condo building. In 2006, Brown’s firm filed permit requests to rebuild the west side facade after it collapsed. Within those permits were requests to convert the property from 27 rooms down to 10 and to update the electrical system. Five years after that, the city also issued a permit for a new elevator.

Since then, however, nothing else has changed.

While the building has been vacant, it’s not blighted, boarded up or graffitied and hasn’t caused any problems for the city since it issued a $540 fine for overfilling the property’s alley trash container.

— Victoria Pruitt