Dying for an apartment in Lake View? Developer of old funeral home hopes so

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The former Herdegen-Brieske Funeral Home at Lincoln, Southport and Wellington in Lakeview is being redeveloped into apartment and shops despite what the developer acknowledges is the “creepy” factor. Brian Jackson/ Sun-Times

Real estate developer David Trandel knows just what he wants to do with the site of a historic funeral home on the North Side: turn it into apartments and stores.

He toured the former Herdegen-Brieske Funeral Home in Lake View on Halloween “to get the maximum feel of creep.”

“It is creepy,” he says. “It is a fact. . . . I don’t dismiss it. It could be a real issue.”

On the other hand, Trandel says the building’s history offers a unique selling point.

Trandel’s Stonestreet development firm plans to gut the inside of the old funeral home but keep its Gothic revival terra cotta façade, then bring back architectural components that harken to the building’s past while beautifying it.

“Historical renovations are terrific and challenging,” says Trandel, who was involved in the renovation of the JW Marriott Chicago hotel, which opened in November 2010 in the historic Continental & Commercial National Bank Building at 151 W. Adams.

“If you do it right, you end up with a more valuable asset than if you had knocked the building down.”

Trandel and his partners plan to decide in the next 30 days whether to put apartments in a portion of the funeral home or on a parcel just to the north that was a parking lot. The first two floors of the funeral home already are being eyed by national retailers interested in the prime location at the northeast corner of Lincoln, Southport and Wellington in the tony neighborhood.

The apartments would likely rent for $2,500 a month for a one-bedroom, starting at 900 square feet, and $3,300 a month for a 1,200-square-foot two-bedroom, which is in keeping with the market, Trandel says.

Victoria Jones, a Chicago broker associate with Koenig Rubloff Realty Group, says the real estate mantra of “location, location, location” makes the site a prime one that could easily override the creep factor.

“The building, which dates back to 1912, adds beauty to the street,” she says. “And what a fantastic neighborhood.”

In Washington, D.C., a developer put nine condos in a former funeral home in that city’s fast-growing North Columbia Heights neighborhood, about three miles north of the White House. It sold all but one of the units in six weeks.

“We really sold that you’re living in luxury at a price that’s reasonable in this market,” says Jenna Jacobson, development manager at S2 Development LLC in Washington.

In Chicago, Trandel sees another bright side for renters in the former funeral home he’s redeveloping.

“It’s better to be a [tenant] than a customer,” he says.


The former Herdegen-Brieske Funeral Home at the northeast corner of Lincoln, Southport and Wellington in Lake View is being redeveloped into apartments and stores despite what the developer acknowledges is the “creepy” factor. Brian Jackson / Sun-Times

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