A Historic Kenilworth, Illinois, Home Saved at the Last Hour

Skiff Home pic

Skiff Home
Image: chicago.curbed.com

As head of CH Ventures, LLC, in Chicagoland, Cameel Halim has pursued numerous development projects that involved the value-driven restoration and rehabilitation of historic buildings. Cameel Halim was featured in a 2006 Chicago Sun-Times article that focused on his and his daughter Nefrette’s successful efforts to save the Skiff Home on 157 Kenilworth, in a storied northern suburb of Chicago.

The late 19th century prairie-style home was envisioned by Daniel Burnham, a well-known local architect who was director of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and creator of the Chicago Plan. Unfortunately, a wave of knock downs of historic Kenilworth homes was gaining momentum and the Skiff Home was undergoing a pre-demolition sell-off auction organized by a local developer. This involved the sale of moldings, doorknobs, and even staircase banisters.

The residence was saved at the last hour, as pressure from Citizens for Kenilworth caused the developer to reconsider her plans and agree to negotiate the sale of the Arts & Crafts home to Mr. Halim. The sale was a small victory, considering the larger issue in which Kenilworth civic leaders were unwilling to institute the landmark and historic district ordinances set in place by neighborhoods such as Lake Forest, claiming that they impinged on property owners’ rights.

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A Groundbreaking Rehabilitation Project on Chicago’s Kenmore Avenue

 

CH Ventures, LLC pic

CH Ventures, LLC
Image: facebook.com

Based in Wilmette, Illinois, Cameel Halim guides CH Ventures, LLC, and maintains a focus on projects that improve Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods. A 1982 article in the Chicago Tribune brought focus to Cameel Halim’s unique approach to real estate and his commitment to rehabilitation in areas that suffered from a poor image and were difficult to develop in.

One such thoroughfare was Kenmore Avenue, which runs through the Edgewater and Uptown neighborhoods and had many gang-controlled buildings. Looking beyond the area’s reputation, Mr. Halim personally connected with an Edgewater Community Council member and learned about the efforts that were underway to make the area a better place to live.

Focusing on the integrity of the neighborhood, Mr. Halim’s team undertook a painstaking restoration process that brought the common-corridor buildings back to structural soundness while maintaining historic exteriors. Original bathroom fixtures were kept, while woodwork, landscaping, and parquet floors were replaced and rehabilitated. The newly remodeled apartments were rented out at reasonable rates, which reflected the low price of the original acquisition, not the quality of the units.

Developer Saves Historic Chicago Home from Demolition

Cameel Halim

With more than 40 years of experience buying, renovating, and selling properties, Cameel Halim serves as president of CH Ventures, LLC, a real estate development company he runs with his wife in Wilmette, Illinois. Of his many projects, Cameel Halim works to save historic homes from demolition. One of these properties was in the Chicago suburb of Kenilworth.

Mr. Halim’s daughter, as part of her position in the community group Citizens for Kenilworth, led the charge to keep the Skiff Home, designed by the firm of famed architect Daniel Burnham, from demolition. After many years in real estate, Mr. Halim began his foray into this form of activism in response to his daughter’s passion to save the property. He previously had hoped to purchase the 1908 dwelling, but found the asking price of more than 2 million dollars too great. It was when he saw his daughter’s despair at the high likelihood that the property would be razed that he took steps to save the home, which was accomplished less than a week out from the set demolition date.