Neighbors With Heart
By Anne Moore
Business has taken Howard Ecker around the globe, but his favorite place to watch the world go by is on the steps to his Webster Avenue home, facing Oz Park. He’s lived there since the late 1970’s, and it’s where he and his wife Janet raised twin daughters and tended to a series of much-loved dogs. Indeed, it was their young dog Trucker, gone blind, that led them to a house on a park. “We’ve been in that park three times a day for 37 years,” says Ecker. “Everything happened for us at that park.”
The immediate neighborhood was good to the family, too. Without crossing a street they could reach the veterinarian and the pediatrician. And when they entertained, their dinner guests would carry their plates into chef Louis Szathmary’s kitchen at The Bakery restaurant, load up, and return to the house. “It was before carry out as we know it,” Ecker says with a chuckle.
Ecker is president and CEO of Howard Ecker & Co., a firm that specializes in representing commercial tenants. He has a sky-high office in the Loop that’s brightly decorated and filled with museum-worthy art. He employs 25 and has offices in New York, Denver, Miami and in Australia. Ecker says his
professional success comes from knowing and finding the right people in real estate (Helmut Jahn, Buzz Ruttenberg, Sam Zell) earning their trust, and working to keep them.
A snappy dresser, Ecker wears white and black only during the work week, clothing that’s made in Japan and shipped to him from a store in Paris. About his striking wardrobe, Ecker says it’s important to be identifiable by what you wear and what you drive. (Ecker‘s wheels? An electric Fisker.)
A native of Chicago, Ecker grew up in Lakeview. A Latin School of Chicago graduate, Ecker went on to Tulane University, where he studied Russian history. He caught the property bug from his roommate, whose family business was New Orleans real estate. Ecker returned to Chicago and shortly thereafter became the leasing agent for the John Hancock building — before it was built. He’s spent his entire 50 year career in commercial real estate and development.
The Eckers have a second home in Mallorca, Spain, which they visit a few times per year. But it is their 1885 Victorian, with its view of Oz Park and the Chicago skyline, that dazzles. “We entertain a lot,” says Ecker. “We sit on the steps, it’s a stage in front of us, it’s theater. I don’t know why anyone would want to live anywhere else.”
|The Eckers still heart the neighborhood!|