Steve Novak’s Dull Whitefish Bay Home
Milwaukee Buck and former MU star has plain-Jane home, eagle-eyed neighbors.
In 2012 Steve Novak and his wife Christina paid $725,000 for this 2003 Whitefish Bay home. Steve Novak, of course, is a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, but the purchase of the residence by the 33-year old Brown Deer native and Marquette University graduate preceded by three years his hiring by the Bucks, and shows a commitment of a major league athlete to his hometown.
The Novak home is in a quiet area east of Lake Drive in the 2-square mile lakefront community of 14,000. Whitefish Bay is barely simmering as far as melting pots go, with a population that is 1.9 percent African American, 2.8 percent Latino, 3.7 percent Asian, 0.1 percent Native American and 91.9 percent white.
The proximity of Klode Park means that the Novaks have a near courtside seat at the village’s biggest game of all — its family-friendly Fourth of July parade, party and fireworks. The area is located between the lake and Santa Monica Blvd., which is intersected only occasionally by east-west streets. This relative isolation guarantees a neighborly, almost cloistered feeling, with very little through traffic, and with seemingly a pair of eyes behind every window, looking out on the street just feet away. People in Whitefish Bay tend to be on the lookout for unusual activity. Problem is, the place is so dead that any activity at all can be a cause for suspicion.
The Novak family has five bedrooms and three full baths at their disposal. The home has a typical postage stamp-sized front yard, but in this case it is smaller than the neighbors’, since the front of the Novak home includes a two-car garage and drive. Every other home on the block has a driveway to the side. (In addition to the rather narrow 40-foot lots, Whitefish Bay blocks tend to not have alleys, leading to many curb cuts and limited street parking.)
The reason for the distinction between the Novak home and its neighbors is one of chronology: it is about 80 years newer than its neighbors, which were almost all built just before the Great Depression for middle class residents, many of whom had been born in the United States of immigrant parents. They were moving on up to the East Side, and Whitefish Bay was just a streetcar ride away. The side driveways and rear garages were to come later, for the most part, with a number of exceptions, particularly among the lakefront mansions.
These older houses also remain, though with a number of exceptions, particularly among the lakefront mansions. The high desirability of lakefront property has made it economically feasible for some substantial homes to be razed in the village and replaced by more expensive ones. Most single family residences from the 21st century can be found on the lake, where they replaced earlier homes. (Whitefish Bay probably saw its last virgin vacant lot sometime just after World War II.)
Novak’s home is also located on the site of an earlier residence that was demolished to allow for its construction. At $25 per square foot, the land is not cheap. For the most part the home fits in, but the double door garage facing you right on the street is somewhat jarring. Maybe it would look more natural if it had a basketball hoop in front.
Craig Counsell‘s Whitefish Bay home has a basketball hoop, and he’s a baseball manager. Of course Counsell lives south of Silver Spring Drive, and they probably do things a little differently — a little looser — on that side of town. I blame its proximity to Shorewood.
Still, for a suburban home of no particular distinction or style — it looks like it belongs in Novak’s home town of Brown Deer — the location at least has very urban attributes, although with a distinctly small-town cast.
It’s even “Somewhat Walkable,” and there is probably no suburb that has a higher percentage of kids biking to school, and generally all over town. (Jake Newborn, who runs the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin Safe Routes to School program, is a graduate of Whitefish Bay High School.)
Maddeningly, for a community that has a sidewalk on both sides of every street, and a nice, orderly street grid, a whole two square miles to deal with, and no need to drive — ideal drinking conditions — it is not the kind of place where you will find a tavern, as you would in any normal Wisconsin community. Jack Pandl’s Restaurant, way on the east side of town, and surrounded by nothing, is about the best you can do here. Thiensville is half the size of Whitefish Bay and five times the fun, and that’s not saying much.
Sendik’s is only a couple of blocks away, and Klode Park can be loads of excitement if it is your custom to disport yourself in a calm, orderly fashion. They still sell penny candy for just a quarter apiece at Fitzgerald’s Pharmacy, and if dad says it’s O.K., maybe we can cross the border into Glendale and have a custard at Kopp’s.
Whitefish Bay: “The Leafy Suburb”
Whitefish Bay is often described as a “leafy suburb.” I used the term the last time House Confidential visited the village for a look at the home of John Hammond, Novak’s boss. As far back as 1994 the term appears in an article in Education Week Teacher. For more than two decades, Whitefish Bay has been declared a “Tree City USA” by the Arbor Day Foundation.
This November, though the weather was mild, has brought the inevitable defoliation of the leafy suburb’s deciduous trees. The residents of the Bay are nothing if not punctilious about their responsibilities for the upkeep of their little parcels of this little community. On a recent pleasant Sunday afternoon, nearly every front lawn in the village had been cleared of fallen leaves, swept by homeowners to the curbside for removal by sanitation workers.
For good measure, these future compost piles were also heaped with the remnants of hostas and other groundcovers. Additionally, the mounds were topped by the cornstalks and pumpkins that had decorated the porches of the community just the week before. This is the sort of community where pumpkins and other decorative gourds are set neatly by the curb, intact, and not smashed in the street by Hooligans coming over the border from Glendale. Poor pumpkins, whisked away before even the first kiss of frost.
About Steve Novak
Steven Michael Novak got an early start playing basketball. His parents, Michael and Jeanne, “placed a mini basketball hoop above his baby crib and Steve started throwing the ball toward it in his first year,” as an ESPN story recounted.
“When Steve was in grade school, he took things to a whole other level. In the basement of the Novak residence, which consisted of a play area and TV setup, Steve’s parents installed an adjustable hoop on two suspension poles. Even during Packers games — the Novaks are big fans — Steve’s parents could hear him downstairs taking shot after shot.
“Starting at age 6, Steve was already setting goals for himself. On a chalkboard, he would write “500” or “1,000” — and those weren’t for attempts.
“‘He would count how many shots he made, not how many he shot,’ Michael told ESPNNewYork.com.”
Michael soon installed a shooting device “that attached to the bottom of the backboard and automatically passed balls to where Steve was standing, or a spot he would be moving to (like a tennis machine).”
Novak attended Marquette University, where as a freshman, he played in the Final Four, alongside future NBA players Dwyane Wade and Travis Diener. By his senior year Novak led the team in points per game (17.5), averaged 5.9 rebounds per game and shot 97.4 percent from the foul line. His top performances included a 41-point, 16-rebound effort in Marquette’s 94–79 upset of then #2 UConn in Marquette’s inaugural Big East contest.
Drafted with the 32nd pick in 2006 by the Houston Rockets, Novak has had an up-and-down pro career, but has endured for more than a decade, while playing with eight different NBA teams before signing with the Bucks. His reliable three point shot has been the main reason Novak has continued to play. His peak year was undoubtedly with the New York Knicks in the “Linsanity” year, when point guard Jeramey Lin set Novak up with lots of pinpoint passes. At the end of the 2011-12 NBA season, Novak led the league in 3-point percentage at 47.2 percent and tied Kevin Durant for third in total 3-point shots made. The following season, his turnover percentage of 2.63 turnovers committed per 100 plays led the league, and was the lowest single-season mark in league history — just what you would expect from a coach’s son.
Steven Novak — A Good Citizen who Votes
Novak cast an absentee ballot for the November 2016 General Election. It was received by the Village Clerk on October 26th.
- Owner: Steve and Christina Novak
- Location: Village of Whitefish Bay
- Neighborhood: Klode Park
- Subdivision: Continuation of Lawndale Subdivision
- Year Built: 2003
- Architect: None Found
- Style: Contemporary traditional with conspicuous garage element on facade.
- Size: 2,123 (main area) + 1,925 (basement area) = 4,048 square feet finished living area.
- Fireplaces: 1
- Rec Room: Of course
- Assessment: Land: 5,227 square foot lot (.12 acres) is valued at $127,200 ($24.33 per square foot). Improvements: $629,300. Total assessed valuation: $756,500.
- Taxes: $17,481.38 Paid in Full on the Installment Plan.
- Garbage Collection Route and Schedule: Thursday (Orange)
- Polling Location: Whitefish Bay Village Library, 5420 N Marlborough Drive.
- Aldermanic District: N/A. Community run by 6-member village board who serve at large.
- County Supervisor District: 3; Sheldon A. Wasserman
- Walk Score: 55 out of 100 “Somewhat Walkable” City of Milwaukee Average: 61. This is a suburb of regular rectangular blocks on a grid. Silver Spring Drive, a major shopping street is nearby. Lots of kids bicycle here.
- Transit Score: Could not be determined. City of Milwaukee average: 49.
How Milwaukee Is It? The residence is 6 miles north of Milwaukee City Hall.
The Rundown was researched by Jordan Garcia