Friday, December 29, 2006

Clark Street development booming in Uptown

Great post today by Barry Pearce of Yo Chicago pointing out the development along North Clark Street in Uptown. The stretch of North Clark from Montrose to Lawrence is shaping up... with rather large new construction condo developments with more pedestrian friendly retail and atmosphere. Let's call it Wrigleyville North!

Several developments already exist and units are available for immediate closings. Others are just starting, while others still- empty lots waiting to rise up (with a few pre-sales maybe...).

I ride this stretch quite a bit and have watched the mini boom of new construction. The post discusses quality retail should boom here as well, joining the wholesalers famous for the area. I think the area could use a mainstream bar and restaurant to help draw attention to the existing spots. It will be interesting to see how the "vanilla box" storefront here draw retailers. The best scenario would be a mini Roscoe Village effect.

In that hood, rather good sized new construction projects sprang up just west of North Seely to North Western Ave., and retail moved in. Roscoe Village retained some existing buildings and existing retail and restaurants, and new retailers moved in with the increased density. I see this possibly happening on the Clark stretch in Uptown, however, you may have a situation of empty retail storefronts in new and existing buildings that we see on North Lincoln Avenue between Montrose and Irving Park Rd. The hot spot is north of this area and many businesses have not cut it in this "slow" zone.

For instance, you have the dense area of Wrigleyville bars, shops and restaurants. So, is there demand for a mini hot spot from Montrose to Lawrence? I think there is an opportunity to put in more bohemian shops/restaurants to match the more chill area west of Ashland.

Here's a good comment posted concerning the story. This reader tagged "Eagle" describes the area in the positive light that I think it deserves:

Eagle Said:
"In 2004 I trod the well-worn path from Detroit to Chicago, and I rented near Ashland and Diversey for about a year. When looking to buy in late 2005, I must have viewed 50 condos in Lakeview and Bucktown/Wicker Park. Because the area bounded by Clark, Ravenswood Ave, Montrose, and Irving Park is technically part of Lakeview Township (for property tax purposes), my online searches for “Lakeview Condo" also picked up the few condos along Hermitage and Paulina.

Even though the area was only two miles north of where I was renting, I had never visited it. Right or wrong, for many who first venture into Chicago, exploration often stops north of Irving Park.

In the end I bought in the East Ravenswood area (just east of the Montrose Brown Line stop), and I really love living there. The deep lots (~165 x 30) are truly awesome for Chicago and give the feeling of open space. Most of the homes are from the late 1800’s / early 1900’s, and almost all of them have been rehabbed. When open, the Montrose L stop is very convenient to the Loop (but bring a magazine or book – the trip is about 25 minutes). For the next year I’ll be walking down Hermitage to get to the Irving Park stop, but it is a pleasant walk. Other benefits of Ravenswood include real estate prices that are 15-20% less than places just south of Irving Park. Anyone who thinks that Ravenswood is “sketchy" either a) simply hasn’t walked the area in a long time or b) prefers to live in a homogenous bubble.

Well-constructed houses (older ones) now cost at least $700,000, but there are some pretty large condos that couples can still buy at a reasonable price. And if kids eventually enter the picture, Ravenswood’s parks and tranquility make the suburbs an option, not a necessity. The Chicago public schools will only continue to improve, and the Catholic schools are a bargain at approximately $4k per year per kid. If we consider that most families have two cars in the suburbs, their payments, insurance, and gasoline for two cars likely total $900 to $1000 per month. Catholic school for two kids at $670 total per month doesn’t sound so bad, especially if the family has one 2001 model vehicle in the garage that doesn’t have car payments.

I believe most would agree that the area is safe. Sure, graffiti pops up with relative frequency (last week someone tagged my sidewalk – my sidewalk!, but the city power-washed it within three days), and car break-ins are typical for a city neighborhood. But that’s going to happen in the city. In my mind, the two key safety factors to consider are robbery rates (“give me your wallet") and open drug dealing on the streets. On these measures, East Ravenswood is fine.

I’m glad to see Clark developing between Wilson and Lawrence. After the Brown Line stop opens at Montrose, I expect retail and condo development to take off on Montrose between Clark and Damen. It’s a nice enough strip right now, if a little dowdy. It would be great to have a few more bars within walking distance. There is big opportunity for retailers and developers eying Montrose. It has a convenient L stop and is smack in between Lincoln Square, Clark/Wilson, Wrigleyville, and the Southport Corridor. People who invest near Clark/Wilson and the Montrose Brown Line stop should see appreciation at rates as high or higher than most other areas on the North Side. Ravenswood will probably never be an “it" area, but it will only keep getting better.

Well put.

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