Monday, January 15, 2007

Discover Chicago's Northwest Side

The above title sounds innocent and pedestrian enough, but you should know me better.
The Chicago Tribune ran a story concerning the religious epiphany many soon to be buyers/home owners are having; there is a Northwest Side to the city. However, the story misses the boat on where it is really happening and hops to some neighborhoods that will be a tough sell to a Lincoln Parker or Lakeview aficionados. These of the home buyers the author seems to be suggesting are moving to the "sticks".

The author of the story more realistically alludes to the corridor of West Irving Park Road west of North Western Avenue (say that three times fast!). The story mentions a few developments. Several at the not- very-far -out locations sprawling from the 2700 block West Irving Park Road to the 3300 block west (the later apparently is considered a dream by the young buyers in the story). My favorite quote from one of my fellow Realtors describes the 2700 block of Irving Park Road… making it such a paradise that "you don’t even know you’re in the city"… except that you live on Irving Park Road.

Now, I consider myself the Northwest Side expert in our brokerage… pushing the boundaries of our Lincoln Park office. I was born and now live on the Northwest Side and giggle a bit when 2700 West is considered “just in reach”. A couple more observations for the reader of this story…

The Irving corridor has developed past Western Avenue and I agree that this should be on the radar. But new construction heading out all the way to Pulaski will still cost you (in most cases) 309K and up exponentially for two bed, two baths with parking at about 1200 sq/ft. This stretch is terrible for train access, so plan on taking the bus. You have to live all the way up in Old Irving around 4200 West to catch a train, and there is little condo stock here. I did sell my clients a three bedroom two bath, 1800 sq/ft awesome rehab in a three flat (super rare) on Keeler. But the units that make it worth pushing out there are still $350K plus and must be near the train.

The single family houses, move-in quality around the train, start at $450,000K and will need some work. Nice place though, if you want a nice single family home for $500K and-up to settle down- but still live in the city near hotter neighborhoods. Not much to do as far as retail/restaurants, but the parks are terrific.

The story completely missed out on Lawrence Avenue heading west from North Western Avenue. This is farther north than Irving Park Road (so should fall in the boom of the great Northwest Side) and one of the more interesting transformations in the city. This stretch all the way out to Kimball (and a few blocks west) offers access to the Brown Line along with buses and easy out to 90/94 if you need it. It’s here that you are seeing the greatest amount of conversions and new construction, combined with a ready made retail/entertainment district that can extend from Lincoln Square.

Lawrence Avenue from Lincoln Square through Albany Park, and the surrounding blocks, has the most amount of development… stretching all the way to Jefferson Park.

My take… just try to get a Lakeview or Lincoln Parker looking to buy a condo to push out to Norwood Park! Sorry Norwood Park. Basically, the Tribune article makes a good point… condo developments happen West of Western and North of Irving Park Road. But not in great numbers once you pass Kedzie or Kimball Avenue going west or northwest of Foster and Western. A lot of these northwest areas are still sleepy when it comes to retail and entertainment clusters, but offer nice single family homes close to transportation downtown… sometimes close to transportation downtown I should say.

I like to be creative with my North Sider clients’ home search, but I’m not sure most are ready for Peterson Park, Sauganash, Edison Park, North Park, Jefferson Park, Norwood Park….even Rogers Park, Albany Park, Edgewater, Mayfair, North Mayfair...

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