Home Buying in Wicker Park>Question Details

Brian Halas, Home Buyer in 60610

Ashland between North and Milwaukee - on the way up?

Asked by Brian Halas, 60610 Mon Apr 14, 2008

I'm considering the purchase of a duplex one-half block west of Ashland between North and Milwaukee. At the moment, this stretch of Ashland is a little sketchy. Any insight as to whether this area will improve?

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i have lived in this area for 10 years (blackhawk and ashland). It has gotten a lot better, but it can still be a little sketchy... my bedroom window faces ashland, and if i ever stay home and go to sleep early on a friday or saturday night, there is a pretty decent chance at some point i will be woken up by something you dont want to be around (a fight, a gunshot, etc). My front door or garage gets 'tagged' (graffitti) monthly.

I think it's fine as long as you don't plan on walking around there alone late at night on a regular basis and have a stomach for 'urban living'.

Considering the economy and housing, I think it will stay the same for the foreseeable future. the restaurant that used to be at the corner of blackhawk and ashland closed (le brochette), as have the restaurants before that (Stevie B's ribs, an italian restaurant, Duks).... i think it's one of those corners that has problems getting a sucessful business going.

There is the half built grey 'castle' right on ashland that has sat there for years not built; and less than 5 years ago, someone was gunned down right outside the parking lot of Carniceria Guanajuato (late at night, unrelated to the business).
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 25, 2009
I’ve lived in this area, half a block west of Ashland, for five years. I think Ashland will only get better – but it’s hard to say how much better and how quickly. I think the traffic on Ashland will always present a challenge to its development, though I think people will still move there since Wicker Park isn’t getting any bigger, less popular, or cheaper. But in terms of safety, I’ve never had a problem on Ashland or anywhere west. I’d have reservations about living immediately west of Mexican grocer or other businesses, but that’s about it.

My wife and I make it a point not to walk the streets east of Ashland, but even that’s changing as many as people continue to look for affordable options close to Wicker Park, and many owners have already moved there – it’s easily 10-20% cheaper than being in “Wicker Park proper” west of Ashland.

On Ashland, I think the rim shop, the Mexican grocery, the laundry mat, and the “Base-ment” bring a collection of people that are “different” – people many urban professionals (like me) don’t feel comfortable with, but I don’t think that makes it unsafe. There’s a church at Paulina and LeMoyne that runs a soup kitchen which attracts and unsavory looking crew to the area, but even those people have never caused a problem to my knowledge. Besides, I like to think that having an accepting viewpoint of some of these people is what made Wicker Park the interesting eclectic place that it is.

I know there were recently plans to put a Starbucks at Blackhawk and Ashland, but I think traffic concerns quashed that. Joseph Reed and Assoc. have bought-up much of the real estate along Milwaukee near Ashland, and there is a lot of redevelopment occurring there. The economy has seemed to slow that redevelopment – for example, I know there was a third restaurant meant to go near Toco and Blue Coral Sushi – but give it time. There are also discussions for the city to redevelop “Polish Square” that sits on top of the Division stop into some type of theater, park or other public space, which will be nice. There’s a very large condo development going in at Ashland and Division – you can check the MLS for details. The tall co-op building at Milwaukee and Division has a bad reputation for “impacting” the neighborhood east of Ashland, but I can’t say how much of that is deserved since there’s still a lot of sub-standard rental housing in that area that has yet to be renovated, which will tend to attract the “wrong” kind of people.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 13, 2009
I can tell you is that this area has been popular the past few years as far as leasing goes. Many people who wanted to rent/live right in Wicker Park but realized how overpriced it had become started to go a little east and west of the area (yet still be within a short walk/bike ride) To give you an idea; Western used to be the "magic line" for many people when it came to renting in Wicker Park, no one wanted to cross it. Last year I had quite a few clients who were moving a block west of Western due to the lower prices and semi close proximity to the park. Over time, there's the possibility that the good renters will attract good buyers and the area will improve, but nothings guranteed. The best thing for you to do would be to check out http://www.everyblock.com, or just walk down Paulina on a Saturday afternoon and maybe chat up some people in the neighborhood. Owners like Shnothauzen who live on that stretch will be the best people to tell you what changes they've seen since they moved in.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 5, 2009
From someone who has lived in the area for over 6 years, I would say considering what is happening in the market right now, it's going to be a long time till this area improves. It's more than a little sketchy, it's downright dangerous in some parts. There are a lot of "undesirables" still lurking in the area, and the proximity to Ashland doesn't help.

That said, if you have a stomach for it, this area will eventually turn. There are plenty of run down inexpensive multi-family homes that at some point people will come in and buy them up and convert them.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 5, 2009
More important than subjective prognostications as to when the mattress shop on Ashland will relocate or the hubcap place will move to Elston is what your gut tells you about living a half block west of Ashland. Personally I don't need to be within walking distance of the Hollywood Diner. But maybe that's where you would like to be. If you are working with a realtor with respect to this purchase I suggest you ask him whether there's fall off in his/her view regarding being 1600 West or 1700 West, and whether there's any difference between LeMoyne and Julian and Beach. From my perspective there is a palpable difference between these blocks and the 1600 and 1700 blocks of each just as there is a difference regarding Wood Street between Milwaukee and North. The other question is whether you are considering a duplex up or a duplex down. The up has more upside than the down. And the down, to be a player regarding your exit strategy needs to have radiant heated lower level floors, professional grade appliances, a garage space, and several other upgrades to be a responsible purchase/investment.

Best of luck with your decision and purchase.

Tom McCarey
The Real Estate Lounge . Chicago
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 14, 2008
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