Bucktown West of Western Vs. East of Western

Asked by C, 60618 Sun Jan 4, 2009

I recently found a fantastic condo in Bucktown, West of Western. It is South of Fullerton, North of Millwaukee. It is clearly in an area with nice houses but it does not have some of the amenities that East of Western offers. AKA Cute restaurants are a mile a way versus being within the immediate block. I am wondering if there is a great difference between these areas in terms of price and resale etc.

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Christopher…, Agent, Chicago, IL
Sun Jan 4, 2009
Dear C,

Rather than refer to Bucktown (which I'd describe roughly as Ashland to Western and North Avenue to Diversey) I'll refer to census tracts (which s how most Realtor's search the Multiple Listing Service). The area that you're describing as West of Western, I'd probably refer to as Logan Square. However for the sake of this conversation, both Bucktown and Logan Square fall inside the West Town census tract.

Generally speaking the Logan Square part of the census tract will be lower priced than the Bucktown part of the census tract. If you're looking at a 3BR, 2BTH condo with parking, A/C and in-unit laundry, your average price in Logan Square is around 353K right now as opposed to about 488K in the Bucktown section of the census tract. In addition to the pricing differences, there will be a signficant difference in the number of units that are available to buy in each of the area.

If you are planning to buy and hold for quite a while, then you should see appreciation over time in either market area (even assuming a further slip in prices over all of 2009). But if you are planning to resell in just a few years, then you may want to take a harder look at how the "fantastic" place that you found might hold up price-wise compared to similar properties further East. As much as pricing is based on comparable properties that have sold within a certain radius of the property that you are considering, there is always a "perception" factor that can affect pricing as well.

You sound like you have a pretty good handle on the local area and what the appeals (and drawbacks) are for you. Do you think that most folks who are looking to buy in that area are doing so because of the amenities? If so then you may want to be in a resale position where you can more directly compete with units that might have a slight amenities proximity advantage over the one you're describing.

If you need any assistance locating or price-comparing your property to others in the area, then I'd be happy to speak with you. You can contact me directly via any of the information listed below. Good luck.

Christopher Thomas
Broker Associate, Sudler Sotheby's International Realty
773-418-0640 (cell)
Web Reference:  http://www.myagentchris.com
2 votes
Mike Long, Agent, Naperville, IL
Mon Jan 5, 2009
Hi C- Simple answer is this: Bucktown East of Western is Bucktown. Bucktown West of Western is not Bucktown. The coordinates for Bucktown are Ashland to Western (1600W-2400W) and North Avenue to Fullerton (1600N-2400W.) Now, if you want to get very technical some will say that Bucktowns Southern border is Wabansia or the Old Rail Line roughly 1650N.

West of Western depends on how far North or South of Armitage you are. If you are North of Armitage but West of Western you are in Logan Square. Head South of Armitage but West of Western and you are in Humoldt Park. You will sometimes hear Realtors call these areas just West of Western "West Bucktown." It doesn't exist. Just sounds nicer when trying to market a property.

Now to my advice. I'd try my hardest to stay North of Armitage if you are going to venture West of Western. Logan Square does a nicer job as far as overall neighborhood and resale. Once past Western I would actually try to get as close to the actaul Logan Square as I could. The Square is Kedzie and Logan Blvd or 3200W and 2600N. You are close to public transportation, shops, restaraunts, etc. Where you are talking about will be up for debate. While you are a mile away from shops and restaraunts I am wondering how close you are to CTA public trans? This will help you with resale as well. I like that you are South of Fullerton. Check the surrounding out at different times of day and night. See if all is as you expect it to be.

All of this is my opinion.....sold a lot in Bucktown and Logan with a few clients in Humboldt and I've always been more of a fan of Logan if heading West of Western. Good luck. Oh...last thought. There are 77 "community areas" in Chicago. Out of those 77 we get 228 "Chicago Neighborhoods" and nowhere will you find West Bucktown. The Bucktown Neighborhood is found in the Logan Square Community.
2 votes
John Diebel, , Chicago, IL
Thu Jan 8, 2009
C -

I'm with Mike on the opinion of Logan Square not being an "up and coming" area. It is an established area with solid home values. The key around there is staying close to transit. Get away from the train and shopping area and prices tend to drop.

Regarding buying in an "up and coming" area, there are never any guarantees, especially in today's market. I do feel that there are a couple of locations where prices were driven up a few years ago in anticipation of them being the "next big thing." These are the areas that suffer first in a down market. In spite of this, I do feel that there are some areas that have a bright future, but it might take a lot of time before you see a strong return. For me the key is always transportation. Drving isn't likely to become any easier or cheaper, and access to and EL or Metra station will only become more important in the future.

Regarding your decision of whether or not to buy a "shoebox" in North Center, how much are you looking to spend? We share a zip code (60618) and could give you a general sense of what your money will buy there.
1 vote
Mike Long, Agent, Naperville, IL
Wed Jan 7, 2009
C- These are good discussions. It's interesting when we talk Chicago Neighborhoods because there are a bunch of interpertations. One things for sure, Bucktown ends at Western. It's my favorite neighborhood in Chicago along with Wicker Park and surrounding areas.

To answer your question: No. I would not buy in an "up and coming" area. Those are the areas in the city that feel the effects of a bad market first. Now, with that being said I would not consider Logan Square "up and coming" at least not by the actual Square. John made a good point. If you look at the map of Logan Square it is HUGE. My brother bought a condo back in 2002 at 2350 N. Kedzie and he LOVES the neighborhood. He's walking distance to everything he needs. I have other friends at Fullerton and Kedzie as well and they like the neighborhood but are terribly dissapointed in their building.

Here is the simplest advice I can give. When it comes to Real Estate they always say the 3 most important things are 1. Location 2. Location 3. Location. Well, over the past 10 years or so while this has been true buying in bad locations became less risky. Now in the market we are in this has never been more true. The most important thing if you are viewing this mainly as an investment is going to be location. After that you can start dealing with what you can get in a good location. Popular neighborhoods are a safe bet.

Hope that helps. It's late and time for me to shut down. I wouldn't turn down the place just based off of what we say. Take our advice but ultimately your agent will be able to really lay down the pros and cons of anywhere you are looking to purchase.
1 vote
C, Home Buyer, 60618
Wed Jan 7, 2009
Thanks all for the great answers! We need to tell Trulia to fix their map because when you search for Bucktown, it extends all the way to California avenue!

To use the correct neighborhood name, I think I will be primarily looking to buy in "Logan Square". However, I have some mixed feelings about the area as an investment. I love the area (John, Lula is my fav restaurant!) but it still hasn't shaken a somewhat questionable reputation. I guess my questions is, Is it a smart idea to buy in an "up and coming" area in this economy? Or should I buy a shoe box in North Center? :)

I know the answer to this question is completely relative but I am enjoying the discussion and insights. If anyone has thoughts on this, please share! :)
1 vote
John Diebel, , Chicago, IL
Wed Jan 7, 2009
I agree with everything Mike says about the "West Bucktown" community. It exists only in the minds of marketing departments.

The only thing I would like to add is that when shopping in Logan Square you should be aware that it is a very large area. You can live there and be a block from public transit and within walking distance to everything you need, or a mile away from transit and having to drive everywhere. Because of this, I encourage people to look at properties that are a comfortable walking distance to the EL stops at Armitage and Western, Webster and California, or Logan and Kedzie. Even if you are not going to depend on the EL, proximity to a stop is important for resale, particularly as you get further from downtown.

As for your feelings that there are not enough nearby amenities, I would suggest spending a little more time exploring the area. You might find that there are more dining/drinking options that you first realized. California Ave. between Armitage and Logan Blvd. has quite a few restaurants and coffee shops now, and at the Logan/Kedzie intersection is Dunaly's (which has decent bar food), and the Lula Cafe (the best restaurant in the city for the money). Besides, if you get tired of your options there, you are only a couple of EL stops away from Wicker Park/Bucktown.

Good luck on your search.
1 vote
Amanda Sking…, , 60647
Tue Mar 24, 2009
I wanted to provide the website for the neighborhood refered to as "West Bucktown" http://www.westbucktown.org\
0 votes
Amanda Sking…, , 60647
Tue Mar 24, 2009
I read all your comments and agree completely. I actually live in what is being called "West Bucktown" which has borders of California, Western, Armitage & North Ave and the "neighborhood" obtained that name because of the neighborhood association. There is a very active neighborhood association that not only organizes events, but runs CAPS meetings, has several clean ups, etc. There is an active board for the association and they collect dues. I think because of the neighborhood association it has helped to define the area now known as "West Bucktown".
0 votes
Joe Zekas, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Sun Jan 18, 2009
I'm happy to see the consensus here about Bucktown's western boundary (Western Ave), and the skepticism about "West Bucktown," which I agree is a largely fictional neighborhood.

As someone, however, who remembers when Bucktown itself existed only in the imagination of real estate agents, I'd hold open the possibility that West Bucktown may also, at some point in the future, exist in fact.

In the meantime, the folks at YoChicago have 20-some years of experience distilled into what's as close as you'll find to an authoritative list of neighborhood boundaries. You'll find it in the form of a Google Knol, at the link below.
0 votes
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