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Old 05-29-2019, 12:32 PM
 
1 posts, read 784 times
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Looking at the gentrification taking place across previously blighted but amenity rich areas, what's the outlook for Chicago's edge cities?

The way I see it these towns all have great bones, with urban walk able downtown surrounded by walk able neighborhoods filled with great housing stock. They all have great rail access to downtown Chicago, which could hopefully be made even better (faster) if this country ever decides to fund infrastructure.

I look at houses for sale in these towns and it seems like they all have amazing older homes walking distance to (what could be) vibrant commercial areas. As people continue to get priced out of trendier neighborhoods in the city proper, and more suburbanites look for Urban Amenities (without necessarily wanting to move to the city) will these look like attractive alternatives? Is it possible that suburban based companies will skip over office parks in places like Schaumburg and Bolingbrook for places like downtown Aurora and Joliet in order to attract talent?

These towns all seem to be investing in bringing business attractions and residents to their downtown areas, so could these cities gentrify the way we've seen other urban areas?
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Old 05-31-2019, 03:56 AM
 
Location: The Middle West
1,197 posts, read 781,749 times
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I've always wondered why specifically downtown Aurora has never been gentrified and given a life by hipsters and techy people. Its two biggest benefits are being the western terminus of the BNSF Metra line (by far the busiest Metra line in the whole system), and also its proximity to fairly wealthy suburbs like Naperville, Batavia, and Oswego. Aurora also has a decent warehouse/manufacturing presence, specifically along I-88. It's downtown is also set up in a way, dense, fairly tall and old buildings with the beautiful Fox River right there, that you'd think would easily be attractive to hipsters who'd want to open up a brewery or coffee shop there, but it just doesn't happen for whatever reason.

IMO there's so much potential for urban growth in Aurora, yet its downtown core remains a largely desolate, depressing ghost town with little development, while all the growth seems to only be happening on the sprawly outer edges the town. There's a casino, a small branch of a community college, and a couple of (mostly Mexican) restaurants, and that's it. Occasionally Kesha might perform at the Paramount Theater, but that's all that currently attracts people to the downtown (and gambling of course). There's definitely a lot of opportunity for development there, but nobody has stepped in to make it happen yet.

Aurora's crime has also gotten better than it was several years ago, though it's still a problem in some parts (especially near downtown). That very well may be the reason why growth has been slow to non-existent there. That, or hipsters are still more in to transforming Chicago neighborhoods over these outer-suburban cities with, let's face it, not nearly as much going on.

Many people still view all three of these cities as largely "ghetto" places to go to and gamble, as each city has a casino in it (Harrah's in Joliet, Hollywood in Aurora, GV in Elgin). I do think change could be in the future, but as it stands right now, none of them are doing much to rapidly transform their cores. The focus for too long in these places has been on expanding the sprawl around the city, not developing the inner core. Until government makes the decision to build inward, these places will likely continue to be viewed as fringe suburban "casino cities" with little individual character outside of being "a big suburb of Chicago".

On a side note, if the BNSF is expanded further west into Oswego and Yorkville, that could help development of downtown Aurora; a short commute from those towns to a *potentially* booming future Aurora would be gold for a lot of workers in that area, as well as Aurora itself.

Last edited by CCrest182; 05-31-2019 at 04:14 AM..
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Old 05-31-2019, 08:44 AM
 
Location: Elgin, IL
726 posts, read 550,249 times
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I don't have much to contribute here other than saying we live on the west side of elgin (near randall) and I've always thought Elgin had some really nice historic type areas as well as a pretty cool downtown area (despite being a bit outdated). I do wish it would gentrify more.
My wife loves going to the library with our kids but it's unfortunately doesn't always feel safe visiting the splash pad area with our kids (unless I'm with them). Overall we like Elgin and would like to see it grow and be "reborn" but it does still have it's rough patches.
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Old 05-31-2019, 10:58 AM
 
Location: Chicago
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This is a question about the places we see as being "edge cities". And, yes, I certainly would put Elgin, Aurora, and Jolliet right up there at the top of the list.

But two others come in mind that perhaps with the three river towns are part of an arc that marks the peripheral area of Chicagoland.

One choice is better than the other...with Waukegan being the one with the advantage and Kankakee being the other, it being the most remote, furthest out and least Chicago area connected.

And if the future is the issue....could even the mess that Waukegan long ago made of both its harbor and the general lakefront be cleaned up in a way to make it an attractive area for high end growth.
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Old 05-31-2019, 03:27 PM
 
Location: The Middle West
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Joliet most certainly has the most vibrant and busiest downtown of the three. Joliet has an independent baseball team near downtown, Harrah's (which includes a hotel), Rialto Square Theater, more government focused buildings, and also the relatively famous/cult classic restaurant "Chicken-N-Spice" (which I personally have not tried but really need to). There's also a diner and a couple bars which don't seem as isolated as the ones in Aurora. Its history of being a mid sized city that Route 66 ran/runs through also gives it some kind of personality/fame that the other cities do not have. I'm glad to see Joliet finally moving away from its historic "ghetto" and "prison" stereotypes/image (even though the baseball is literally called "the slammers"). I also forgot that Joliet has not only Metra service (albeit one of the lines with the lowest frequencies), but it also has Amtrak service as well. That's another plus over the other cities.

Don't know much about Elgin, but Aurora and Joliet are both slowing their growth in the sprawly parts, which may be a good sign that city planners will begin to look at further developing the downtowns instead of annexation on the fringe parts and building more suburban sprawl on the edges.

Waukegan is definitely another city that could be classed the same as these cities. Kankakee is much more separated so I wouldn't necessarily compare it to the cities.
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Old 05-31-2019, 08:35 PM
 
2,235 posts, read 5,361,183 times
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Aurora is gentrifying quite well, and definitely has the most vibrant downtown. The Paramount has a much busier schedule then the Rialto, including an award winning Broadway series.
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.chi...ory,amp.htmlhe new arts center
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bro...une-1-20190521
Retail, housing and restaurants
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.chi...story,amp.html
First Friday's, Riveredge Park, museums and more
Front Page Aurora Downtown | SSA #One | Aurora, Ill
The first pride parade outside Chicago
https://www.aurorapride.org/
New live music venue
https://www.chicagotribune.com/subur...531-story.html
Best city to live the American dream
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.chi...story,amp.html
Several new higher end restaurants on the way
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.chi...story,amp.html
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.chi...story,amp.html

Last edited by prairiestate; 05-31-2019 at 08:49 PM..
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Old 05-31-2019, 08:54 PM
 
2,235 posts, read 5,361,183 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CCrest182 View Post
I've always wondered why specifically downtown Aurora has never been gentrified and given a life by hipsters and techy people..that you'd think would easily be attractive to hipsters who'd want to open up a brewery or coffee shop there, but it just doesn't happen for whatever reason.

IMO there's so much potential for urban growth in Aurora, yet its downtown core remains a largely desolate, depressing ghost town with little development, while all the growth seems to only be happening on the sprawly outer edges the town. There's a casino, a small branch of a community college, and a couple of (mostly Mexican) restaurants, and that's it. Occasionally Kesha might perform at the Paramount Theater, but that's all that currently attracts people to the downtown (and gambling of course). There's definitely a lot of opportunity for development there, but nobody has stepped in to make it happen yet.
...I do think change could be in the future, but as it stands right now, none of them are doing much to rapidly transform their cores..
😆 You haven't been to Aurora in about 20 years, have you?
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Old 05-31-2019, 11:49 PM
 
Location: The Middle West
1,197 posts, read 781,749 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prairiestate View Post
�� You haven't been to Aurora in about 20 years, have you?
I was there last year actually. The west part has a bit more going on, but the east part is still really depressing and to a large degree, desolate.

I think both sides can develop to become really great places, but it's just not there at the moment.

BTW, Basement of the Dead is an awesome haunted house if anyone here is in to that.
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Old 06-04-2019, 09:48 AM
 
49 posts, read 31,930 times
Reputation: 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by CCrest182 View Post
Joliet most certainly has the most vibrant and busiest downtown of the three. Joliet has an independent baseball team near downtown, Harrah's (which includes a hotel), Rialto Square Theater, more government focused buildings, and also the relatively famous/cult classic restaurant "Chicken-N-Spice" (which I personally have not tried but really need to). There's also a diner and a couple bars which don't seem as isolated as the ones in Aurora. Its history of being a mid sized city that Route 66 ran/runs through also gives it some kind of personality/fame that the other cities do not have. I'm glad to see Joliet finally moving away from its historic "ghetto" and "prison" stereotypes/image (even though the baseball is literally called "the slammers"). I also forgot that Joliet has not only Metra service (albeit one of the lines with the lowest frequencies), but it also has Amtrak service as well. That's another plus over the other cities.

Don't know much about Elgin, but Aurora and Joliet are both slowing their growth in the sprawly parts, which may be a good sign that city planners will begin to look at further developing the downtowns instead of annexation on the fringe parts and building more suburban sprawl on the edges.

Waukegan is definitely another city that could be classed the same as these cities. Kankakee is much more separated so I wouldn't necessarily compare it to the cities.

Joilet has 2 Metra lines- although one is very infrequent.


I think that Aurora definitely has the most potential to gentrify. The jobs need to be there first though. Between St Charles, Batavia, Geneva, and even North Aurora that whole area of the Fox River is very nice.


It's strange how so similar the larger Metra terminus exurbs are. Waukegan probably has the least hope, at least until they do something with that lakefront.
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Old 06-15-2019, 12:32 AM
 
11 posts, read 5,114 times
Reputation: 15
The three cities are becoming more exurban, with new housing constructions. Joliet even extends west of 55, and Elgin extends west of the fox river
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