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Thread summary:

Buying a house: Oak Park, Chicago, new homes, renting, lead paint poisoning.

 
Old 12-28-2007, 09:56 PM
 
2 posts, read 9,206 times
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We're considering buying a new home in the southwest corner of Oak Park. We're not from the OP area and are looking for some points of view on the neighborhoods that make up the southwest corner of the city (the area bordered by Harlem on the west, Roosevelt on the south, Oak Park on the east, and 290 on the north).

Specifically, does it seem like this area of OP is gentrifying? What kind of trends do you see there? We're seeing some tear downs, new homes being built, and sales prices in the $750-850k range. We're interested in knowing what it means to buy there as opposed to the areas north of Lake Ave.

BTW, we have never lived in the burbs...we're lifetime city dwellers (San Francisco, Chicago, NY).

Many thanks!
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Old 12-29-2007, 07:34 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aebs View Post
We're considering buying a new home in the southwest corner of Oak Park. We're not from the OP area and are looking for some points of view on the neighborhoods that make up the southwest corner of the city (the area bordered by Harlem on the west, Roosevelt on the south, Oak Park on the east, and 290 on the north).

Specifically, does it seem like this area of OP is gentrifying? What kind of trends do you see there? We're seeing some tear downs, new homes being built, and sales prices in the $750-850k range. We're interested in knowing what it means to buy there as opposed to the areas north of Lake Ave.

BTW, we have never lived in the burbs...we're lifetime city dwellers (San Francisco, Chicago, NY).

Many thanks!
My family has been in Oak Park since 1942 although I no longer live in Oak Park, but for what it's worth north of Lake Street has ALWAYS been more desirable and always will be. The entire village is considered to be almost FULLY gentrified. The farther west you are and the farther north, the better it is considered to be.
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Old 12-31-2007, 10:57 AM
 
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I agree with the bungalowdweller on these points. I know several people with high six-figure incomes who now live in the once less desirable parts of Oak Park. There are still pockets of low-income renters, however, so you probably want to check out your neighborhood at all times of day to see what it's like. The Southwest part of town is not one of these pockets, however. One thing I would add to bungalowdweller's points above: The lot sizes in Oak Park get quite a bit larger north of Madison Street. The area between Madison and Lake Street includes Washington Blvd. which has many appartment buildings. This was for a long time an area filled with low-income renters, and as a result, some gang activity. Many of these old vintage apartment buildings have now been converted into condos, so Washington Blvd. has improved drastically. However, Madison Street still seems to attract more criminals and panhandlers--partially because of the easy access from the Austin neighborhood in Chicago.

I have family in Oak Park who have been there since the 50s, so I have visited quite often over the years and have seen the changes. I have been researching Oak Park for quite some time and am also looking south of the Ike for affordability reasons. I have a couple of close friends who grew up in the souther part of town--one by Rehm Park and the other closer to Harlem. Both still love the neighborhood and are considering moving back there with their own kids (they are currently in the city with toddlers). My only concerns about the area are (1) Staying away from Roosevelt Road because of loud traffic, and (2) Staying 300 feet from the Ike for pollution reasons. Since the entire area south of the Ike is about three blocks wide, this severely limits my options!
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Old 12-31-2007, 01:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Lookout Kid View Post
However, Madison Street still seems to attract more criminals and panhandlers--partially because of the easy access from the Austin neighborhood in Chicago.
(2) Staying 300 feet from the Ike for pollution reasons. Since the entire area south of the Ike is about three blocks wide, this severely limits my options!
I would disagree with the assessement of the Madison St. corridor. I lived in an apt. at Washington and Scoville during the previous 3 years (I now live near South Blvd and Taylor) and spent alot of time around the Ridgeland/Madison intersection and shopped almost exclusively at the Madison St. Jewel Store. During all the time, I never once had any interaction with "criminals" and had never seen a panhandler. I don't really understand where you have seen these people, and I have been out at all times of day and night. And let's watch the assumptions about "renters=low income=bad".

As for the "3 blocks" between the Ike and Roosevelt, those are 3 very long north/south blocks. I think each block is approximately 600 feet long, so you shouldn't be too limited.

Now, back to the original quesition: I think Oak Park has been "gentrified" for about 20 decades, depending on one's definition of "gentrified". You really can't do bad anywhere in southwest Oak Park. And I actually view Roosevelt as an assest than the negative that sometimes is applied to it.
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Old 12-31-2007, 01:59 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mendelman View Post
I would disagree with the assessement of the Madison St. corridor. I lived in an apt. at Washington and Scoville during the previous 3 years (I now live near South Blvd and Taylor) and spent alot of time around the Ridgeland/Madison intersection and shopped almost exclusively at the Madison St. Jewel Store. During all the time, I never once had any interaction with "criminals" and had never seen a panhandler. I don't really understand where you have seen these people, and I have been out at all times of day and night. And let's watch the assumptions about "renters=low income=bad".

As for the "3 blocks" between the Ike and Roosevelt, those are 3 very long north/south blocks. I think each block is approximately 600 feet long, so you shouldn't be too limited.

Now, back to the original quesition: I think Oak Park has been "gentrified" for about 20 decades, depending on one's definition of "gentrified". You really can't do bad anywhere in southwest Oak Park. And I actually view Roosevelt as an assest than the negative that sometimes is applied to it.
It's all relative. Madison and Lake sort of have spikes in crime occasionally, but I didn't mean to imply that these areas are unsafe. It's just that you may have a slight increase in trouble compared to other more insulated parts of the village because of the access. If you look at the Oak Park crime maps provided by the police department, they verify this. I certainly wouldn't shy away from the area, though. It's all relatively crime-free compared to a "safe" city neighborhood like Lakeview where muggings occur quite frequently by comparison.

And yes, low income renters in large numbers almost always coincide with a higher crime rate. Of course all poor people aren't criminals, but there is a close corrolation between low-income housing and crime. Sorry--it's just the way it is.
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Old 12-31-2007, 02:18 PM
 
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aebs--

I'm a resident of the SW Oak Park neighborhood, and some of what's being said here is not true-- or needs context.

SW Oak Park-- the area roughly bordered by Oak Park Ave. (E), Roosevelt (S), Eisenhower (N), and Harlem (W), is certainly, by almost any measure, a very safe and family-oriented neighborhood. Not sure I'd say it's "gentrying" (seems gentrified), but there is some new home activity in the area. A couple of new homes were recently built in the region around Home St. that listed in the range you list above. While not unprecedented, the price of these houses are above the normal house costs and may have an affect on the area.

Generally, the housing stock is good (most old circa 1900-1920s) with a lot of rehabs. I really have seen any knock-downs; most commonly see restores or rehabs. There are all types of arch. vernaculars, but the area lends itself to bungalows (restored or modified), Queen Annes, 4-squares and a few Gundersons (OP-centric architecture). Most of the house are modest, but quite nice and many are more spacious than would appear externally. As a previous poster mentioned, the lot sizes are larger in north OP.

As far as noise from the Ike and Roosevelt, I live roughly between the two and have never heard traffic noise other than the occasional siren. In fact, the only noise one really hears is from the Metra/freight train horns along the line running through Berwyn. A previous poster mentioned correctly that the north/south orientation of the four blocks are very long.

Schools in the area are very good (Lincoln) and there are also some good parks (Carroll, Maple). There is something to be desired for local retail but the Oak Park Ave. satellite downtown is nice-- and walkable-- and you can easily walk to the Oak Park Blue Line stop. While Roosevelt is a main drag, it is not as bad as people might have you believe. Think Western Ave. w/out the used car/tire dealerships. Fitzgeralds and Wishbone are also on Roosevelt which counts for something.

We moved from Chicago and have come to love the area. Hope you make the decision to move into the neighborhood.
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Old 12-31-2007, 09:08 PM
 
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Default Thanks everyone!

Appreciate all the perspectives...

We are in fact considering some of that new home construction that you mention. However, the price goes quite a bit higher than homes sold in that area in the past several years. The pricing is not quite the same, but just a touch below what you'd see in the northwest portion of Oak Park. So, while the property is beautiful, we don't know whether we'd be paying too much, or whether we'd be among the first for a trend in the neighborhood.

I guess these questions aren't all that different than most people looking in a neighborhood!
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Old 01-26-2008, 02:38 PM
 
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Default careful of lead paint

Oak Park has a lot of nice older houses, to be sure, but for people looking to move here with (or to have) kids, be mindful of the issue of lead-based paint. For all the talk of lead in toys, lead-based paint is still the No. 1 source of lead poisoning in kids. I've known several families who assumed it was more a problem among low-income families (with some truth, because they're more likely to live in old houses/apartments with peeling paint), but then renovated a cool old house only to expose their own kids. I only say this re: Oak Park because so many people buy here in gentrifying areas with the idea of rehabbing and raising a family, but of course it's true in any older area.

In some cases, new might be better.
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