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Old 04-04-2007, 10:13 PM
 
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We are trying to decide between two new construction properties... both have big pros and big cons and we are tearing our hair out trying to decide. I'm hoping to get some objective advice or just opinions from people who know about or live in these areas.

Both properties are 2 bed, 2 bath and both have high end finishes (stainless, granite, walk in closets, steam showers, etc.). The Bucktown property is located on Armitage, just west of Damen, so it's within steps from some of the best shops, restaurants and nightlife in the city. However, currently only a shell of the building is up...so unfortunately we have no idea how the property will actually look when it's complete. But we have seen one other building the developer has done, and we love it. And the spec sheet makes it sound like a place we'll love as well.

The East Village property is the hottest property we've ever seen. It's absolutely perfect. The only problem is that it's ON Ashland, right at the intersection of Chicago & Ashland. This intersection is gritty and has absolutely no neighborhood appeal (unlike the Armitage & Damen address) ... but we fell in love with the place the moment we walked in. The neighborhood also feels a little less safe than the Armitage address, and it's a pretty sketchy stroll to anywhere we would want really want to hang out.

Both places are the same distance from the Blue line, which is important to know.

Perhaps most importantly, we're expecting the Armitage property to appreciate more than the Ashland address. Does anyone think otherwise? Does anyone have any opinions or advice regarding either property / neighborhood?
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Old 04-05-2007, 12:19 AM
 
Location: Chicago
38,704 posts, read 95,208,859 times
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I really am sorry my posts get long-winded at times folks, but here goes...

For starters, it would be dangerous for me to live just west of Armitage and Damen. That would put me right at the door step of The Map Room, one of the city's most renowned craft beer bars. I can drop (and have dropped) $80 in a single night at that place. I'm lucky I don't have as much time to go there as I used to, or I'd be even more broke than I already am.

Don't hold me to my word on this, but I'm not sure if I agree that the Armitage/Damen property is going to appreciate quicker than the Chicago/Ashland property. I would think there would be more room for appreciation in a neighborhood in the process of being gentrified than in one that's almost completely gentfrified. As long as you don't end up moving out again in just a couple years, I don't think appreciation would be a major concern at either location.

Here's how I look at your dilemma: you'll undoubtedly spend more time in your home than you will availing yourself of the amenities around it, no matter which place you decide on. So you should operate from the rebuttable presumption (forgive my lawyerese) that the Ashland and Chicago location is the logical choice.

Can a case be made against the Chicago/Ashland location in favor of the Armitage/Damen location? Perhaps, but the way I see it the case falls short. Here's why: you'll still live just a few blocks from the Blue Line that runs 24/7 that will take you up to Bucktown anytime you like within a matter of minutes -- subject, of course, to the train arriving at its own leisure. So you'll still have the convenience of Bucktown right at your fingertips and be in a pad you already know you'll love.

As for Ashland and Chicago being a bit of a rough patch. . . something worth considering is that the four-lane arteries through the city frequently look a little shabby, even if they're running through nice areas. Take a look at Western Avenue through Bucktown or Lincoln Square, or Irving Park through Lincoln Square, or Ashland Avenue through Andersonville. Not much to see in any of these cases, but just a block or two off the beaten path are true gems of neighborhoods with lively nightlife districts.

I really haven't figured out why this is yet -- maybe it has to do with aiding in a sense of neighborhood intamacy, or maybe it's just zoning -- but you'll find that most of the city's upscale bar/restaurant/nightlife strips are actually on two-lane thoroughfares: Rush Street; Clark Street through Lincoln Park, Wrigleyville and Andersonville; Lincoln Avenue through Lincoln Park, St. Ben's and especially Lincoln Square; Broadway and Halsted Avenues through Boystown; Southport Avenue through West Lakeview; Roscoe Avenue through Roscoe Village; Milwaukee Avenue through Wicker Park and Bucktown, and so on.

So right now you're viewing the neighborhood through the prism of the intersection of two four-lane thoroughfares. That's almost unfair; it's almost like looking at dust through a magnifying lens and deciding the whole house is filthy. Take a drive down some of the side streets to get a better feel for the character of the neighborhood. It's certainly true that you're not going to find a polished, gentrified gem of a nightlife area right off the main artery like you do in Andersonville, Lincoln Square, and so on. But I guess what I'm trying to get at is that the Chicago/Ashland corner probably looks a bit rougher than the rest of the neighborhood actually is. I can't quite visualize exactly what that corner looks like right now, but I know I've spent time even further west along Chicago Avenue -- between Damen and Western -- and felt little sense of anxiety at all. It probably helps that I'm a large male and not someone who looks like he's going to be easily intimidated by wannabe's. A regular poster here named j33 lives quite close to that area; she's probably in the best position to give you a more thorough analysis of it. I'm sure she'll chime in within the next day or two.

So yes, that area isn't a spit-polished gentrified neighborhood yet. But take a drive up and down some of the side streets, especially on a warm day when people are milling about, before making a judgment on the character of the neighborhood. I think it will give you a more complete picture. And if you decide it's not so bad after all, you'll still only be minutes from Bucktown.

Last edited by Drover; 04-05-2007 at 01:22 AM..
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Old 04-05-2007, 06:28 PM
j33
 
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While those two areas are somewhat close to each other, they have a very different feel about them. I wouldn't necessarily consider the area around Ashland and Chicago dangerous and that area is in serious transition in my opinion. However, if you are the sort of person that wants to live with boutiques and high end restaurants right outside your door, bucktown is your place (and of course there is the much lauded Map Room). That being said, I would rather live in a house I love a $7 taxi ride away from Bucktown in an area that is interesting in its own right than a house I just hope that I'll love.

However, Ashland is a very busy street, you have to think about how you'll feel about that as traffic can be loud, and I remember my own experiences living on busy streets getting frustrated because the traffic was so loud I couldn't hear my television. Not to mention, in the summertime when you open your windows, the dust and dirt from the street will relocate to your apartment. For that reason alone I would think long and hard about buying a place on the corner of such a busy intersection, least two years from now when you lay in bed listening to the #66 bus announce stops at 3am (it runs 24 hours) you really begin to wonder what you were thinking (and yes, you can hear the bus stop announcements from your apartment).

In my opinion, the jury is out on this one, even though I live in the area and prefer it to Bucktown (I have a hard time living in a neighborhood where I can't afford any of the stores, no this isn't a 'pity me' post, it is just that almost all those stores are designer boutiques and I live on an academic salary, and that is just simply how it is).

I am with Drover, if I lived too near Map Room, I would be in dire straits indeed, I LOVE that place, and living around the corner would be a very tempting proposition.
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Old 04-12-2008, 03:11 PM
 
5 posts, read 19,824 times
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Be careful about buying in a "yet-to-be-built" condo development. Many lenders are wary of lending on condos right now, and if you are the first one in, you may not be able to get your financing without a big downpayment.
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Old 04-12-2008, 04:37 PM
 
28,461 posts, read 78,144,490 times
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Default I'll be blunt -- you'd have to be insane...

Quote:
Originally Posted by BucktownDale View Post
Be careful about buying in a "yet-to-be-built" condo development. Many lenders are wary of lending on condos right now, and if you are the first one in, you may not be able to get your financing without a big downpayment.
Bucktown Dale is too polite. In this economic climate, where Washington Mutual has just sucked down a cool $8BILLION to try and stay afloat and they've shut their stand alone mortgage offices it is crazy to talk about buying an unfinished place. You could lose you shirt BIG TIME and then be stuck with a place that NEVER really gets finished and turns into a albatross. If the "construction loan" is tapped out the developer is going down the tubes...

Don't do it!

Even the other place is a HUGE FRIGGIN' RISK -- not just that you are going to have "slower appreciation" but that it'll be YEARS before somebody is willing to take it off your hands for ANYTHING!

Don't laugh, I'm old enough to remember folks who bought places in the first big condo explosion in the late 70's in decent enough areas of Chicago (and the burbs) and they had 20 years of prices that rippled along the bottom. Toss in assessments and taxes and nasty mortgage and this is a tale of financial woe...

Even now I have friends that have bought townhouses/condos in places as diverse Roscoe Village or Downers Grove near top of market in the past 3-4 years. Places that have been on the market all winter in the same complexes are getting ZERO offers, not even "will you sell under what you have in" BUT LITERALLY NO OFFERS of any kind. These are NICE PLACES with all the granite, SS and hardwood that anyone who is in a HGTV daze could want and NO ONE IS BUYING...

Think long and hard about how long you are willing to sit tight in place that you are shopping for right now, you could be worse than married to it for QUITE SOME TIME...
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Old 04-12-2008, 04:46 PM
 
Location: Chicago
15,587 posts, read 25,016,069 times
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Holy crap! I did not notice how old this thread is! Shame on me!

Last edited by Avengerfire; 04-12-2008 at 05:13 PM..
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Old 04-12-2008, 05:11 PM
 
Location: Chicago
38,704 posts, read 95,208,859 times
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Yet another year-old thread revived out of nowhere; originally posted by a hit-and-run poster no less, who apparently is not interested in what we have to say anyway.
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Old 04-12-2008, 09:22 PM
 
11,973 posts, read 29,398,919 times
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Maybe the sticky at the top of the board should say "Please look at the dates on threads before responding!". I like Drover's post, however. Though I would NEVER buy a place directly on Ashland in a million years.
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Old 04-12-2008, 09:25 PM
 
Location: Chicago
15,587 posts, read 25,016,069 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lookout Kid View Post
Maybe the sticky at the top of the board should say "Please look at the dates on threads before responding!". I like Drover's post, however. Though I would NEVER buy a place directly on Ashland in a million years.
I would as long as it is north of Madison.
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Old 04-12-2008, 09:51 PM
 
11,973 posts, read 29,398,919 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avengerfire View Post
I would as long as it is north of Madison.
Not me. It's a super-highway. But I agree with Drover that the particular stretch of Chicago Avenue is strangely intimate.
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