Chicago - Albany Park

My fiancee and I are looking to buy a condo in Chicago. It seems the only place we can afford and still get some space is Albany Park. Anyone know much about this neighborhood? Is there a lot of redevelopment going on (there appears to be)? How fast is the appreciation? What direction is the neighborhood going in? Is the gentrification of Chicago pushing into this neighborhood now?

Thanks!

Technically, I live in Albany Park. The particular neighborhood I’m in is called Ravenswood Manor, and any condo listing in my neighborhood would use this designation, rather than Albany Park. R.M. is fairly nice. The governor’s home is there. Prices have doubled in the last six years. My sense is that prices elsewhere in A.P. have not risen as fast, but they have gone up significantly.

The rest of A.P. has its problems, but is on the upswing. Generally, the further east you go, the better off you are. There’s active condo development along Montrose, on Whipple, and in the neighborhood just south of Montrose and west of California. Look for something that’s not right up against a large apartment building, as some of these have issues.

Albany Park has an incredibly diverse ethnic community, which I and my fiance’ find stimulating. It’s also a few years behind the gentrification that has claimed the Lincoln Square area - you can spit and not hit a starbucks, which I find to be a bonus. But I’m sure that the gentrification will end up creeping through.

While a few years ago there were apparently some problems with drugs and gang activity, the local precinct has been steadily cracking down and the area has improved (this word-of-mouth from the guys who own the pizza place I frequent)

If we were in the position to buy, we’d probably be looking in our neighborhood: the Brown Line connects us anywhere downtown; it’s a straight shot up Lincoln to Skokie about 5 different shopping centers; it’s not that far from the freeways or the lake either.

We live in a six-flat, a building that our landlord gut-rehabed three years ago. He told us, candidly, that he’s made no money on the building from rent, but his plan was to make money on it when the area gentrifies. Seeing as he’s in the biz (buy-rehab-rent-sell) it makes sense to me.

FWIW

Thanks!! We’re looking up near Kedzie between Lawrence and Foster and also near Kedzie/Montrose. Not sure which is better, but from what Random says I’d think that the latter is probably a better bet?

If you go to http://12.17.79.6/, you can see crime instances within a certain radius for any address in the city of City of Chicago for any period of time up to two weeks long from any point during the past three months or so. That site is run by the Chicago Police Deparment and it shows all REPORTED crimes. When I was looking for my new place, I would consult that webiste all the time. Because there is crime everywhere, you should compare like time periods in your prospective neighborhood to a known “safe” neighborhood. For example, Lincoln Park is considered to be rather safe. Consider using the intersection of Armitage and Sheffield (1800 N. Sheffield or 1000 W. Armitage) as a “control” in your crime investigations. Happy hunting.

db

Well, we live over by Kedzie and Lawrence!

TBH, the people at the pizza place, and the nearby convenience store are of the opinion that South of the EL tracks and West of Kedzie is not the direction to go. . But. . there are some aweful nice looking little houses in both of the areas you’re describing.
IMHO East/West has more dramatic effects on the neighborhood than north/south. . .

Random can elaborate, but it seems he was just mentioning where there’s condo development, not which is a better part of the neighborhood. Of course, if you’re taking into direct consideration appraisal values, then condos are a good sign. So overall, yeah, I’d say “the latter”

If I had the money to drop on a property in the are between Kedzie/Western and Lawrence/Montrose and it wasn’t too close to a large apartment, I’d snap it up. . . That’s a nice little set of blocks, with the exception of the weird one-way streets. . .

[sub]I feel compelled to make the standard disclaimer that this is my impression only, albiet based on living in the area for 1.5 years. I haven’t gone house-shopping, ever, so my reasons and concerns may be different from yours![/sub]

heh

According to the site, my neighborhood is safer than Lincoln park -

180 total in L.P. vs 155 in A.P.;

Slightly more “personal crime” in A.P. (43 vs 37), but nigh-on-twice as many “property crimes” in L.P. (88 vs 132)

I’m tickled!

(Oh, and that block that I described looked the “cleanest”)

db4530, thanks for the link to the crime statistics. Wife and I are moving back to Chicago in two weeks. (We’re in Boston now, can’t wait to escape.) We’re looking at South Loop for a rental, but we’re probably going to look at buying in Albany Park/Ravenswood in the next couple years.

I’m not as familiar with the area north of Lawrence and west of the river, which is why I didn’t mention development there. I agree that there’s more change E-W than N-S, though.

I agree about the advantage of the ethnically diverse neighborhood. There are amazing Asian, Mexican and Slavic shops where I can get great groceries/bread/produce, all within blocks of my house.

As for Kedzie and Montrose, I wouldn’t say the neighborhood is that great yet. If you’re buying, you like to be in an area where there are more owners than renters, and there tend to be more apartment buildings (some kind of dilapidated) in that area. But walking two blocks can make a huge difference. Look at the upkeep of the nearby buildings, what vibe you get late on a summer night, and how well the houses (even the old ones) are constructed.