Major Development Projects Around Chicago - What Do They Mean for You?

We all know when summer is in full swing in Chicago. There’s sun, beach days at the lake, and the most noticeable sign of them all: construction. While much of the construction we see consists of little things like fixing potholes and digging up old water lines, one of the major sources of activity stems from both development and redevelopment projects.

But beyond adding driving time to your daily commute, what could major development projects mean for you? A few things.

First off, these major projects often become attractions that reach residents, visitors beyond the neighborhood, and tourists. Development projects can give existing and newly formed businesses an opportunity to set up shop in up-and-coming and established Chicago neighborhoods. They also can become catalysts for rising home and rental prices.

Major development efforts in Chicago are full of complexities that can leave you with a few lingering questions. Whether you want to stay up-to-date on changing property values or take note of new recreational green spaces, Real Group RE has you covered. 

Here are some big projects that are affecting Chicago right now:

The Bloomingdale Trail (The 606)

The Bloomingdale Trail, more commonly called the 606 trail (or 606 for short), has become a major attraction for both residents and visitors of Chicago’s Wicker Park, Bucktown, Logan Square, and Humboldt Park neighborhoods.

In 2016 alone, the pedestrian walking and biking trail had over 1.6 million visitors. It’s seen as a 2.7-mile long amenity to many nearby residents. The trail features public art pieces and lanes for biking and walking, and has prompted local businesses to set up shop near a few of the park’s entrances.

Once known as Bloomingdale Line, the present day Bloomingdale Trail has a rich industrial past. Back in the early 20th century, Chicago was a key city for manufacturing transportation, including the use of freight trains. The freight train-filled Bloomingdale Line fell out of use by the late 20th century and officially ended operations by 2001. It became an abandoned stretch of track that divided its surrounding neighborhoods.  

As of June 6th, 2015, the former freighter line became the elevated park stretch now known as the 606, named for the first three digits of the neighborhoods’ zip codes.

The 606 has been opened to the public for over three years, and fears of rising housing prices continue to be one concern for those looking to buy and rent in the neighborhoods that surround the winding park.

After the 606’s groundbreaking in 2015, prices in 606 East (east of Western Avenue) rose 13.8% while prices in 606 West (west of Western Avenue) increased 48.2%. Though the increases for 606 East are substantially lower, the rising property values are something for homeowners and future buyers and renters to be aware of when looking at the surrounding neighborhoods.

The 606 has received both acclaim and criticism because of its development. The elevated trail has brought a new source of usable green space for Chicago residents and visitors alike. It has also perpetuated rising property values, a trend to watch for with future local development projects.

North Branch

Spanning across 760-acres is the North Branch Industrial Corridor in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

The plan for North Branch’s development is the first part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Industrial Corridor Modernization Initiative, a large-scale revitalization plan for industrial areas across the city.

Outlined in the plan are three main objectives, including to maintain North Branch as an engine for economic growth, provide improved access for transportation, and enhance the area’s already built environment.

The City of Chicago’s 2017 plan to redevelop the area would aim to bring in 50,000 new residents to the neighborhood, and establish mixed-use zoning ordinances to promote business and residential growth.

However, the fate of North Branch has been up-in-the-air in recent months for a number of reasons.

One looming possibility is the fate of Amazon’s HQ2 location. Chicago is on the list of finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters; due to the lot’s size, this could be a potential location for the Amazon space if the city wins the bid.

Another issue that has been left unanswered is the issue of creating usable green space for recreational purposes. The mayor’s plan aims to set aside 60 acres of usable green space, though this would likely take the form of several patches of parks, bike paths, and baseball fields instead of one continuous stretch of open space.

The 78

One of Chicago’s most untouched acreages of land is “The 78”, more commonly known as “Rezko” to residents and urban planners alike. The name comes from the lot’s ties to Democratic party fundraiser Tony Rezko, who once owned the land.

In May of 2018, the 62-acre plot situated alongside the Chicago River saw a new light thanks to real estate development company Related Midwest. The working goal for redevelopment on The 78 is to become the 78th official neighborhood in Chicago.

The length of the lot spans from Roosevelt Road on the north end to 18th Street at its most southern point, situated between Clark Street to the east, and the Chicago River to the west.

Clark Street is intended to be a space for both residential and office use. The developer hopes to create a new Red Line stop at Clark and 15th Street to alleviate traffic concerns and provide additional access to the massive space.

Along the five-acre sized riverfront, the developer plans to create dining options, bike paths, and pedestrian space as part of its mixed-use zoning efforts.

The bulk of the project is to provide the unused lot with 13 million square feet of mixed-use office, residential, and hotel space. While the numbers are not yet available on how many residents could be brought it, the plan discusses a change to zoning parameters that would allow buildings up to 950 feet tall.

The potential for the years-abandoned lot is vast and, seems set to establish economic growth in the area.

While it is too early to say whether or not surrounding neighborhoods will see a hike in home prices and property values, a look back on other major development projects like the 606 show a likely possibility. In any case, for buyers and sellers, this project is definitely worth keeping an eye on!

The Rundown

Major development projects are complex, and often full of double-edged swords.

For instance, new development projects can bring an influx of new residents and businesses, which some feel leads to high congestion in terms of traffic. At the same time, proponents argue that this is the perfect way to innovate and redevelop existing transit lines, and take public transit one step further into the future.

New development can bring highly desired amenities to neighborhoods across Chicago and help to stimulate the city’s economy. Housing prices often rise when favorable resources are placed into a neighborhood, which can be great for homeowners looking to sell but daunting for those wanting to join the neighborhood.

That’s where Real Group RE comes in! Our team of experienced Chicago agents knows all of the ins and outs of our city’s unique and ever-changing housing market. With one eye on the past and another on the future, we have the skills and know-how you need to make buying or selling in Chicago as easy as possible.

Want to talk more about all things real estate? Curious about your neighborhood’s market conditions? Whatever your realty needs, we can help! Drop us a line today to keep the conversation going.

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