Loft Living in Downtown Chicago
Lofts have become a hot commodity in Chicago’s real estate market, as buyers look for something different and unique when compared to the usual assortment of high-rise and three-flat units. Lofts offer a more spacious, airy feeling—thanks to the high ceilings—and tend to be popular in surrounding downtown Chicago real estate market —where yesterday’s industrial plants are turning into today’s condominium buildings.One hot area is located just to the west of the Loop—it’s the Jackson Loft Corridor. As the name implies, most of these buildings are located along West Jackson Blvd. There about ten buildings in the area that prospective buyers might want to check out. One of those is Haberdasher Square, located at 728 W. Jackson. Haberdasher Square is located in a building that was originally constructed in 1920 and turned into residential use in 1995. There are 226 units in the building, which is located just east of the Kennedy Expressway. This is a pet friendly Chicago loft building, and the building offers a wide array of high end amenities to residents. The Jackson Corridor is located in the Near West Loop, so it’s walking distance to downtown offices and shopping, and near both major Metra stations, as well as near several expressways.
Head a bit further west, and you will find yourself in the West Loop proper. This former industrial area has been transforming into a haven for moneyed young professionals over the past two decades. The once-gritty neighborhood that was populated by factories has become the place to be for the see and be seen crowd who want to live near downtown while enjoying all that the West Loop has to offer. The transformation began in the 1990s, thanks to the construction of the United Center arena, the success of the Chicago Bulls (who play at the United Center), the location of Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios, and the presence of the 1994 Democratic Convention, which took place at the United Center.
With so many former factories being turned into residences, there is no shortage of lofts in the West Loop to choose from, whether you are looking for a true converted loft or a unit that is brand-new construction. One of the first loft buildings in this area was 1000 West Washington, which was converted in the mid-1990s. There are 180 homes in the building, with 160 different floor plans. There are actually two buildings—the Randolph and the Washington—that were both once Nabisco bakeries. The Randolph Building was built in 1884 and the Washington Building in 1902.
Another hot area that could be attractive to buyers is the South Loop neighborhood. Located just south of Congress Parkway, this area is rapidly gentrifying and there is a great selection to choose from. The location may make it attractive to prospective buyers, not only is it close to the Loop proper, but the area is also close to Solider Field, the Museum Campus, Grant Park, Michigan Avenue, the lakefront and other landmarks. The area is also well-served by public transportation; those seeking a deal, particularly first-time buyers, may find exactly what they are looking for in the South Loop. First-time buyers who buy and hold may be able to make a handsome profit, depending on future market conditions.
Of course, being near the Loop is one thing, but it’s another to actually live in the Loop. Once a purely 9-5 part of town, the heart of the city now offers a residential neighborhood than it ever has. Both lofts and traditional condos are selling at from $179,900 to $1 million. Again, location is the key here. Downtowners will enjoy being able to walk to work, or drive to anyone of the expressways in 2 minutes and the proximity to the lakefront and cultural activities is a plus. An example of a factory-to-loft conversion is Metropolitan Place, the old Florsheim Shoe Factory at 130 S. Canal, just west of the river. Another perk of this location—besides being in the Loop—is the presence of both Union Station and the Ogilvie Transportation Center. Reverse commuters will find it easy to get to work, given the proximity of these two Metra stations.
The neighborhood that started it all when it comes to loft conversions is Printer’s Row. This narrow slice of downtown borders the South Loop, but it has its own identity. It’s only a few blocks wide (east to west) and about two blocks long (north to south), but it has a laid-back, low-key sort of charm. It also offers the same location perks as the South Loop. Printer’s Row is where loft conversions began in the 1970s, and it remains an attractive choice for buyers. Public transit is close by, as is the South Loop’s vibrant nightlife. Buyers looking for a bit of an urban oasis might find Printer’s Row to be a better choice than the more crowded South Loop. The small geographic area may mean there are less lofts for sale in Printers row available, but those that are for sale could be prime selections.
There’s a reason these five neighborhoods host so many lofts—these are all former industrial parts of the city. If high ceilings and airy spaces appeal to you, these are the neighborhoods to check out.
Ted Guarnero, REALTOR® is a full-time real estate agent with over 1000 homes sold and $400 million in sales. Working with Compass real estate offering professional and effective real estate services to help you succeed in the local real estate market. Visit www.seeChicagorealestate.com for information on downtown Chicago real estate and to get in touch with an expert in the Chicago real estate market. Before you hire your next Realtor call Ted Guarnero 855-See-Chicago, it's on the House !