ChicagoNorth Side

Does Bucktown merit a $75K premium over the West Loop?

by Joe Zekas on 3/14/13

If you’re in the market for a new 3-bedroom condo with 1,900 square feet, you have two very similar floor plans to choose from, one in Bucktown and one in the West Loop.

The top floor plan above is at CA3, Belgravia Group‘s new 40-unit West Loop development at Aberdeen and Adams. The second floor plan is from Sedgwick Properties at 1611 N Hermitage in Bucktown. Unit 4S at CA3 is priced at $574,900, plus $25,000 for a deeded parking space. Unit 302 at 1611 is listed for $650,000, parking included. The CA3 unit has 3 full baths, while the one at 1611 has two. You can tour a unit at CA23 that’s similar to the CA3 unit in the above video with Belgravia’s Buzz Ruttenberg.

According to Koenig & Strey’s Jennifer Mills, the sales agent for the project, 1611 will have a higher-grade appliance package and a more sophisticated level of finishes than CA3. Leaving that out of the calculation and arbitrarily assigning equal value to the third bath at CA3 and the parking at 1611, the Bucktown unit is seeking a $75K price premium over the West Loop one.

Buyers will weigh a lot of factors in deciding on location. Both of these locations have excellent access to the expressway grid, but Bucktown has the advantage if you’re heading to the north or northwest suburbs or O’Hare while the West Loop has superior access to the west suburbs, Chicago’s south side and Midway Airport.

CA3′s West Loop location has more convenient access to CTA train and bus routes to the Loop. It also has a strong edge on neighborhood parks, with Skinner Park two blocks to the west and Mary Bartelme Park two blocks to the east.

The Bucktown location has good proximity to Clybourn Corridor shopping, but traffic along North Avenue can make a weekend trip to Whole Foods an agonizing exercise. CA3 is a block from the new West Loop Target, a half mile from Mariano’s and Dominick’s on Halsted and within easy striking distance of the Roosevelt Road shops.

WalkScore assigns a Walker’s Paradise score of 92 to CA3 and a Very Walkable 83 to 1611 N Hermitage. CA3 has walking access to a greater number and variety of restaurants and nightlife, but the Bucktown location will have enough to satisfy most tastes – and different tastes.

Schools are too complex a decision to wade into, given the number of variables that parents will take into consideration.

Given the fact that both of these developments are pre-construction, the reputation and track record of the builder have to be given great weight. Both builders have strong track records. For the record, Belgravia’s a sponsor of our site, and Koenig & Strey (the marketing agent for 1611) is a long-time client.

Neither project has broken ground yet. Twenty-five of the 40 units at CA3 are under contract. Jennifer Mills reports a high level of excitement for the just-announced 1611 development, given the scarcity of new condo construction in Bucktown.

At the end of the day the decision for many buyers will come down to which neighborhood is the better fit, based on its perceived vibe and how well that meshes with their self image. There are buyers who will say “you can’t pay me enough to live in Bucktown,” others who would rather live in a hospital bed than in the West Loop, and a much smaller cohort who are open to considering both locations.

If you’re among the undecided, and don’t have an in-depth familiarity with both neighborhoods, spend some time gaining it. If you already have that knowledge, is the $75K price differential a deciding factor?

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