ChicagoNorthwest Side

Luxury condos mix with affordable housing in “West Wicker Park”

by Joe Zekas on 3/15/13

It was November of 2008 when YoChicago first looked at the new condominiums at 1555 N Talman in Humboldt Park, and expressed skepticism about the development’s claimed location in “West Wicker Park.” The building was incomplete at the time, and a 2-bedroom unit was listed in the $490s and a 3-bedroom in the $640s.

Fast forward to last August when we took the above shot of Phase III of an affordable housing development under construction a block west at North and Washtenaw. Hispanic Housing Development Corporation, a major player in the area, is the developer of the project, one of a number of affordable housing developments in the immediate area.

The next stop on our timeline is several months ago, when we wondered what weight home buyers should give to a recent murder and another shooting in the 1500 block of North Talman.

Yesterday’s email brought news that Mosaic Development had acquired 1555 N Talman and was completing construction on the building and marketing the remaining units as Wicker West 1555. Prices range from $329,000 to $399,000 for 2- and 3-bedroom residences. Five of the eight units have been presold, according to sales agent Sara Benson.

From the news release:

“Wicker West 1555 is strategically located between established Wicker Park and the airy, green recreational space of 219-acre Humboldt Park, Benson said. “We envision that a new West Wicker Park enclave surrounding the development will emerge with an upscale identity,” she said.

Back in August of 2010 AOL Travel offered a different vision of West Wicker Park:

If you’re new to Chicago, beware of apartment ads for places in “West Wicker Park.” Locals know that West Wicker Park is code for Humboldt Park. Located on the West Side, Humboldt is a huge neighborhood with many areas that are green, tree-lined, and quiet. But Humboldt also has its seedier areas, and the distinction between safe places and areas to avoid in Chicago can quickly shift and blur depending on the block. So to stay safe, simply avoid it altogether. As a general rule, when south of Lincoln Park, be wary of anything west of Western Avenue. And remember not to fall for the West Wicker Park bit.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

the urban politician March 16, 2013 at 12:27 PM

There is some legitimate, but slow, change going on in “west Wicker Park”. I think this area will remain seedy less long than other seedy areas bordering fully gentrified ones. It’s not changing as quickly as Logan Square, but some things are happening.

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west of western March 18, 2013 at 10:38 AM

2010 articles from AOL. “Locals” actually don’t refer to this area as “West Wicker Park” at all. This area is known as “East Humboldt Park” and is an active neighborhood.

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=East+Humboldt+Park

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EHPNA March 18, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Joe,

We hope we are wrong here but there seems to be an almost irresponsible but concerted effort on this blog to sustain archaic stereotypes about this neighborhood and the age old perceptions related to it. We, along with other neighbors, commented on your last post about this neighborhood in which you seemingly sought out every boarded up building in the vicinity to illustrate your point. Most (save 1) were under construction at the time and since then, a couple of them have now installed the energy efficient windows they were in the process of installing when you caught them mid-act.

In that same article, you called to light the unfortunate incident at that corner (which was the 2nd of two murders in East Humboldt Park since 2010) wondering how home buyers would react insinuating that this was the norm here. We pointed you to the statistics that confirm that while this area was a different place 5 – 10 years ago, the levels now are even below what we have recently seen in tony neighborhoods like Old Town and many others way East of here. Was there an expose article wondering if potential buyers were concerned about buying in those neighborhoods?

This most recent article raised our eyebrows on several fronts. Aside from the resurrecting an old (but reaffirming to the theme) AOL Travel (?) article about the area (and of course ignoring all the publications like the local Chicago Magazine and Sun TImes -Splash that have spoken more recently about the positive trends in this specific neighborhood and why so many are buying here), the timing of the email you reference must be delayed because Mosaic has been marketing this building as such for over 6 months. They started the ‘West Wicker’ moniker late last Summer after their acquisition. We will tell you that while we understand the branding of the building itself as ‘West Wicker’, we are not huge fans of that moniker for the location as we have identified as East Humboldt Park for almost 10 years. East Humboldt Park is OFFICIALLY part of the West Town Community Area but also considered a part of the Humboldt Park Neighborhood and not Wicker Park.

‘the urban politician’ is right on above and we really do hope to see more balanced coverage about some of the great things going on here. Take a run in Humboldt Park this weekend and see how gorgeous it is, not to mention the families, picnics and playing dogs that are now the norm. Look at the listings of the Single Family Homes for sale and how fast (relatively) they have gone on Rockwell including the several being built as we speak. Again, the warts and growing pains are there but it is not nearly the picture these articles paint.

We hope this is not taken the wrong way but we needed to point this out. Keep up the work and we will continue to read and support the blog. It is usually a great read.

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EHPNA March 18, 2013 at 11:15 AM

***REPOST of our comment regarding the previous article. We believe it is topical since that article is referenced here ***
–> Thank you for your article. While we understand the overall point and tenor of the message, I think the pictures and some facets of the story are grossly misrepresented.

For starters, you literally picked all or almost all the boarded up buildings in East Humboldt Park (Division to North, California to Western; or Beat 1423). You even showed a picture of the boarded up LUCHA building on Rockwell and LeMoyne that is, and has been under heavy construction. A well-funded endeavor that will modernize that building along with its twin on Evergreen and Rockwell. If you were there on a weekday, you will see that this is an active construction site.

While the pictures are glaring, they are quite a bit out of context and literally show the one corridor/corner that we have had the most issues with in a year. LeMoyne and Talman, which is primarily depicted in your photographs has been problematic for us and with the help of CPD, we are working to curb some of the loitering, nuisance, and vacant building issues we have seen here. The unfortunate shooting last week you reference took place in the same area and believe it or not, is the second homicide in EHP in 3-4 years (since 2010). You can verify this as it is public data (GIS, CLEARMap, and even the Tribune Redeye’s own disturbingly named, ‘Homicide Tracker’). The tony Old Town neighborhood has had more in the past 12 months alone just to lend some perspective. Two in 4 years is two too many but yet not as much as the perception would lead you to believe.

I would hope that in accordance with the message of your article, you’d also include other pictures of the neighborhood like the gorgeous Greystones on Maplewood, the new construction on Campbell and also Artesian, the green restorations on Evergreen, the cottages on Crystal Streets and the 4 new construction SFHs that sold immediately on Rockwell to balance out the picture. Or even the outdoor art gallery on Hirsch and Maplewood. You managed to find that one graffiti that we have been working to get removed. :)

Alex above is right, when many of us homeowners moved here 8 – 10 years ago, we did so because of the proximity to Wicker Park, the gorgeous Humboldt Park and its lagoon, and the ‘neighborhood feel’. Does it have its warts, absolutely. But is it the same place that used to be called the ‘Zone’ 20 years ago? Absolutely not and the data bares that out. East Humboldt Park is great as it is ethnically and socio-economically diverse, with neighbors who moved in yesterday, those who have lived here since the 60s, and those whose family have spanned generations in the neighborhood.

And don’t think that we are comprised of residents that are itching to get out, like my wife and I, many sold previous units and moved to more space in the same neighborhood because of the value and of course our lovely active neighbors.

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Joe Zekas March 18, 2013 at 12:25 PM

EHPNA

The email in question was triggered by new listings for the project being entered in the MLS.

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pedro March 18, 2013 at 1:31 PM

I like that area.

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the urban politician March 18, 2013 at 3:40 PM

You know, there is really nothing wrong with less affluent areas in principle.

Unfortunately, in America we are seeing VERY violent crime in poorer areas, and it is getting a lot of attention. Now I’m not saying that this is the case with “west Wicker Park”, mind you. I am simply saying that real estate, like many things, is about perception. And when people perceive danger, or even a hint of it, they scurry far, far away, as do their wallets.

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