Washington Park, one of YoChicago’s hottest neighborhoods of 2006

New construction, Washington Park, Chicago

We’re taking a brief look at the state of each of the eight neighborhoods we spotlighted as Chicago’s hottest back in June of 2006. Yesterday we took a fresh look at Woodlawn. Today we cast a cold eye on Washington Park.

In 2006 our reporter wrote:

At first glance, an observer might see only a desolate landscape of boarded-up stores, vacant lots and blatant drug dealing, but, like nearby Woodlawn, Washington Park is perhaps a diamond in the rough.

When I’ve taken a closer look at Washington Park I’ve seen “only a desolate landscape of boarded-up stores, vacant lots and blatant drug dealing” and what I’ve seen sparkling in the rough is broken wine bottles and windshield glass. The park itself is a separate story. It’s one of Chicago’s great treasures, well-maintained, enjoyed by many and largely free of the gang activity that plagued it years ago.

According to recent Census data, Washington Park’s residential vacancy rate was 14.48% and its business vacancy rate was 26.36%. Washington Park lost 13.25 % of its residential population between 2000 and 2009, and its white population dropped to a nearly-invisible 19. In 1930 the area’s population was over 44,000; today it’s just over 12,000.

Back in 2006 we mentioned the Courtyard on the Park conversion, 5936 S King Dr, which was selling units from the $120s to the $230s. Unit 4, a 3-bedroom, 1-bath sold for $235,000 in August of 2004 and resold in December 2008 for $63,000. Unit 3, a 3-bedroom, 2-bath sold for $95,000 in 2009.

According to Redfin, the median list price of homes and condos in April was $72K and the median sold price was $26K.

The take-away: buying into a “hot” neighborhood has landed many in hot water.

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