Wicker Park and Bucktown may be in the final stages of gentrification – high-end retailers have a foothold along many high-traffic thoroughfares, and builders are focusing on bigger, pricier projects than they had 10 years ago – but @properties co-founder Thad Wong and others in the real-estate industry believe both neighborhoods still represent a hipper, edgier alternative to some of the city’s more established residential areas.
“People want to be reminded that they live in the city. You can get off the train at Damen and feel like you’re stepping into a very gritty environment,” he says.
Today, more than a decade after Wong started selling the Clock Tower, Pinnacle and Ironworks lofts to buyers willing to brave “a few extra-friendlies and some big ol’ rats at night,” the atmosphere is still very much the same. Quimby’s Books on North Avenue still sells a variety of independent comics, ’zines and niche literature. Guitars still wail out into the street from the Double Door, located at the corner of Damen and Milwaukee.
Walk two blocks east of that “gritty” train station today, however, and you’ll undoubtedly stumble upon the site of Ranquist Development’s five new single-family homes on Wolcott Avenue. Each is selling for approximately $2.5 million.