Ukrainian Village, that eclectic and historic Near Northwest Side enclave, has been dubbed the hottest neighborhood in America.
Redfin’s new “Hottest Neighborhoods of 2016” report ranks Ukrainian Village—bounded by Division Street, Damen, Chicago and Western avenues—as No. 1 in the nation in its 32-city survey.
The ranking was based on Internet page views, computer searches and other factors measured by Redfin’s website and app during the second half of 2015. Growth metrics from the report are projected to show an increasing number of real estate transactions and appreciating prices in 2016, Redfin predicted.
What’s the attraction of Ukrainian Village? “The neighborhood is tranquil, but bordered on four sides by business and nightlife corridors,” noted Redfin real estate agent Niko Voutsinas.
Over the last few years, Chicago Avenue, the neighborhood’s main commercial street, has seen a boom in new retail shops and many restaurants.
One of the newest eateries experienced by this writer is J.J. Thai Street Food, which grand opened in November. Chef and owner Jiranya Thosatheppitak Podgorski serves spicy Asian delicacies at 1715 W. Chicago. (Try the Guay Tiew Kaeng Neua—rice noodle with curry and beef.)
Many streets in the neighborhood are within the Ukrainian Village Landmark District, so much of the vintage architectural character of the brick and stone homes, 2-flats, 3-flats and walk-up condominium buildings has been preserved.
From a real estate investment point of view, Ukrainian Village still has upside potential, experts say. The historic housing stock still is intact, unlike some sections of Bucktown and Wicker Park, where developers have torn down old buildings and erected hundreds of new-construction condos.
The neighborhood of Ukrainian Village got its name from the first wave of hard-working immigrants and craftsmen who came to the area 1880 and 1910. Proud, tight-knit Europeans from Poland, Russia and the Ukraine arrived, bringing their culture, customs and treasured traditions.
On Sunday mornings, residents still awaken to the tolling of church bells in the quiet residential sections of the neighborhood. Several churches in the area are designed in Czarist and Byzantine architecture. One of the most ornate is the gold-domed Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral, built in 1903 on Leavitt Street. Another landmark is the 103-year-old St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral on Oakley.
Turn-of-the-century craftsmanship can be seen on almost every side street in Ukrainian Village. Stroll down Cortez or Thomas streets and you’ll see quaint “worker’s cottages,” squat one-story red brick dwellings built in the late 1870s after the Great Chicago Fire. Iowa and Haddon streets showcase brick and graystone buildings crowned with gargoyles and Old World family crests.
Over the years, Ukrainian Village has become ethnically more diverse. In the 1980s, renovators and real estate investors discovered the neighborhood, driving up prices. However, in 1990 it still was possible to buy a 2-bedroom condo for $60,000, and a Victorian 2-flat or single-family home for about $175,000.
With the increasing influx of new retail and restaurants, prices of renovated homes have appreciated greatly in Ukrainian Village over the past two decades, experts say.
“A renovated 2-flat at 2334 W. Rice was recently converted to a 3-bedroom, 4-bath single-family home and sold for $685,000, and a renovated vintage 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath home at 2022 W. Haddon sold for nearly $1.2 million,” said veteran buyer broker Sara Benson, president of Benson Stanley Realty, who has purchased several properties for clients in Ukrainian Village.
Forty 2-bedroom, 2-bath condominiums sold for prices ranging from $215,000 to $579,000 in 2015, according to MRED, LLC, the multiple listing service.
“Ukrainian Village home prices are still affordable for buyers, especially if you compare them to similar vintage properties in Lincoln Park and Bucktown,” Benson said.
For more housing news, visit www.dondebat.biz. Don DeBat is co-author of “Escaping Condo Jail,” the ultimate survival guide for condominium living. Visit www.escapingcondojail.com.