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West Loop Chicago Neighborhood

Dozens of Chicago neighborhoods are routinely referred to by realtors as “up-and-coming,” but there’s probably no neighborhood in the city that is more deserving of that distinction that Chicago’s West Loop. The neighborhood is bordered by The Kennedy and Eisenhower expressways to the east and south, and Ashland and Grand avenues to the west and north. For most of Chicago’s history, the West Loop served as the city’s warehouse and meatpacking district, serving as the crucial link between the meatpacking industry to the south and the city’s restaurant industry. Now, it seems that equation has been inverted, as the West Loop has quickly become one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city, and its dining scene is one of the richest of any neighborhood in the country.

Opera Winfrey’s very own Harpo Studios is located in the West Loop, and for a long time it was the only thing that really attracted outside visitors to the neighborhood. Now, however, the West Loop is home to one of the city’s most prosperous gallery districts and trendiest restaurants. And while Halsted Street is the main thoroughfare that runs through the neighborhood, many residents find that the West Loop’s cultural center is on Randolph Street, where the neighborhood’s art district and restaurant scene collide. There, you’ll encounter the grandeur of Alhambra Palace, the modern French excellence of One Sixtyblue, or you can get a dose of wasabi and saki at one of the neighborhood’s several sushi restaurants and lounges.

With the sort of change that’s been taking place in the West Loop over the past decade or two, it should come as no surprise that the condo market has changed pretty drastically as well over that same period. The changes that have taken place in the real estate market have been pretty consistent with the rest of the neighborhood, and the condo itself could be described as “industrial chic.” Many of the condos that are currently on the market are conversions of rehabbed old warehouses and manufacturing buildings. Instead of razing some of the more historical buildings in the neighborhood, developers have opted to work with what’s already there, adding touches like exterior balconies and penthouse suites.

The Warehouse Lofts on North May Street typify the sort of mid-rise condo and loft living that is common in the West Loop. The building features spacious timber lofts with exposed brick and massive floor-to-ceiling windows. Also, the building has a large rooftop deck that’s available to all residents, and it affords jaw-dropping views of the downtown Chicago skyline. However, not all of the properties in the West Loop are gut-rehabs; there are also several new buildings as well. Madison 901, for example, is an impressive new mid-rise condo building in the West Loop that will have 148 separate condos plus a fitness center and a couple of party rooms on the top floor. In addition, a brand-new city park is going to be built less than a block away in 2008 that will be a great place to go for a walk or take the dog in the summer.

Aside from the great condos and the vibrant nightlife and arts scene in the West Loop, one of the most attractive features of the neighborhood is the relatively low cost of living, especially when compared with neighborhoods closer to the lake. For a two- or three-bedroom condo in the West Loop, you can expect to pay anywhere between $300,000 and $600,000, while the median price for a one-bedroom costs about $267,000, on average. What those figures don’t tell you though, is that for the same price, you’ll often get much more space in the West Loop as well, as the popularity of lofts in the neighborhood tends to produce large, wide-open spaces.

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