Lincoln Square still the little neighborhood that could

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The Fountain View, Lincoln Square

Monique Sandberg lives in Chicago’s Lincoln Square. She serves as the president of the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce. And as an agent with Prudential Rubloff, Sandberg sells condominiums and single-family homes here, too.

It’s safe to say, then, that she’s a bit of an expert when it comes to the neighborhood. It’s why I went to her when I wanted to know why Lincoln Square seems to have survived the Chicago housing slump relatively unscathed. Sure, housing prices here haven’t exactly soared since the city’s housing doldrums began in late 2006. But they haven’t fallen as hard as they have in other areas of the city.

Sandberg had a quick answer for me: Lincoln Square has a small-town feel, even though it’s located in one of the biggest cities in the country. It’s also far enough away from the trendier neighborhoods of Lincoln Park, Southport and Lakeview; housing prices here didn’t shoot up as high during the housing boom as they did in those neighborhoods, Sandberg said, so they didn’t fall as much during the big housing slump.

Then there are all the amenities here. If you haven’t walked through Lincoln Square lately, you’re missing some great bakeries, restaurants and bars. You can get everything from homemade beer to delightfully fatty sausages to some of the most tempting cupcakes you can imagine. Independent booksellers, toy stores and art shops are part of the mix, too. The neighborhood is even home to the Old Town School of Folk Music and the magnificent, if a bit rumpled, Sulzer Library, one of only two regional libraries in the Chicago Public Library system.

“There’s a different feeling in Lincoln Square,” Sandberg said. “It leans toward a different clientele. It skews toward the more mature buyer, someone looking for a longer-term community. It’s a neighborhood that once you settle down in it, it almost feels like a small hometown.”

To prove her point, Sandberg mentioned that the neighborhood’s central square hosts concerts on Thursday nights throughout the summer weeks.

The neighborhood is also home to a nice mix of condominiums, both old and new, and single-family homes. One of the more notable of the area’s newer condo developments is The Fountain View. Construction crews finished buiding this 18-unit green building in late 2008. Today, only two units remain unsold. That’s pretty good considering the weak Chicago condominium market.

Sandberg said that she expects Lincoln Square’s residential real estate to only increase in value as the Chicago housing market slowly recovers from its slump. Currently, buyers shopping for two-bedroom, two-bath condos here can expect to pay from the low $200,000s to the low $400,000s, Sandberg said.

“If you think of Lakeview and Lincoln Park, there were a lot of two-flats or single-family homes that were torn down and replaced by three- or four-flat buildings with condos that had high price tags. That led to strong price escalations in those neighborhoods. That type of zoning wasn’t approved here,” Sandberg said. “There were smaller buildings here that were converted to condos. But the prices for these were reasonable. The prices may be 15 percent higher for the same kind of living space in neighborhoods that are slightly south and east of us.”

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  • Yeah, as a resident of Lincoln Square since 2002 (and a resident of Wrigleyville from 1999-2002), I can definitely attest to that we didn't have all the tear-downs that Wrigleyville had. I'm glad to hear that was the result of Lincoln Square's zoning.

    I also agree with how Lincoln Square is a place you settle down in. I was only planning in living there a for a couple years and now I've been there for eight. As I like that more and more shops are coming in, I'm also leery that rent is being raised because of this perception of Lincoln Square being all that. Well, i guess that's the price of having a neighborhood with more cutesy shops and such. I'll take the ride. :)

  • Hmmm, how would you account for this graph where it shows 60625 (of Lincoln Square) taking a huge price drop in the past couple years compared to 60657 (of Wrigleyville)?
    http://www.zillow.com/local-info/IL-60625-home-value/r_84627/

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