Is Chicago Still Gentrifying?

Forbes takes a stab at it

Has the bad economy and the housing crisis in general killed gentrification?

Chicago-based reporter Stephane Fitch of Forbes magazine convened a panel of real estate experts to ask that very question in a piece posted this week called "The End of Gentrification?"

"I'll bet . . .  that in Bucktown and West Loop, which are two Chicago neighborhoods that hadn't completely gentrified yet, there are folks who bought two years ago who are now kicking themselves for having played the pioneer," Fitch says. "Doesn't that sour the whole movement?"

The short answer: No.

"Condos are value-priced and buyers are still looking there," one of his experts says.

But gentrification has certainly slowed down.

For many folks pushed out of their neighorhoods by higher rents and property taxes, that's a blessing.

To the Forbes group, gentrification is simply a real estate "play."

"I live in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood," Fitch notes. "Still, lots of gentrification needed in Uptown, I think it's fair to say. It's the classic gentrification play. But none of my neighbors thinks the gentrification will continue where I live. Not with the nicer neighborhood just to my south, called Lakeview, looking more nearly affordable for modestly well-off professionals."

(Other gentrification plays right now seem to include West Harlem, New York and Oakland, California.)

"Would any of you recommend to a well-off Forbes reader that they play urban pioneer now?" Fitch asked his panel. "Should they shop for foreclosed homes in un-gentrified neighborhoods?"

"It's a great time to buy at the right price," one of his experts says.

In other words, the slow down now may be setting the table for a gentrification explosion later.

For better and worse.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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