The Near West Loop is attracting a diverse population as it continues to grow in popularity. Its boundaries can generally can be defined by the I-90/94 expressway to the east, Ashland on the west, Lake Street to the north and Monroe Street to the south. It’s a vibrant area filled with trendy restaurants, particularly on ‘restaurant row’ (Randolph Street)..
The former home to The Oprah Winfrey Show at Harpo Studios, this area grew as did Oprah’s popularity. Businesses set up shop around the studio to service Harpo employees. When Oprah and Rosie O’Donnell, who was hired to fill her place, left town it hurt the development in the area, yet it still remained popular.
Right now the Near West Loop is in for another resurgence but for different reasons. It’s becoming a destination for those looking for easy transportation and close access to the Loop and the suburbs. Buses are on almost every corner, the train station’s close by and the newly opened El at Lake & Clinton is now available. Taxis are also pretty easy to chase down, along with some free street parking.
The Near West Loop has many converted lofts and town houses with spaces generally ranging from about 800 to 3,000 square ft. There are still some fix-er-uppers to be found for those looking to save money, along with a number of newly constructed buildings (like the one pictured above at 1000 West Washington Street) worth looking at.
According to Stephanie Brimo, a buyers broker for Redfin who specializes in the area, the median list price for housing in the Near West Loop is $340,000, with the median sold price at $312,000, which is a 98.1 percent ratio list to sell number; a bit complicated, but the bottom line is that homes are still affordable and selling close to the asking price at around $291/square foot.
Ms. Brimo says that the schools in this area (District 299) are also a draw for the ever expanding families who are looking for an academically sound school system close to where they live. Both Skinner West & Jackson A Elementary Language Academy are in the area, along with Crane Achievement Academy High School.
There are also a large number of parks, both private and public, in the Near West Loop that offers much-needed green space to residents and more than many other areas of the City. Retail has been quite active on Washington Street, where a number of stores have opened to cater to the local community. Mariano’s is on Halsted as is Whole Foods, which is taking over the old Dominick’s location and is scheduled to open in 2015.
The Near West Loop is truly an integrated community with families, singles, Baby Boomers, Gen-X & Y…of all ethnic groups that have discovered Chicago’s best kept little secret.