Saturday, April 21, 2007

Overlooking Chi Che Wang Park from the Regal Lofts Penthouse

A photo of Chi Che Wang Park - located at Hermitage and Wolfram - taken from the Penthouse at the Regal Lofts, 1735 W. Diversey. Just because I could. Of note today, the remaining ring around the park that was missing sod was just sodded. If you look closely you can see the workmen just scurrying out of the park to the right.

Quite a different scene than Chicago on April 11 - just 10 days ago! (Scroll Down)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dueling Economic Forecasts in Today's Chicago Tribune


Which to believe? Declining Home Values? Or Economic Fears Exclude Home Values?

I really just wanted to dog-pile on the Trib for perpetuating the hysteria about what is going on with the real estate market, but the rational half (fifth?) of my brain told me I should offer something of value along with the comment.

Admittedly, my perspective is focused on a narrow segment of the marketplace. Namely, Lincoln Park, Lakeview and up through Uptown. For us, your Guides, the first quarter of 2007 has been busy. Busier than any quarter of last year.

We listed $5,496,000 in inventory in January, February and March. Of this inventory, $2,229,000 is already under contract. $495,000 in previously listed inventory from 2006 is either sold and waiting to close or already closed. Buyers have purchased an additional $1,124,900 in inventory not listed by your guides.

To break this down: $3,478,000 in contracts written in Q1 2007. Plus: $5,496,000 in new inventory listed.

This will be a fine year for us, and for our sellers.

We are predicting that there will not be price depreciation in our market. The actual prices that buyers pay for real estate in the next month or two WILL be lower than the price paid last Fall, and here is how these two statements coincide.

All of our sellers have owned their property for at least two years. Most of our sellers have owned their property for at least three years, and many since 2000 or the late 1990's. There has been price appreciation each year - some years better than others.

However, with higher levels of inventory today, our sellers are making price reductions, and we are seeing price reductions on much of the inventory in our area. Therefore buyers can expect to benefit from aggressive pricing of property as it passes 30, 60 and 90 days on the market.

This by no means translates in to sellers losing money on their property. A property purchased in 1999 for $384,000, listed in January for $570,000 and today reduced to $555,000 still equates to a 44% increase in value.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Argh! Chicago Springtime!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

32nd Ward Runoff Election (Continued) - West Lakeview & Bucktown

Last week I spoke too early. Today I received EIGHT (8) pieces of campaign literature for the two battling candidates in Chicago's 32nd Ward.

My nod to the candidate that offered something of substance in his literature is to Scott Waguespack who sent two positive mail pieces and two negative pieces. Alderman Matlak, on the other hand, sent out all negative material.

Highlights from Scott's not-quite-yet garbage: "You don't believe in the tooth fairy. So why would you believe Ted Matlak's lies?"

And from Matlak's campaign bird-cage-liner: "Scott Waguespack wants you to believe he's a reformer. But he was FIRED for doing politics on taxpayer time and his administration is under investigation for possible illegal hiring."

Also "Ghost of corruption past. Scott Waguespack was FIRED for campaigning on taxpayer time."

Man, if I learned that even a dime of my tax money was spent on any of this trash, I'd vote either one of them out of office.

My First Cubs game this year. Losing 4 to 1.

Got invited to a Sky Box this afternoon. Too good of an opportunity to pass up. Cubs vs. Houston. Too bad we lost; the final score was 4 to 2.

Friday, April 6, 2007

32nd Ward Runoff Election Rhetoric Heats Up - West Lakeview & Bucktown

For anyone who doesn't know, the 32nd ward Alderman, Ted Matlak, did not receive over 50% of the votes during the last City elections. This means Alderman Matlak must run again against his closest runner-up - Scott Waguespack.

We've been receiving quite an impressive bunch of campaign mail and today's stack was most remarkable: four direct mailers from Alderman Matlak and two from Scott Waguespack for a total of SIX direct mail flyers just today.

What's most perplexing to me is that only one piece of the mail today listed any qualifications for the job. All other campaign pieces focused on smear tactics or fear mongering. I think this is just so wrong.

Alderman Matlak says:
• Scott Waguespack is an imposter.
• Scott Waguespack implies that he’s an attorney but he failed the Bar exam and is not legally allowed to practice law.
• Scott Waguespack is a patronage hack from Berwyn.
• Scott Waguespack is not a property owner in the 32nd ward.
• Scott Waguespack is a deadbeat for not paying his taxes.
• Scott Waguespack is not to be trusted.

Scott Waguespack says:
• There’s runaway development in the ward.
• Ted Matlak is responsible for it.
• Ted Matlak took $350,000 in campaign cash from developers.
• Ted Matlak ignores the runaway threats that development poses.
• Ted Matlak awarded a company millions of dollars in tax giveaways that cost homeowners of the 32nd ward.
• Ted Matlak took $7,000 in campaign contributions from a company tied to the “Hired Truck” scandal.

Geez, guys, how about a little bit of info on what you will DO for the residents of the 32nd ward. I don’t think I have ONE SINGLE piece of info on a plan that these candidates have for improving the quality of life in my neighborhood.

The problem with this situation is that I am leaning towards going with “The Devil I Know” instead of the unknown. I know that I can call Alderman Matlak’s office and get a dead tree replaced. I know that I can call the office and get a stop-sign installed on a busy corner.

A particular weakness in Scott Waguespack’s campaign rhetoric is that I am involved in Real Estate. I make money off Real Estate Developers. I was raised in a Real Estate Appraiser’s home and I think that property should be put to its “Highest and Best Use.” Look, we live in Lakeview or Bucktown. The next 12 unit building is not going to affect traffic one bit as we’re already saddled with gridlock. The run-up in property values and the shot in the arm of the economy have everything to do with new development.

At least with Alderman Matlak I can point to:
• Pretty good schools in my neighborhood.
• New playground equipment on West Nelson.
• New 2-acre park on North Hermitage.
• New baseball field renovations at Hamlin Park.
• New stop sign in front of my new townhouse development.
• New trees to replace ones that died in my neighborhood.

This is not an endorsement – by me – and especially by anyone at YoChicago. And just to be fair, here are the websites for the candidates.

Neither one of these websites contains anything of substance.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Check out all my West Lakeview photos on Flickr

I took Joe's advice and started posting on Flickr. I've collected a somewhat bizzarre collection of photos from around the West Lakeview neighborhood. Since I live so close to Ashland, many pics feature the grimier side of Chicago living. One of my newest viewers posted a comment about the photo of the Drive Through at McDonalds on Ashland and encouraged me to join the group of admirers of the studied architecture of McDonalds around the globe.

My Flickr collection on West Lakeview

My new favorite new construction house - West Wellington

This is what a contemporary house should look like. I love the harmony of materials, the scale and the way the home relates to the street. 1532 West Wellington.

Classic Chicago Scene on Ashland - at the back of the Liquor Store

This pack of pigeons has lived behind the liquor store on Ashland longer than I have. Why - oh why - do people feed them!? One day this week I walked by and saw pounds upon pounds of bread crumbs. A literal mound several feet in diameter. Is it just me that finds this flock a dirty menace?