Chicago was recently named the most undervalued global financial centre in the world by UBS. With property prices still 17% below their 2007 peak and thriving technology, government and education sectors, Chicago is a city that’s in major demand.
We sat down with proud Chicagoan and Managing Broker at KIG Commercial Real Estate Susan Tjarksen, to hear an insider's take about why the Windy City – and Hyde Park in particular – is an ideal investment spot.
Why is the Chicago property market so buoyant right now?
There is a very limited supply of new developments – we’re currently at a 30-year historical low for the development and delivery of new condominium blocks.
Why invest in Hyde Park over other neighbourhoods in Chicago?
The average price point is very attractive and much lower than elsewhere in Chicago. There is also a strong renter base in Hyde Park thanks to the University of Chicago (UChicago) and its hospital. I’m not talking just about undergraduate students, but professors, visiting professors from around the world, doctors, nurse practitioners and postgraduate students. Investing in Hyde Park now is a great opportunity. There has been very little new construction in the area in the last 30 years so anything that comes on the market is going to be very in demand.
How has Hyde Park changed in recent times?
I lived in Hyde Park for ten years and I have seen it change a lot. In the last five years there has been a boom in construction and in tenants. UChicago in particular has broadened its student base by offering a greater variety of courses and degrees. It used to be just rocket scientists, physicists and economics students – for which it was known internationally – and now it’s developing a well-rounded student body attracting students in liberal arts, humanities and performing arts. To meet the needs of all kinds of students, UChicago has allowed a more standard mix of retail and brands on campus including Chipotle, Core Power Yoga, T.J. Maxx and Target, which had previously been barred from entering the Hyde Park market.
How about Hyde Park’s real estate?
There are a number of new apartment towers either in planning or recently delivered, and they are commanding very strong rents. Recent additions to the neighbourhood’s retail and leisure scene include a Whole Foods supermarket, two movie theatres and a Hyatt hotel – which is a big milestone as there has not been a branded hotel chain here before. Supply is even more limited in Hyde Park than in Chicago overall.
Who wants to live in Hyde Park?
Hyde Park attracts a very educated, very urban demographic and there are plenty of people keen to live there, particularly renters. There are good employment opportunities too. UChicago is currently expanding its hospital, to include a new trauma centre, which has attracted worldwide attention as well as doctors, nurses and research money. The UChicago Laboratory Middle and High School is consistently ranked in the top 10 high schools in the country and families want to move to Hyde Park so their children can attend these renowned institutions.
There are also a lot of original parks in Hyde Park. Famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed Central Park in New York, created the Midway Plaisance and the Japanese Gardens ain Jackson Park. It’s a very family-oriented neighbourhood that will continue to attract an increasing population.
What are the long-term prospects for Hyde Park?
The USD500 million Obama Presidential Library will be built right next to the world renowned Museum of Science and Industry and Tiger Woods is redeveloping the golf course at the South Shore Cultural Centre Country Club, which will attract high profile premier tournaments and events.
Close to Hyde Park there is also the 31st Street Marina. This is all brand new construction and something the South Side desperately needed. These developments will boost the overall economy, tourism and appeal of Hyde Park. Because it’s only a 15-minute drive to Downtown Chicago, Hyde Park is going to continue to thrive and also grow towards the city centre over time.