Chicago crime could dampen demand for downtown condos, real estate agents worry


Gwen Hughes, a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chicago agent, agrees. “Crime is on everyone’s minds, buyers and sellers,” Hughes said in an email. As a result, she writes, “the downtown recovery has been slower than I expected. We all hope that the crime situation will be resolved and the market will start to improve.”

Many downtown high-end condo buyers are suburban dwellers who move into town as empty nesters or shop for weekends on the town, and people from other parts of the Midwest who want to get away from it all. set up in the dynamic city they like to visit. “If they continue to see this news,” says Farra, “they will stay closer to home.”

Violence certainly doesn’t just threaten condo sales in expensive neighborhoods; it undermines everyday life all over Chicago.

The efforts of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Police Department to bring the violence under control have had little effect, to the point that frustrated city councilors called a special city council meeting in early July to push for better solutions to an issue. frightening wave of shootings around the city. And the Illinois Retail Merchants Association wants more police patrols in the loop to prevent violence from convincing downtown workers to stay home and work remotely.

It is too early to obtain data that would indicate whether the recent downtown unrest has resulted in a drop in condo sales in the area.

Gail Spreen, agent for Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty and longtime Streeterville resident, says she doesn’t expect the market recovery to slow down, for two reasons: all the great downtown amenities, such as restaurants and entertainment venues, prevail over violent incidents among shoppers. ‘perception of neighboring neighborhoods. And the violence has become, for the most part, white noise against the backdrop of Chicago.

“We’ve been hearing about crime for so long, every weekend for years,” says Spreen. “It’s just another weekend.”

Spreen says she showed two suburban couples downtown condos on July 6 and 7, and neither of them expressed concern about the violence. “It didn’t come,” she said.

Because of the long history of violence, says Spreen, “people are more careful when they go out. I am more careful when I go out. But they want the energy of city life.

The strongest sign yet that the appetite for downtown condos is back was the $ 11.25 million penthouse sale at Lake Shore Drive last week. The sale price was the highest anyone had paid for a downtown condo since the start of 2019. That is, long before the pandemic and episodes of social unrest disrupted the condo market in Canada. downtown.

Restaurants reopen, theaters are getting ready, and the lakeside trail and parks beckon. “With it all opening up, people see that downtown is where they want to be, where they have the opportunity to be with other people and connect,” said Kimberly Bares, CEO of the Magnificent Mile Association, which stimulates retail, entertainment and tourism options.

While not involved in residential real estate, Bares says what she expects to see in the market are “people who didn’t buy during the crisis trying to get in before prices do not go up “.

Farra says she’s hoping for the same, though she’s surprised she hasn’t seen more buyers pouring into the market when “inventory prices are so aggressive” thanks to a giant backlog that has built up over the years. the two crises of 2020. And she attributes this, at least in part, to an overarching feeling that the city center is not as safe as it used to be.

“We have to reverse the perception that there is no control,” says Farra.


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