Monday, April 16, 2007

Chicago Real Estate and the Olympics...a match made in heaven?

Since Chicago was a finalist for getting the U.S. Olympic bid I've talked to many buyers who suddenly have a renewed interest in the South Loop and other neighborhoods on the south side of the city. Or my favorite..."I was talking to my friend and they said I should look in the South Loop because Chicago might get the Olympics." Hey guys....we just got the bid and still have 2 years to see if we actually have the good or bad fortune, depending on which side of the fence you're on, of hosting the Olympics. But if and when Chicago does get the Olympics, not only will it make a profound impact on the city as a whole and the south side in particular, but it's bound to also have an impact on real estate. This impact will certainly be felt potentially as individuals buy property in the area, but the largest impact could be created by the Olympic Village that will be built to house the athletes. The proposed plan for the Village would create somewhere in the ballpark of 5000 units that post-Olympics fervor would most likely be converted into market rate and affordable housing. It would be quite the project and some developers are quite excited about its possibilities. The creation a new "neighborhood" is too much for some developers to pass up, while others are a little sceptical. While no one developer would be taking on the project alone, I think its still somewhat daunting for most....the prospect of selling 5000 units that are part of a single, though multi-faceted project. For a little added perspective, that's nearly 25% of all the condos that were sold citywide in 2006. The whole idea and what it would take for all of this to come together is not for the faint of heart that's for sure.

One can only begin to image how it would change the real estate landscape in the near South Side and for the very near future there will be many more questions then answers. When Barcelona hosted the Olympics in 1992 they did many of the same things that Chicago is planning and turned into a once "blighted" area (not my words as I've never been to Barcelona, but that of another author) into a thriving and vibrant community. If that was to happen purchasing in the "Village" could be a great all around option for homeowners and investors alike. Anything is better then the truck parking lot that currently exists on the site. On the downside, if all that is hoped for doesn't happen, will resale values tank? Will these condos sit on the market like white elephants?

I think Chicago has an amazing future, real estate and otherwise. I'd love to see the Olympics come to Chicago in 2016 and see the "Village" thrive. I don't have a magic wand or crystal ball (though sometimes I wish I did), but I'm just betting there are a lot of people out there who would like to own their own piece of great Chicago history, and a condo in the "Village" might be that piece....time will only tell.

For full details on all the Olympic happenings check out Chicago 2016.

Photo courtesy of Chicago 2016