This article, written by Griffin Jackson and featuring Swake Group’s Amie Klujian, was originally published online in the Chicago Tribune’s Real Estate section on January 2nd, 2019.
Hop the Red Line to the Thorndale or Granville stops and don’t look back. You’re a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan to the east, Loyola University to the north and plenty of quality food and drink.
For both residents and passers-by in Edgewater, the neighborhood has broad appeal. Think tree-lined streets and a cool, easy vibe along Broadway near Granville Avenue in particular. An influx of new businesses has contributed to the “Broadway Renaissance” and the larger transformation of this eminently comfortable corner of the city.
Cost of living: An MLS analysis by SwakeGroup at Dream Town Realty found one-bedroom apartments in the neighborhood renting for just north of $1,250 in the last year. Two-bedrooms come in closer to $1,800. Single-bedroom condos average $130,000 with a market time of about 52 days; two-bedrooms average $243,000 and 60 days on the market. Single-family homes ballparked around $587,000.
“The Edgewater neighborhood strikes the perfect balance between vibrancy and serenity,” said Amie Klujian, a broker at SwakeGroup and an Edgewater resident. She says the charm, friendly vibe and authenticity make it a “convenient and comfortable place to visit and live.”
“Values per square foot in Edgewater are attractive,” Klujian said. “So the cost of entry is compelling and motivating compared to the same square footage in other areas.”
Market watch: Increasingly, multiunit greystones are being converted into single-family homes, and most homebuyers who rehab properties in the area try to keep the original architecture intact. Attempts to convert condos into rentals often fall flat because current owners love the area and are unwilling sell.
“The market in Edgewater is continually healthy and growing,” Klujian said. “It’s this steadiness in growth that appeals to — and favors — homeowners, residents and business owners.”
Klujian also emphasized that the neighborhood isn’t just a fad: “It’s an exciting and evolving community focused on long-term vibrancy and smart growth where all are welcome and housing options are available for all.”
A local you should know: In a city where hidden-gem neighborhoods have been known to get popular and then explode with an influx of cash and people, Scott Crestodina, owner of the specialty drinks depot Independent Spirits, Inc. (5947 N. Broadway), would like Edgewater to stay just the way it is.
“If it becomes any more popular, I am afraid that Edgewater may suffer the same fate as other beloved Chicago neighborhoods that have been ravaged by investment,” he said. He speaks fondly of the growing list of vanished local businesses — Standee’s Snack ’n Dine, True Nature Foods, the Peacock Cafe — and laments increasing development.
“Despite it all, Edgewater remains low-key and slower-paced than much of the city. Sidewalks are wide and sparsely traveled. Many great small businesses manage to hang on. All the restaurants are great, all the dogs are friendly and all the wine tastes better,” Crestodina said.
Culture vulture: Head a couple of blocks north to take in one of the city’s most unusual art venues or get in on the action yourself. The Chicago Mosaic School (1127 W. Granville Ave.) is an inviting, warm space to discover a modern homage to an ancient art.
“People are surprised to experience the work of different artists and see contemporary mosaic art for the first time,” said the school’s founder and executive director, Karen Ami. Even from the street, the view through the broad windows is eye-catching. An array of colorful, alluring mosaics against crisp white walls. Stop in for the eye candy or sign up for classes, where students range from ages 4 to 88.
“Students can get hooked and stay with the school community for years,” Ami said. “People that come to the school can be project-oriented, or desire to take their skills into other communities through public projects or mural work in schools.”
Editor’s note: A section about The Growling Rabbit restaurant has been removed after online publication of this article. The restaurant has announced its closing. The owner cited personal and business issues.
Location for libations: For the perfect drink, you need only to cross the street. Income Tax (5959 N. Broadway) was conceived as a wine bar but quickly evolved into a stellar neighborhood bistro. The hospitable, versatile space is centered around a big, comfy bar but also has marble tables and private booths.
“We definitely think of ourselves as a neighborhood restaurant,” said general manager Collin Moody. He said the chef, Ellison Park, has contemporized the menu, though it’s still very grounded — “like eating in Paris now, but a little more free-flowing, pulling in some more Mediterranean influences.”
“Food-friendly wine and wine-friendly food” seems to be the motto, and top-notch drinks are at the heart of the operation. “Wine is the core of what we do,” said Moody. “That’s always first and foremost.”
And then there’s the namesake cocktail, which takes on a new version annually. The 2018 iteration included gin, red and dry vermouths, orange cordial and bitters. Moody said it was based on a cocktail from the 1920s and ’30s, vaguely in the martini family. “We take some substantial liberties with the recipe to balance it for the modern palate,” Moody said.
Between the neighborhood-centric happy hours, tremendous drink list and a fun carafe option, Income Tax lives up to its 2018 Jean Banchet Best Bar award. When you stop in, be sure who ask what bottles they have open.
Making the grade:
Hayt Elementary School (1518 W. Granville Ave.), GreatSchools rating 6 out of 10.
Swift Elementary Specialty School (5900 N. Winthrop Ave.), GreatSchools rating 5 out of 10.
Rickover Naval Academy High School (5900 N. Glenwood Ave.), GreatSchools rating 7 out of 10.
Senn High School (5900 N. Glenwood Ave.), GreatSchools rating 4 out of 10.
Health hubs: Edgewater boasts the usual Chicago suspects: Orangetheory Fitness, LA Fitness and the Edgewater Athletic Club are all within about a five-minute walk of one another. Or head a few blocks south for a run on the Lakefront Trail or the Chicago Park District’s largest indoor recreational facility, the Broadway Armory (5917 N. Broadway).
Griffin Jackson is a freelance writer.