VIDEO: Trendy and swinging: Wicker Park real estate on the rise

Resident fear for local artists and their ability to live in Wicker Park as rents rise. (Sean Froelich/Medill)

By Sean Froelich

Not long ago, Wicker Park on Chicago’s Northwest Side was a bohemian enclave for starving artists. Today, it’s more likely to be associated with the “g” word, gentrification.

After shaking off the effects of the 2008 housing crisis, the area’s real estate market is again on an upswing. Some residents expressed melancholy over the changes that have come with rising real estate values, while others see the changes as progress.

“There was a slight downturn in price points, but not super significant,” said broker Melissa Govaderica, comparing Wicker Park to the rest of the real estate market during the crash. “But now again it’s trending up leaps and bounds…it’s pretty hot.”

Govaderica said that single-family homes have sold for between $450,000 and $3.1 million in Wicker Park in the past 12 months.

John Lagino, owner of the diner chain Bongo Room first opened business in Wicker Park more than two decades ago.

“It was pretty scary over here 23 years ago,” Lagino said, who found it easy to move in when the neighborhood was underdeveloped. Lagino estimates that rents have tripled or quadrupled since he’s been in the neighborhood.

A rising real estate market attracts a richer clientele. As of now, the neighborhood continues to be an eclectic mix of college students, families and single professionals.

That are Chicago’s next real estate hot spots? According to Govedarica, neighborhoods like Logan Square and Pilsen are heating up.

Photo at top: Residents fear that rising rents in Wicker Park will cause local artists to flock elsewhere. (Sean Froelich/Medill)