Monday, May 9, 2011

Notes From BPN's General Meeting

These are some notes from the Buena Park Neighbors' general meeting last Monday that are of interest to the larger Uptown community, taken from its latest email newsletter:

Speaker: Alderman-Elect James Cappleman
  • Update on the Claredon/Montrose TIF: The developers have made a proposal on the Maryville site. James' plan is to review and propose to the community and look for feedback
  • One of the very first things Ald. Cappleman is going to do is review the vacancy rates of condos, apartments, and storefronts. Then to review with the 3 city chambers to begin the process of filling residences and recruiting business
  • Both he and Mayor-Elect Rahm agreed on the two major issues for our district: (1) Safety and (2) Economic Growth. Both go hand-in-hand because retail development is crucial to grow finances for the entire city
  • Another key issue discussed with Mayor Rahm was the Red Line stops. The stops are critical and the focus needs to be there for economic stability in the ward. Technically the Sheridan stop is in the 44th ward, but the Wilson stop is in our 46th ward. In early June, there will be an exciting announcement regarding the Wilson Red Line stop.
  • He will be working with the Chicago Police Commander on the condition of the Hotel Chateau and will aggressively demand higher standards for the hotel. Look at what Alderman Tunney was able to do with the Diplomat Hotel, which is owned by the same person.
  • Focus on crime: He will assess high 911 call areas and work with CAPS to focus on specific beats. For example, the Chicago police commander points to the 23rd area, and claims that a high % of crime is committed by a very small group of people. Plan is to follow CAPS 5 point plan
  1. Identify crime areas
  2. Time crime is happening
  3. Who are the victims
  4. Who are the perpetrators
  5. Create a plan of action and implement the plan, and evaluate the plan
He suggested reading the book Fixing Broken Windows, which focuses on fixing small crimes in specific areas and the bigger crimes decrease in those areas.

Speaker: Commisioner Bridget Gainer
  • Commissioner Gainer let us know that the pension fund for Cook County was solvent.
  • She talked about merging city and county agencies where possible in order to cut costs.
  • She is proposing that we should start making more use of ankle bracelets as opposed to incarceration for people convicted of non-violent crimes. This would save the county thousands each year
  • Property taxes are a big issue and people are frustrated with there property values going down but taxes going up. She invited anyone to e-mail her office and she would try to help. Her e-mail is


  1. Regarding the Claredon/Montrose TIF... how about just cancelling it.. has that been discussed?

  2. Anybody want to swagger a guess on the June Wilson El announcement? My prediction: Potbelly's or Corner Bakery has signed an agreement to occupy some space.

  3. Also, I find irony that UU linked to a borders site.

  4. My guess on the Wilson announcement, an underfunded renovation. As for the TIF, I'm not against it if it's done with community input taken into consideration and any housing is truely market rate. The other option is for the eyesore to remain indefinitely because lakefront or not, that land isn't going to be developed anytime in the next decade.

  5. The Fixing Broken Windows thing works. It has worked in the past until there were funding cuts. It will be interesting to see what happens.

  6. Alek, as a home owner that has lost $$$ in a building where most of the owners are also underwater in their mortgages, throwing 100-200 more condo's into the market to further drive down the prices in Uptown would not be how I would like my property tax spent. I am guessing that many other home owners, and Cappleman supporters, in the area feel the same....

  7. @SIR - I really don't think you have anything to worry about and don't see how there's a snowball's chance in hell new construction condos are built in Uptown anytime soon. I suspect this is a development which will unfold in stages over 5-10 years, with the retail component coming first.

  8. Here's how the the TIF should play out...

    How much is the site worth as raw land? Let's call that "A".

    How much will it cost to make the site raw land? Let's call that "B".

    Tell the good sisters or archdiocese or whatever tax exempt organization owns it that they have the choice of taking A-B or start paying property tax since it's not being used for charitable or educational purposes.

  9. Just as a general note, and not to be Debbie downer, there are many things to worry about regarding our real estate investments.

    1) Interest rates have nowhere to go but up. Rates going up cause prices to go down.

    2) More of the "shadow" inventory of foreclosures is supposed to come out later this year.

    3) Local politicians can not help with the above two points and they cannot be blamed for the problem. (except for the fact that they should have known that the City could not have depended on the real estate transaction taxes to help balance the city budget.) Federal level politicians CAN be blamed for this, but I am not going to get into politics.

    4) Anybody that bought in 2006 has to accept that the value of their property has dropped by at least 1/3 of the 2006 price. (If you need to sell now.) Look at 2001 comps to determine the value of your property.

    5) If this is the bottom of the market, and real estate appreciates at the pre-bubble rate of a maximum of 3% it will not beat the real inflation rate. A simple Excel spreadsheet calculation will show how long it will take to get your money back.

    6) Appraisers have devalued property in Uptown and banks are incredibly strict now for properties in this area.

    7) More new construction for market-rate condos are a bad idea. If it is funded by TIF's that is even more crazy.

    But, on a positive note, there are MANY people in the same position as you if you have the above problems. If you have rent parity and own, you are still okay.

    The best that we can hope for is that our neighborhood becomes a better place to live. However, even if that happens I do not see property values returning to bubble prices any time soon.

    Good luck to my neighbors.

  10. Oh, one other note. What about the Wilson Men's Hotel? That place has to go.

  11. Condos of any kind aren't going to be built in Uptown or anywhere in the immediate vicinity anytime soon, so i really don't see the need to worry about it. As far as property values in Uptown go, the bubble in this area was particularly laughable given the problems with the hood which never went away or worsened. As for the above comment about comps, in Uptown, forget 2001, think more like '90s before things bottom in '13 or '14. This is an area that will have to think long term in terms of improving crime and filling business vacancies, if and when that happens the lakeside with good transit boasts won't ring so hollow.

  12. 6) Appraisers have devalued property in Uptown and banks are incredibly strict now for properties in this area.

    Closer Look at the decling in chicago home prices

    This articles states

    "Some of these are no surprise - like Uptown at the head of the pack with a 14.4% home price decline in the last year."

    Why is Uptown at the head of the pack, and why is it no surprise?

  13. "Why is Uptown at the head of the pack, and why is it no surprise?"

    Because they were ridiculously inflated for a neighborhood with a long ways to go on the gentrification trail. There was no good reason 2/1s were selling for north of 250k in this neighborhood.

    Way too many people bought into Uptown thinking it was just a few years away from being the next northside lakeshore hood to gentrify but without any intention of staying put for a long time. Think flippers, people priced out of lakeview and those looking to live in the city for a few years before heading to the burbs. These same people paid way too much and are now flooding the market because they either had no intention of staying and/or are out of work. The result, crashing prices...IMO back to where they should be.

    I think Uptown bottoms out in '13 or '14 once all the shadow inventory works its way through. That is of course barring another 8k home buyer boondoggle which only delayed the inevitable.

    On the plus side, a future that includes $5 gas could be good news on the demand front for communities well served with transit.

    The boom prices won't be back anytime soon, but if we can get crime under control, things should turn around.

  14. In re Capt. Picard's comment about interest rates, I read articles that once interest rates start to rise, people who want to buy but are hesitant to will finalize and purchase to lock down low rates. I see both sides...

  15. Alek,

    Financially, building more condos in Uptown makes no sense. The only worry is that local politicians might want to help developers by giving them TIF money. I believe that James has more sense than this, but we can only hope.

    I think 90's might be a little extreme but it is possible. I didn't want to be a total downer. This neighborhood has improved since the 90's. If I was buying property today I would research the 2006 price and take off 1/3 at least, regardless of the condition of the property, just to start.

    I will note that this is for investment purposes, not quality of life issues.

    "Why is it no surprise?"

    Politics. Years of bad leadership and bad policy. Making the poor dependent on the system, screwing the middle class and making the rich richer. The sad thing is, I don't think that policy-makers really understand these issues.

  16. Thanks for your reply, Alek!

  17. Alek, just so we are clear.. the majority of us that bought in Uptown were not 'yuppie flippers" We were folks that had saved up money for a downpayment and wanted to buy in a neighborhood we could afford... and yes, hoped would be safe... I think it is disingenuous for you to make blanket statements about someone that bought here in teh past 10 years. I did my research, I knew what was in Uptown, I had no illusions as to whether or not it would be the next Lakeview...

    .. I did NOT, however, expect the worse economy in 80 years to strick so soon after I bought.. I did not expect the banking system to implode and unemployment to reach incredibly high numbers...I did not expect the real estate market to collapse in a historic fashion.. I did not expect my partner to lose his job because of huge cutbacks of companies that stopped traveling, etc etc...

    So, Alek, the name is new on this blog so I will cut you a little slack.. but dont be an ass snd quite acting like a no it all. I lot of hard working people put a lot of thought in to purchasing in Uptown...and just got caught in a horrible economy through no fault of theirs... try a little kindness and a lot less sanctimony...

  18. .. and yes, after my comments were posted, I noted a number of misspellings... I hope the tone and tenor of my post was understood ...before someone jumps on the imperfections I wanted to self-correct. My bad for multi-tasking...

  19. I just moved into a condo in Uptown. (We're renting it though) We strongly considered buying due to the interest rate, but the reality is that Uptown prices are still a little unrealistic. I agree with other comments that the prices should come back in line around 2013 or 2014.

    We're waiting because we feel like the shadow properties will cause another dip in prices. So far I like Uptown, but I'm not paying these kinds of prices and worrying about gang shootings on my way home from work.

    I'm really curious about the June announcement for the Wilson stop too.

  20. Rob-

    I'm sorry if my post came across as sanctimonious but that wasn't my attention.

    I in no way mean to bash people who did things the write way, saved, researched and bought into a community with plans of putting down roots and these are the same people getting screwed the worse.

    I also can't help but notice you jumped at me and quoted for some reason the word yuppie, which I never used but know from following the blog, carries some baggage.

    As for what you said about the economy at large, you're spot on and that's why even much safer neighborhoods saw massive drops. I'm sure there are plenty of people who did things the right way in Uptown and got screwed, but we wouldn't be in this mess, if there weren't plenty who didn't.

  21. Rob,

    I don't think Alek was trying to insult you. There are tons of people in your situation. Myself included.

  22. CP-

    "Financially, building more condos in Uptown makes no sense. The only worry is that local politicians might want to help developers by giving them TIF money. I believe that James has more sense than this, but we can only hope."

    I'm not worried, in this climate i don't think a developer even with TIF money will go down that road and yes, i too believe James has more sense than that.

    "I think 90's might be a little extreme but it is possible. I didn't want to be a total downer. This neighborhood has improved since the 90's. If I was buying property today I would research the 2006 price and take off 1/3 at least, regardless of the condition of the property, just to start."

    1/3 is probably a good number but will vary somewhat depending on where in Uptown we're talking about.

    "Politics. Years of bad leadership and bad policy. Making the poor dependent on the system, screwing the middle class and making the rich richer. The sad thing is, I don't think that policy-makers really understand these issues."

    Obvioulsy this^

    Housing markets across Chicago were slaughtered, given the leadership and development practices in Uptown i don't see how anyone could be surprised this areas was hit one of the worst.

  23. What makes no sense is giving any TIF money to this property. It's is one of the most valuable open tracks of land on the lake front.

    If anything give them money to demolish the buildings and wait for a market rate developer to come around.

    This is not a blighted area at all.

  24. I would also like to point out that there were many City employees (Whom everybody is after these days) who KNEW what was happening, advised leadership and were dismissed as idiots. (And I am not talking about union janitors.) Many explained the "bundled mortgage" issue, the loose lending standards, the shoddy construction issues, etc. It was dismissed as fantasy.

    There was also PLENTY of warning at the federal level. I can't vouch for issues in the state or county, as the leadership was generally dismissed as hopeless.

  25. Ah. On a positive note again, I have been working on a lot of real estate today so I am full of comments. After checking out many properties today in different areas of the city, I am bullish on Uptown real estate medium term. I am not saying 10% a year from the bottom, but I am saying 3% a year 1/3 of the 2006 price. (assuming the place is in good condition and not distressed.) At least compared to other places in the city. I saw five properties today that are in way worse shape than any legit buyer that I know in Uptown. So at least this hood is beating the market!

  26. I agree with the first comment......why should there be a 'Tif' at such a prime location?!

  27. Here's the thing though - I bought my place 7 years ago and so over those 7 years, how much $$ would I have wasted on RENT? Probably as much as the equity I've lost... So, am I really worse off?

  28. Meg,

    That is a common mis-perception. I am not sure what your situation is but it all depends on rent parity. Use this NYT calculator to figure out your situation. It will tell you if it was cheaper to rent or own over them time period in question. Don't forget that prices have fallen 30% the past 5 years.

  29. CP- It looks like sales in Uptown were at a 10 yr low in late '10 early '11 and probably won't bump up much during the spring/summer buying season. Median sale price has fallen to around 2000-2002 levels and dropping. On the plus side, I do think the neighborhood is close to being appropriately priced, especially outside the worst of the troubled areas, where there are actually some good deals on relativevly quiet and safe blocks.

  30. I agree. We are looking at 2001-2002 pricing.

  31. Cpt. Picard - cool calculator and yep - I was right in my situation.

  32. So....when can we expect this 5-point assessment to be released?

    It seems to me all this information would already be readily available from a number of sources.

    We are almost swimming in a sea of real estate and crime data.

    So what is the point of spending more time, and money I would guess, on yet another "assessment?

    I kinda agree with "A", Clarendon and Montrose should just be made into a greenfield until the market improves. The developer Sedgwick has already lied and been otherwise deceptive in the past, what can they possibly "propose" now that would justify approx. $50 million in tax money thrown their way.

    Those spanking new condos Sedgwick wants to build will flood a vacancy saturated market, both retail and residential.

    Rather then negotiate with Sedgwick we should do like Nancy reagan used to tell us...."Just Say No!"

  33. Hey Jeffrey (Arts) how about you calling Helen, your buddy, who is still collecting a paycheck until next Tuesday, and ask her?

    And then, you can take a breath, and let James at least be sworn into office before making demands about when... like I said,, Helen NEVER shared anything with the community.. at least James is taking a step back, re-evaluating, and then moving forward.

    I agree, I think additional condos are the wrong idea at the wrong time.. but I do think I respect Cappleman enough at this point to at least let the guy become our Alderman before I will start throwing demands at the guy.. I know you would have wanted Molly to have time... I hope you show the same respect to James..

  34. @ Rob

    It was a question...not a demand.

    When will this 5-point assessment be released? Approximately that is...2 weeks, 2 months, a year? That is a good question not a demand, won't get answered but I am fine with that.

    We know the vacancy rates and where they are in the ward.

    We are as I said swimming in crime data. What else do we need to know or discover? Honestly....what?

    So now me and "Helen" are buddies you say? Why do ya say that?

    No fact we never hung out, drank beer together or played frisbee, etc. So where have you been getting this info...from another 5-point study perhaps?....I dunno......

    At least we agree on the condo question eh Rob...and that must count for something. Cheers to that!