The 2003 condo conversion of the nationally landmarked South Water Market, now relocated and rebranded as the Chicago International Produce Market, brought 926 units to market at the rough juncture of University Village, Pilsen, and Little Italy. It has since won Landmark Illinois’ prestigious Driehaus Foundation Award, recognizing excellence in adaptive reuse, and provides a robust supply of condos to buy or rent. The conversion retained many telltale elements of the structures’ intended use, such as loading docks and long canopies. And as an extension of the original, unsterilized Maxwell Street Market, this area was for decades the state capital of wholesale.
The five-city-block development joins the town homes and mid-rises of University Village to the north and east to form an archipelago of midmarket housing where the old fabric of the neighborhood was disrupted long ago. At any given time there are at least a dozen units for sale at University Commons; I pulled out the newest and priciest for closer examination.
Broker Aaron Share of KoenigRubloff hopes it’s not a hindrance being above the expected price point for this complex. So far—and it’s early—his third- and fourth-floor two-bedroom duplex “isn’t quite capturing the average buyer in the development looking in the $325,000 range.” However, two same-sized duplex units on the backside of 1111 W 14th Place sold recently for $355,000, giving good precedent for a $375,000 ask. And Share’s unit has superior views from the north face of the building—the top floor terrace inches over tree line to frame up a chunk of skyline.
The condo’s 1,397-square-foot interior layout has a refreshing simplicity. Its living areas are pushed to the front windows; the kitchen is pocket-like but roomy; a bedroom, bathroom, and den are partitioned off to one side; and the master suite fills the loft level. The ceilings are 12’ and concrete and the windows on both levels are floor-to-ceiling.
The complex also has about three acres of courtyard above garage parking, and somewhere an outdoor pool breaks the repetition. The condos are favorites of UIC and Rush Hospital staff.
Price Points: Simplex two-bed units below and behind the featured space are on the market in the $325,000 range. All upper floor units at the back of the building face the interior courtyard and parallel structures, beyond which is an extra wide rail yard dividing University Village and Pilsen.
The seller paid $410,000 for the duplex in April 2008. You can only wait so long to resell if the time has come, and after a few years of renting the space out there was no longer any sense in stalling. Comps are definitely above where they were two years ago, even though the depression is prolonged. “There was a dip in Bucktown and Wicker Park, too, but they bounced back in a year,” says Share.