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4 Reasons Not To Ignore Little Village


Originally settled in the late 19th century by Irish and eastern European immigrants, Little Village today is home to Chicago's highest concentration of Mexican-Americans and immigrants, and has earned the nickname "Mexico of the Midwest."

Little Village used to be home to booming factories. But the changing demographics and economic makeup in the neighborhood have it primed for new development by the right investors. Here are four reasons why Little Village could be a sleeper neighborhood for real estate development.

1. Retail

Little Village's 26th Street anchors the second-largest retail district in Chicago.

There is buying power on 26th Street. The two-mile stretch of 26th Street between Western Avenue and Pulaski Road generated $900M in sales in 2015, making it the second-highest grossing shopping district in Chicago and the highest-grossing district outside of the Mag Mile.

26th Street is also dense with an array of independent businesses and retail chains. Over 1,000 businesses call 26th Street home. The Little Village Chamber of Commerce contributes to the ongoing success of the district with free legal advice for small-business owners, a list of available properties in the area for businesses looking to call Little Village home, and a calendar of events highlighted by the annual Mexican Independence Parade, the largest such parade in the Midwest.

2. Access To Transportation

Central Park Pink Line 'L' Station, Chicago

There was a time when Little Village was underserved from a public transportation standpoint. But two projects have changed that in recent years. The Pink Line, launched in 2006, was a welcome addition to CTA's 'L' system and last year ferried over 5 million riders to and from downtown. In 2012, CTA extended the 35th Street bus route to 31st Street, from Kedzie Avenue to the Cicero Avenue Pink Line station. This allows residents on the southern edge of Little Village access to the Red and Orange Lines and job opportunities downtown and on the North and Near South Sides.

3. It Is A Neighborhood Opportunity Area

St. Anthony Hospital

Little Village is one of seven neighborhoods designated by the Emanuel administration in 2013 as a "neighborhood opportunity area." The program provides a mix of public and private funds for infrastructure and economic development. Four projects in Little Village have been earmarked under the plan: redeveloping the former Celotex site as new Chicago park; redeveloping the former Washburne site as St. Anthony Hospital and Wellness Campus; building a new gateway to 26th Street with additional street resurfacing and traffic signals; and renovating early learning facilities at McCormick Elementary School.

The Washburne site is the one that could dramatically alter the neighborhood. The 1.1M SF project calls for moving St. Anthony to the Washburne tract as part of a proposed community hub. The project's developers received approval in March from Emanuel's Community Development Commission to buy the site for $1. Redevelopment is expected to cost $600M.

4. It Is Perfect For Infill Industrial

2415 West 19th St.

Little Village's southern border runs parallel to I-55, which keen observers will note is one of the Chicago market's strongest industrial corridors. Retailers and e-commerce companies seeking a Chicago address have ample vacant warehouses and manufacturing plants that can be repurposed for distribution and order fulfillment.

Little Village is also home to several brownfields, including the Crawford coal plant, which ceased operations in 2012 under a deal brokered by the mayor's office. Last year, the Delta Institute and Little Village Environmental Justice Organization released a report showing how these brownfields could be repurposed to spur economic development and meet the needs of the community.