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4 Reasons Not To Ignore South Shore

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Chicago is defined by its "North Side-South Side" rivalry, and the South Side is scoring some major points lately. Markets like Hyde Park and Pilsen are rapidly changing with more development and investment, and as opportunities are decreasing there, another neighborhood is attracting attention: South Shore. Here are four reasons to keep an eye (and maybe some earnest money) on South Shore real estate.

1. It's A Potential Gold Mine For Industrial Development

A view of US Steel's former South Works campus on Chicago's south lakefront.

The biggest question regarding South Shore is what will happen with US Steel's former South Works campus? US Steel and McCaffery Interests tried (and failed) to turn it into Chicago's next major multifamily redevelopment. The plan faced several obstacles, including lack of public transit in the area, an inability to move forward with financing and the sheer scope of the project. US Steel hired Cushman & Wakefield to market the site to potential buyers and rebranded it 8080 Lakeshore. The 430-acre campus can be sold as one complete site, or piecemeal, and the southern edge near the Cal-Sag Channel should draw significant interest from industrial developers.

Another developer, Centerport, retained NGKF to market a 197-acre industrial park nearby. It's the largest contiguous piece of industrial real estate inside Chicago's city limits. The future success of Centreport Industrial Park would bode well for an industrial gold rush in South Shore.

2. Its Growing Multifamily Sector

An apartment building at 7100 South Shore Drive, Chicago

Hyde Park's real estate activity is having a positive effect on South Shore. The University of Chicago is the primary catalyst for investment in Hyde Park, whether it's selling off multifamily and student housing assets or its winning bid for the Obama Presidential Library. And Hyde Park's multifamily construction pipeline is robust with new product like the Jeanne Gang-designed Solstice on the Park and Avison Young's Vue53. The growing rent spreads from these and other projects are causing longtime residents to seek cheaper rents elsewhere. South Shore, with a nice supply of older apartments, is on their radar.

And the proof is in the rent growth. A report from Axiometrics shows South Shore led the metro Chicago area in rent increases. If the South Works site is sold in parcels, multifamily development would be another strong option.

3. The Plethora Of Adaptive Reuse Possibilities

Stony Island Arts Bank, Chicago
Stony Island Arts Bank

Artist Theaster Gates made worldwide headlines with his adaptive reuse projects in South Shore and neighboring Woodlawn. (Shown: Gates' Stony Island Arts Bank) These projects proved there's an appetite for arts and culture "out south" (as South Siders say) and that draws interest from developers seeking to breathe new life into older buildings that have been vacant for years.

4. Don't Forget The Obama Library

Jackson Park and Osaka Gardens, Chicago

The Obamas' choice of Jackson Park for the Obama Presidential Library in July took most observers by surprise, especially seeing all the lots the University of Chicago bought in Washington Park. The Obama Foundation said Jackson Park's history and its proximity to the lakefront were major factors in the decision. The Obama Library's potential to be an economic generator for the South Side will have several upsides to future development in neighboring South Shore, including infrastructure and much-needed public transit improvements.