PULLMAN — Some residents hope Pullman could be the next hot neighborhood on the South Side if things continue to look up.
President Barack Obama's designation of Pullman as a national monument earlier this year, along with the new Method Soap Factory has helped put Pullman back on the map, residents and Realtors said. A new Wal-Mart and other retail stores have provided more shopping options to the neighborhood.
“I think it’s going to be the next big thing outside of Hyde Park,” said Aundrea English, 36, who has lived on the 10700 block of South Champlain for the last three years.
What attracted her to her home was simple, she said. The neighbors were friendly, and she fell in love with the make of the historic rowhomes. The solid foundation, the bricks, the “east coast feel,” all had her sold after touring her house for the first time.
“I wanted to be in something trendy, but it had to be affordable,” English said. “I can’t afford Hyde Park, I can’t afford Bronzeville. ... so this was perfect.”
The neighborhood is improving, she said. When she first moved in, there were a lot of renters, but now just about everyone owns their home. She said it makes a difference.
Patricia Bolton, 68, agrees, saying that she has witnessed the transition. Bolton has lived on the same block as English for eight years.
“The block is much better than what it was when I moved here,” she said. “It was totally infested with drugs and crime, you couldn’t hardly sit on your porch.”
Bolton said she tried to organize a block club when she first moved in, but it was difficult.
“It didn’t move because it wasn’t the right people here who would want it to move,” she said, adding that that isn’t the case anymore. Bolton is working on getting a block club started again.
She said that the people on her block are close, and the tight-knit community feels like family. She attributes the influx of new neighbors in part to a nearby Metra stop and good access to CTA buses
“It’s coming back to how it was back in the day, where people watch out for each other,” Bolton said.
Realtors with homes listed in the neighborhood say that Pullman is on the rise. They say developers are buying up property and rehabbed homes are selling quickly.
Mike Wolski, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker, has been selling homes in Pullman for 10 years. He said that he has seen more people taking an interest in the area's rowhouses.
“The neighborhood is one of a kind,” Wolski said, “It was built as a company town in the 1880s, and virtually almost all the original houses made in the 1880s period are still standing. Most of the houses are in good shape and people want to be a part of that. The architecture is really and truly one of a kind. There’s nothing else like it in Chicago.”
He said homes have been selling at prices between $75,000 to $140,000, depending on the condition.
On Aug. 29, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI) and Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of Chicago partnered together to host an open house and block party for some newly renovated homes. Three such homes were for sale on Bolton’s block, and now only one is left.
Sale prices have gone up in North Pullman, said Brian Caron, a managing broker with AMS Realty because “newly rehabbed homes are in demand in Pullman.” Between 2011-2014, the average prices on their renovated homes has gone up, from under $70,000 to now $95,000, Caron said.
Wolski said increased list prices of these homes are a huge improvement over the foreclosure sales that the block saw in previous years.
But it's not all good news in this Far South Side neighborhood: Other parts of Pullman are just starting to rebound from the housing crash in the late 2000s.
Home values in Pullman in the area roughly between 111th and 115th streets have gone down substantially since a peak in December 2006, according to Zillow, a real estate listing website that includes many — but not all — properties listed in the Pullman area. But the site says the median sale price has crept back to $91,100 this summer. It predicts prices will rise by 1.4 percent next year.
In West Pullman, Zillow says homes have gone down by about 1 percent in the last year, to $87,100. But it predicts prices will increase by .6 percent in the next year.
Redfin, looking at a larger area, puts the median list price of Pullman homes at $110,000, although it says the median sale price is still under $50,000.
Caron says the lower prices reflect homes in foreclosure or being purchased by developers for rehab.
"You still have a high number of abandoned, foreclosed, distressed properties," he said.
The excessive amount of vacant homes have attracted developers, said Conrade Carpenter, of City & Suburbs Realty, who know the homes will be in demand once they are rehabbed. That is showing up in the higher prices being paid for those properties, which are some cases as high as they were in the 1960s, said Carpenter, who grew up in the area. He said the resurgence is happening even with the stigma that the area sometimes gets because of crime.
“I have seen the changes of the neighborhood over the years, [especially] with the new development things going on and Pullman being historic," he said. "It's coming back."
English said she's excited for the future.
"I can’t wait to see what’s next," English said. "All we need are some live music places, and a couple of places to stay, some sit-down restaurants. Those things are coming."
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