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Wicker Park, Bucktown Home Values Spike After Bloomingdale Trail Opens

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Jul 27, 2015 2:14PM

Just weeks after the opening of the newly-transformed Bloomingdale Trail, known as The 606, thousands of homeowners in Wicker Park and Bucktown are seeing their property valuations soar.

Home owners are reporting seeing whopping 30-60 percent increases in their home values this year in housing value reassessments handed out by Cook County officials. The county last assessed the values of these homes in 2012.

About 107,000 homeowners received their new valuations in the mail this month, according to DNAinfo, and they have until Aug. 17 to appeal the assessments. If they don't appeal, they are likely to see their property taxes spike in the coming year too. That could mean more annual housing costs for homeowners and increased rents for renters.

The median sale price for a home in the city's West Township, which encompasses some of its most popular West Side neighborhoods, has gone up 34 percent for condos and 12.3 percent for other types of residences, according to a release from the office of Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios.

"There is every indication that the tax rate will be significantly increased this year," Gary H. Smith, a property tax lawyer, told DNAinfo.

While some new homeowners, posting on the local forum Everyblock, say their new valuations are more in-line with the above-value prices they paid for their home in 2013, 2014 or 2015, other longtime area homeowners say they are afraid of being slapped with outsized property taxes that could force them to sell.

One homeowner told Chicagoist the valuation on his townhouse, at the intersection of Rockwell and Bloomingdale avenues, went up over 80 percent this year—from $243,000 to $445,000.

"I'm not sure how that lower valuation came to be, as units never sold for that amount when the development was built in 2001, or at the bottom of the market a few years ago," he said in an email.

Some affordable housing advocates have warned that increases in property values, and by extension property taxes, are likely to lead to massive rent hikes in the area, which has already seen significant boosts in rent in recent years. The Logan Square Neighborhood Association, for example, has been pushing Berrios's office to support property tax abatement measures or even offer exemptions to longtime homeowners. Advocates of this plan worry that the construction and opening of the Bloomingdale Trail have spurred the increase in home prices, but homes across West Town, even those more than a mile away from the trail, are affected.