Once a blighted eyesore that depressed adjacent property values, Chicago’s abandoned Bloomingdale elevated rail line has had the opposite effect since opening as The 606 biking and pedestrian trail in June of 2015. One just has to look at the trail’s prevalence in real estate descriptions or observe the amount of residential renovations and new construction taking place in the immediate vicinity of The 606 to realize the dramatic impact the 2.7-mile linear park has had on its neighborhoods.
While the “606 effect” is hardly surprising, the extent of the trail’s boost to nearby housing prices is nothing short of staggering. According to a new report issued by the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University and cited by the Chicago Tribune, the price of single family homes within a half mile of the trail have surged an unprecedented 48.2 percent over the three years since The 606 broke ground. This increase has been a major boon for property owners, house flippers, and home builders alike.
Though pricy neighborhoods on the eastern end of the trail such as Wicker Park and Bucktown would have likely seen real estate prices surge regardless of the trail’s construction, The 606 has had the largest effect on home prices east of Western Avenue in places like Logan Square and Humboldt Park. As a result, complaints of high rents and the hegemonic effect of gentrification has come from these traditionally hispanic and relatively affordable areas.
Moving forward, it will be interesting to see this dynamic play out in other parts of the city such as Pilsen where a similar project dubbed the “Paseo” would convert nearly four miles of abandoned track into a new trail. The 606, meanwhile, is poised to be extended eastward over the river to Lincoln Park’s former Finkl Steel site by prolific Chicago real estate developer Sterling Bay.