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  Written by
  John Easton

  Imaging by
  Dan Dry

  Text-only
  version


  FEATURES
  > > Hyde Park revisited
  > >
Hugo Sonnenschein
  > >
Pan-Asian persuasion

 


After a half-century of disdain and indifference, much of Chicago's South Side--especially the University community of Hyde Park--has taken off, becoming a "hot" market in a "hot" city.

image: FeaturesJeffrey Chase needs a place to live, in Hyde Park--maybe. An Emmy-winning photojournalist turned art photographer, house rehabber, and partner of a poet, he has a 12:30 appointment to tour the neighborhood and see some real estate with Rose Dyrud, supervisor of housing services for the University. But he's running late. He's circling the block. There's no place to park.

AT A GLANCE...
> > Hyde Park--turning the corner
> > Kenwood--an anchor to bank on
> > Dining with the stars

A purposeful man, he double-parks, finds Rose. A resourceful woman, she guides him into a gated lot, shepherds him into her Toyota, and speeds him to a one o'clock date to see a set of condominiums being converted at 5225 South Greenwood. His goal is to get acquainted with the South Side, gauge the local housing market, gain a sense of what's out there and what it's going to cost, and perhaps find the perfect home, at a tolerable price. Hers is to convince him it can be done. In some ways, the future of the community, and the University--as it competes to recruit and retain top faculty, staff, and students--depends on her continued success.

image: Co-op Markets
Co-op Markets The new Co-op is the area's first major grocery store in 50-plus years.

Chase (not his real name) is the advance guard for his partner, an up-and-coming poet and a potential U of C faculty member, author of three books, winner of major prizes and fellowships, and a finalist for several literary awards. He teaches creative writing at a big Midwestern university, recently entertained a rival offer from a California university, is currently a visiting professor at a Big Ten school, and may be coming to Chicago.

They own a beautiful Craftsman-style house in a smaller city: three bedrooms, about 1,800 square feet, a mile from campus. They bought it for $80,000 a few years ago and have fixed it up. They're looking to find comparable housing, at something not too far from a small-town price. They liked southern California but not the depressed area around the campus, and they have not been thrilled with the Big Ten town. "Too laid back," says Chase. "Every day there feels like Sunday."

image: Co-op Markets
The old Co-op shopping center now has a sidewalk cafe.

As Dyrud zips north on Ellis, Chase studies the neighborhood, weighing the details, rounding out his first impressions, dominated initially by the parking issue. He is encouraged to see few bars on apartment windows. Although the first pedestrian they pass walks a pit bull, the sight is soon offset by a stylish poodle/owner pair. "I don't have a lot right now to show you," says Dyrud as she turns onto 52nd. "The market's very tight."

"It's a seller's market?"

"It's a seller's market."

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  JUNE 2000
  > > Volume 92, Number 5


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