Cabrini Green- Formally Home to Chicago’s Most Infamous Project Housing Now Turned Mixed-Income Community

For my evaluation for Cabrini Green I used Division as the northern border, the Chicago River as the western boundary, Orleans as the eastern border (south of Oak) and LaSalle as the eastern border (north of Oak), and Chicago Ave as the southern border.

The Cabrini Green neighborhood was originally a shantytown built on low-lying land along Chicago River in the 1850s. The population was predominantly Swedish, then Irish. By the 20th century the neighborhood transitioned into a heavy Sicilian population and became an area of concentrated poverty and organized crime. With this history its not surprising that Cabrini Green was one of the first urban renewal and affordable housing targets in Chicago. In 1942, Frances Cabrini Homes (two-story rowhouses), with 586 units in 54 buildings were the first public housing units built. This was only the beginning as at its peak Cabrini–Green was home to 15,000 people mostly living in mid- and high-rise apartment buildings. Crime and neglect created hostile living conditions for many residents, and “Cabrini–Green” became synonymous for problems associated with public housing across America. In 1995, the Chicago Housing Authority began tearing down many of buildings,  Today, only the original Cabrini Green rowhouses remain.

On a positive note, Cabrini Green has become a testing ground for trying out new mixed-income housing models where in many buildings high end condos abut subsidized rentals without any difference in appearance nor layout. Cabrini Green has also seen a significant amount of purely market rated development thanks to its proximity to River North.  Building by building quality urban form and density are returning to Cabrini Green and cohesive business districts along Chicago, Wells, and Division are beginning to coalesce. With more infill development I’m also confident that missing retail and cultural amenities will improve and Cabrini Green will once again be a vibrant walkable community that it once was before its misplaced urban renewal.

Click here to view my Cabrini-Green Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Pretty poor density for a Chicago neighborhood.
* Good overall ADA and sidewalk infrastructure. A couple spots of deteriorating sidewalks and dated curb cuts.
* Excellent access to Dwtn esp. River North just east of Cabrini Green.
* Great public transit access. 3 subway lines run through the neighborhood.
* Great bike amenities too including great bike rental coverage and a couple good dedicated bike lanes.
* Good overall diversity. Certainly more racial and economic diversity in Cabrini Green than other Near Northside Neighborhoods.
* Okay # of schools in Cabrini and surrounding area but generally well rated.
* Good diversity of for sale housing mixed moderately price and upscale. Fewer hsg options than surrounding River North but still pretty good. 1-bed condos sell btwn 200K-550K, 2-beds btwn 250K-750K, 3 & 4 beds sell btwn 450K- around 1 M. Some products sells for more.
* Significant amount of dedicated affordable mixed-income buildings have been constructed in the neighborhood with the demo of Cabrini Green.
* Good park amenities including several nice small-medium sized parks.
* Other than the remaining Cabrini Green Rowhouses (the last of the larger Cabrini Green projects) the neighborhood is pretty safe.
* Generally pretty good urban in-fill stretching from the 90s to the present day. The newer infill is the best.
* Streetscaping in Cabrini Green is generally pretty good.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Cabrini Green and several other mid century development messed up the street grid in parts but the neighborhood still has the solid grid of the main street and other historic streets that were unaffected.
* Lots of rents but generally expensive. Studios and 1-beds lease btwn the low 1Ks-3K, 2-beds 2.5K-5K, 3-beds lease btwn 3K-6K.
* Ok cultural amenities within Cabrini Green including some restaurants, cafes, bars, and night clubs. Tons of art galleries a couple blocks south of Chicago and lots of other amenities in adjacent River North, Gold Coast, and Old Town.
* Retail amenities are pretty limited being so close to Dwtn. But some good stuff including a target (which has a pharmacy & supermarket), a couple banks, a couple gyms, a book store, and public library. Good access to all the retail amenities in neighborhood River North.
* Historic architecture is limited.
* Much of the urban fabric was wiped away with Cabrini Green but it is being built and merged with what wasn’t demolished esp. along Chicago, Wells, LaSalle, and Division. Vacant lots are also filling in the interior too.
* Ok tree canopy. Has a ways to rebound.
* The Neighborhood image is certainly improving.

Douglas- Historic South Chicago Neighborhood Most Impacted by Urban Renewal

For this evaluation I only reviewed the portion of Douglas north of Pershing Avenue although the southern half of Douglas between Pershing and 31th is also historically considered part of Bronzeville. The Douglas neighborhood is named after Stephen A. Douglas, Abraham Lincoln’s political foe in the 1860 presidential election. His estate included a tract of land given to the federal government later developed for use as the Civil War Union training and prison camp. Of all the sections of Douglas originally developed by Stephen A. Douglas, only the oval-shaped Groveland Park survives. State Street between 30th and 35th and 35th Streets were major cultural hubs in historic Bronzeville. 

Sadly, the Douglas neighborhood was part of the City’s largest urban renewal project, which began in 1946. It included  the construction of the Illinois Institute of Technology, Mercy Hospital, Prairie Shores, and the 1677 unit Lake Meadows public housing project. Fortunately  Prairie Shores has been adopted as middle-class market rate condo community.  The scale of the urban renewal efforts in Douglas is truly astounding as it covered around 75% of the neighborhood. Sadly urban renewal at the time was founded on racist policies that did not think twice about removing and displacing this cultural home for thousands of African Americans and countless businesses. In the ensuing decades between the 1960s-2000s, Douglas remained an area of concentrated African American poverty with limited cultural and retail amenities. Since the 2000s Douglas has slowly rebounded  with blight being stabilized and the remaining historic stock being renovated and accursing value. 37th Street has seen some new businesses but most of the historic retail fabric of the district has not been rebuilt nor has their been much development spill over from IIT into the neighborhood.

Like its neighborhood Bronzeville to the South, the next chapter in Douglas is rebuilding and healing the urban fabric that was severely wounded by urban renewal and racism. I am hopeful that in 2 decades Douglas may be completed reconstructed given its convenient location near the South Loop, and waning of old racist mentalities, which placed South Chicago in the “do not flight zone” for Whites. I just hope that enough retail amenities are built so this can truly become a thriving mixed-use neighborhood as opposed to an awkward mix of urban density with limited walkability.

Click here to view my Douglas Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Decent density.
* Great public transit access.
* Generally good ADA curbs and sidewalks but some underinvested stretches of sidewalks.
* Excellent access to Dwtn being only 3 miles south.
* Great bike coverage with several dedicated bike lanes and lots of dedicated bike stations.
* Thanks to the IL Institute of Technology Douglas has a decent Asian population and an ok generational diversity.
* Lots of walkable schools but of mixed ratings.
kept up nicely.
* Decent # of rentals and generally moderately priced but some luxury product with its close proximity to South Loop. 1-beds lease btwn $850-2K, 2-beds lease btwn the mid 1Ks to 2.5K, and plenty of 3-beds available that lease btwn 1.5K-3.5K. A handful for 4 beds at a similar rent. Significant amount of dedicated afford rentals here.
* For sale is a mix of moderately priced and higher end product. Decent # of  studio condos selling btwn 75K-200K, 1 bed condos that sell btwn 135K-350K, 2-beds sell btwn 125K-500K, 3 & 4 beds btwn  225K-800K.
* Excellent park amenities including the expansive Lakefront park, large and multi-faceted Dunbar, Ellis, and Lake Meadows park, and lots of smaller parks and greenspaces on mid-century tower developments.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Good connectivity along the main streets but due to urban renewal side streets often have limited connectivity and often dead end.
* Economic diversity is not the best. Over half of the population is living in poverty but still some middle and upper middle class households.
* Crime seems to generally be under control in Douglas and less so than Grand Boulevard to the south. Also far fewer vacant bldgs here as blight is mostly cleaned up. Plenty of vacant lots but generally maintained.
* Cultural amenities are limited including some restaurants,  a couple cafes, a brewery, a couple historic sites, and some cultural amenities at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).
* Docent retail amenities including 2 supermarkets, a couple drug stores, several banks, a Hardware store, a couple boutiques, lots of salons/barber shops, a couple dessert joints and gyms. a local public library and post office, a major hospital, and several churches.
* Much of Douglas historic urban fabric and most of its urban biz district fabric has been demolished. Some good stretches along 35th and a few along Pershing.
* Some better recent modern in-fill but most of it is cold mid century or bland 90s/early 2000s infill. Also a lot of autocentric infill.

Bronzeville- Chicago’s Historic African America Center

The Bronzeville neighborhood is an expansive one with a bit of fuzzy boundaries. I used the southern boundary to be both 51st St and 43rd St., the northern border at Pershing Rd, the western I-90 and the eastern boundary is College Grove and the lakefront parks. I thus included the southern half of the Oakland subdistrict and all of Grand Boulevard.

Originally the Grand Boulevard neighborhood hosted many of Chicago’s elite establishing stately homes along the lavish boulevards (MLK and Drexel Boulevards). It wasn’t until the 1890s that the neighborhood began to transform into an extension of the expanding Near Southside African-American community. By the 1920s Bronzeville was the site of Chicago’s version of the Harlem Renaissance, and home to many famous African-Americans. Black-owned newspapers, restaurants, clubs, theaters, and other businesses “the city within a city” were founded on and around State Street between 30th and 35th (“The Stroll”) and 43rd Street and 47th Street between State Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. Its hard to express just how massive this footprint was, probably 2-3 times the size of Harlem. The Great Depression hit the area hard but racist policies of city government were the most destructive force to the neighborhood. In 1941, the city built the infamous and gigantic Ida B Wells housing projects btwn 35th and Pershing and in 1961 the Robert Taylor high rises covering many blocks along State Street. You may recall seeing these along I-90 on the way to Downtown. Both projects produced severe social problems exacerbated by concentrated poverty. They were demolished by the 2000s.

Thankfully the 21st century has been more positive for Bronzeville. Population contrasted from 78K in 1950 to 18K in 2010 but has began to rebound the past decade. Much needed residential in-fill has begun to emerge throughout the neighborhood, especially along stronger residential streets. Commercial development has lagged behind but some new mixed-use bldgs emerged along Cottage Avenue and renovated storefronts in the remaining nodes of business district fabric along 47th Street. Urban strengths for Bronzeville include great public transit access, decent bike infrastructure, convenience to Downtown, great park amenities, diverse housing options and a relatively affordable neighborhood to buy a condo or home.

Click here to view my Bronzeville Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Solid urban density.
* Very consistent curb cuts at modern standards. Sidewalks are generally good but still some sections of crumbling sidewalks generally corresponding to areas of vacancy.
* Excellent access to public transit.
* Solid bike infrastructure with length dedicated bike lanes running down MLK Blvd and Drexel Blvd and many dedicate bike stations.
* Good connectivity overall.
* Still a good amount of quality historic buildings remaining with most of the residential being kept up nicely.
* Decent # of rentals and generally moderately priced. 1-beds lease in the low-mid 1Ks, 2-beds lease btwn the mid 1Ks to low 2K, and plenty of 3-beds available that lease btwn the high 1Ks to 3K. Some 4-beds as well that are at a similar rent. Significant amount of dedicated afford rentals here.
* Decent # of 1 bed condos that sell in the 100Ks, 2-beds sell btwn 100K-450K, 3 & 4 beds btwn  175K-750 but mostly units sell below 400K.
* Access to a good amount of park space including many small-medium parks spread throughout and the massive Washington Park on the southern border and the NE section has access to the expansive lakefront park.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Ok economic and diverse diversity. Large Black population at about 85% and most households earn less than 40K.
* Crime is still an issue but much better than it used to be. Lots of vacant lots throughout the neighborhood but most are well trimmed. Few vacant residential buildings but still a decent amount of vacant commercial remains.
* Good # of walkable schools but only a handful have at least decent ratings.
* In fill is a mix bag of quality residential in-fill, bland res, infill and autocentric commercial. Newer projects are getting better.
* Fair cultural amenities includes some restaurants, bars & cafes, the Harold Washington Arts Center, a couple small museums.
* Okay retail amenities including a small format Walmart, a couple supermarkets, a couple pharmacies, several boutiques & clothing stores especially 47th st, a couple banks, a local public library & post office, plenty of churches and a major hospital.
* Urban massing isn’t great as much of the historic fabric has been erased especially along the biz districts (i.e. 47th, 43rd, Cottage Grove, and Pershing.
* Lots of dead spots in the neighborhood.

Kenwood- A previously redlined community in Chicago’s Southside and now a success story for building African American generational wealth

Kenwood was once one of Chicago’s most affluent neighborhoods, and  still contains some of the largest single-family homes in the city. Kenwood was originally settled in the 1850s by wealthy Chicagoans seeking respite from the City. The first of these residents was John A. Kennicott, who built his home near the Illinois Central Railroad at 48th Street. He named his home Kenwood after his ancestral land in Scotland. Kenwood continued to prosper through the 1880s and 1890s, and new concentrations of large single-family homes began to emerge along Drexel Boulevard. By the early 1930s signs of deterioration emerged within the community, as the population exploded but with many of the older homes being converted in rooming houses and subdivided into apartments. Sadly with a large influx of African American’s in the neighborhood, White flight took root in the 60s and 70s and Kenwood’s population plummeted from 41K in 1950s to 21k in 1980. This was also the period when Kenwood’s commercial districts along 43 and 47 streets fell into disrepair and the neighborhood lost a significant amount of its retail and cultural amenities from which it still has not recovered.

Thankfully a large number of middle class homeowners (mostly African American) stuck it out in Kenwood and helped stabilize many gorgeous historic streets in the neighborhood. By the late 70s historic districts were created and by the late 90s the population stabilized. By 2000 in-fill construction began in earnest as the City pushed for the redevelopment of many vacant lots. Kenwood is now an economically diverse neighborhood and what I would consider a success story for a previously redlined African American community. There is now a strong Black middle class here and many of them own their homes and are building generational wealth. The next step for Kenwood is to reconstruct its blighted commercial districts along 43rd & 47th streets so this can truly become a mixed-use walkable community more akin to nearby Hyde Park. Even without strong retail amenities Kenwood is a solid urban neighborhood thanks to its great public transit access, wonderful park amenities, decent walkable schools, diverse and often affordable housing stock, gorgeous historic architecture, and comfortable tree lined streets.

Click here to view my Kenwood album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Excellent urban density.
* Great public transit access and easy access to Dwtn as its only a 15-20 minute train ride.
* Decent bike amenities with two main north-south bike routes and several dedicated bike stations.
* Great sidewalk and ADA infrastructure overall.
* Good diversity overall, especially economic.
* Good number of walkable schools but with mixed ratings.
* Good diversity of for sale options with lots of affordable options. Some 1-beds selling btwn 75K-300K, 2-beds generally sell btwn 100K-350K with some more expensive luxury product. 3 & 4 beds sell btwn 200K and 1 M.
* Good rental supply ranging from moderate to pricy. 1-beds lease in the 1Ks, 2-beds 1.5K-2K. 3-beds btwn the high 1Ks-3Ks. Limited 4 bed rentals.
* Great park amenities including the expansive lakefront parks, several small-medium parks spread through the neighborhood, and the lengthy  Drexel Blvd. Promenade running along the western border.
* Solid tree canopy.
* Generally solid architecture including some very excellent brownstones and 1920s apts bldgs that have been preserved. Wide range of in-fill including some crummy autocentric strip malls, early residential infill attempts and better more recent infill.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Generally a safe neighborhood but still vestiges of blight and disinvestment that used to blight the neighborhood. Higher crime average than North Chicago neighborhoods.
* Ok cultural amenities: some restaurants, bars, & cafes, an art gallery, local ballet school, a local community theater, and the Hyde Park Arts Center. Convenient access to the many cultural assets in Hyde Park to the south.
* Decent retail amenities including a right sized Walmart, Whole foods, drug store, a couple banks, a Marshall’s & Ross’s, a couple boutiques, plenty of salons/barbers, some gyms, a local post office and library. Many retail amenities nearby in Hyde Park as well.
* Much of the historic commercial fabric has been wiped away along 47th, 43rd but good intact nodes at 47th & Drexel Blvd and Hyde Park & Lake Park Ave.
* Due to a lack of retail amenities pedestrian activity is pretty underwhelming but some activity thanks to Kenwood’s density.
* Kenwood still struggles with a historic negative image and bias, but it seems to be improving as the White population has increased in recent decades.

Hyde Park- One of Chicago’s most diverse neighborhoods and home to the University of Chicago

In this evaluation I also include East Hyde Park, which is often considered a subdistrict of Hyde Park.

Hyde Park traces its white settlement originals to 1853 when Paul Cornell, a real estate speculator, purchased 300 acres between 51st and 55th sts along the shore of Lake Michigan. When a railroad stop opened a couple years later, Hyde Park quickly became a suburban retreat for affluent Chicagoans. In 1861, Hyde Park was incorporated as an independent township and remained independent until its annexation into the City in 1889. Soon afterwards the University of Chicago was founded and the neighborhood hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition. The World’s Columbian Exposition brought fame to the neighborhood, which triggered a flood of new residents and transformed the neighborhood into an urban area. The only major structure from the fair still standing today is Charles Atwood’s Palace of Fine Arts, now the Museum of Science and Industry. In the early decades of the twentieth century, many upscale hotels and apartments were constructed, further densifying the neighborhood. The neighborhood reached its peak at 55K residents in 1950. At that time African Americans also began to move here, helping set up a very racially diverse neighborhood. But Hyde Park experienced its own disinvestment in the 1950s and 1960s. Fortunately, this decline did not hit as hard as other nearby Southside Chicago neighborhoods thanks to the University of Chicago’s presence and active involvement in a somewhat controversial urban renewal effort. While the effort demolished many blocks of dilapidated housing for bland yet urban 1960s townhouses, and led to a large amount of Black displacement, it significantly diversified incomes in Hyde Park and stabilized the neighborhood.

Currently Hyde Park’s racial make up is around 45% White, 25% Black, 12% Asian, and 9% Hispanic.  Residents south of 55th Street are mostly White & Asian, and north of 55th are mostly Black and Hispanic. Hyde Park is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Chicago due to its great economic & racial diversity, but also because of its excellent urban form & walkability, park and cultural amenities, great tree canopy, and diverse housing options and prices. For Hyde Park to become an even better neighborhood it needs better schools, a local public library, and some quality urban in-fill in spots.

Click here to view my Hyde Park Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Excellent ADA and sidewalk infrastructure.
* High density at just over 20K per sq mile.
* Solid public transit and access to Dwtn but many jobs existing in Hyde Park with the University of Chicago and Medical Center within its bounds which includes about 15K students and 15K employees.
* Good overall connectivity but also a decent number of smaller dead-end streets.
* Good bike lanes with one cutting through the heart of Hyde Park and two along the edges in the parks. Excellent bike rental coverage.
* Decent generational diversity esp. considering the large college population.
* Near perfect racial and economic diversity.
* Spectacular parks and recreational amenities. Not only do you have the expansive Washington Park, Jackson Park (site of 1893 Exhibition), Midway Plaisance,  lakefront parks with its long beaches, but also many small-medium sized parks spread throughout the neighborhood. It doesn’t get much better than this!
*Great tree canopy. So impressed how this level of density can still support so many trees.
* Great # and diversity of rental options . Studios lease btwn $600-2K, 1-beds 1K-mid 2Ks, 2-beds mid 1Ks-3K, 3-beds btwn mid 1Ks to 4K, & 4-beds btwn 2K-4K. Good # of affordable.
* Similar situation with for sale hsg. Some studios that sell around 100K. 1-beds sell btwn 100K-300K, 2-beds btwn 150K-700 but most product sells around 250K, 3 & 4 beds sell btwn 175K-1 M, some larger homes sell for more.
* Excellent cultural amenities including many food & bev biz, several live music venues, a indie theater, an omnimax theater, the Hyde Park Arts Center, a performing arts center, excellent local & regional museums, historic homes, and University of Chicago cultural amenities.
* Great retail amenities also include several supermarkets, hardware store, grocerias & drug stores, a target, home depot, Marshalls, many boutiques & clothing/shoe stores, tons of banks, salons, gyms, & dessert joints, tons of creative stores, several bookstores, post offices, and hospitals.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Good # of walkable schools but the vast majority are rated poor to mediocre.
* Local library located a couple blocks north of Hyde Park. Churches are a bit limited here.
* Some crime here but overall pretty safe. Probably less safe than the North Chicago neighborhoods.
* Generally a solid urban massing but some auto centric spots and poorly laid out 60s & 70s developments that break up connectivity.

Downtown Madison, WI

Madison’s Downtown comprises the State Capitol and the oldest residential neighborhoods of Madison. Collectively Downtown is also referred to as the Capitol Neighborhoods as it is in reality more of a quilt of several smaller districts that independently grew into a larger Downtown neighborhood. I expand the Capitol Neighborhoods District a bit for this evaluation to include almost everything between Blair and Park Avenue.  In the SE quadrant is the First Settlement, the oldest part of Madison first settled in 1837. The western half is call Miffland & Bassett, an area famous for its counter-cultural revolution in the 60s & 70s now an interesting mixed-use district. Abutting the University and along Lake Mendota is the State-Langdon District, home to many great historic mansions and many early 20th revival bldgs now owned by many fraternities & sororities. In the Northeast quadrant is the Mansion Hill District, which contains some wonderfully preserved mid-late 19th century housing but also feeds right to the Capitol Building.

Downtown Madison is perhaps the best mid-sized Downtown in American. This is mostly thanks to its great density, and mixed-use character that feeds seamlessly into the historic part of the University of Wisconsin via State Street, a vibrant pedestrian mall converted in 1974. The Dwtn is also designed with an elevated State House forming its heart with diagonal streets coming off its corners and cutting through Dwtn. Dwtn’s fabric is also unhindered by any freeways helping it to preserve most of its urban fabric and contains great retail, cultural, and recreational amenities. Dwtn  boasts a great array of housing diversity (esp. rental) while still being a major employment center. Some small areas that Downtown could improve upon include housing more walkable schools, which could attract more families. There are also some autocentric stretches/surface lots along Washington Blvd and the First Settlement subdistrict that could use better infill. These areas are also a bit sparse with retail amenities.

Click to view my Downtown album, my State-Langdon album and my Mansion Hill album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* This is one of the most dense and populated Downtown’s in America( only New York and Chicago have more dense Downtowns). Very impressive especially for a City of Madison’s size. It is twice as dense as the second most dense mid-sized metro (Lancaster).
* Thanks to several leafy residential pockets Downtown Madison has solid tree canopy for a Downtown.
* Madison has good public transit throughout Dwtn and the inner city neighborhood and decent access to the new parts of the City. Ok to poor service in the suburbs.
* Madison has no interstate highways that penetrated Dwtn and the inner City. Instead one must exist I-90 and I-94 and drive in for 15 minutes on the east side or take route 14-18 that loop south  of the Downtown. This is certainly the ideal in my opinion as it provides decent auto access to Dwtn but keeps it in tact.
* Well gridded Dwtn with the addition of 4 diagonals radiating from the capitol bldgs. Dwtn does well at avoiding wide streets but its maze of one-way streets can be rather confusing.
* Excellent bike infrastructure including great bike lane connectivity throughout most of the City and into the suburbs and dedicated bike stations within almost all of the pre WWII neighborhoods.
* Excellent racial and economic diversity from residents living here.
* Lots of rental supply and diversity. Tons of studios and 1-beds that lease btwn $800-2K, 2-beds lease btwn the low 1Ks-low 2Ks, lots of 3-beds leasing btwn the low 1Ks to mid 2Ks and even some 4 beds btwn the mid 1Ks to 4K. There also appears to be a fair amount of dedicated affordable hsg dwtn.
* Decent amount and diversity of for-sale housing too with 1-bed condos selling btwn 200K-500K, 2-beds sell btwn 300K-1M, and a good number of 3 & 4 beds for a dwtn selling btwn 400K- the low 1Ms.
* Solid park amenities including lots of lake front parks, several attractive plazas throughout dwtn, Alumni Park and Library mall near Dwtn, the UW recreational center, and the well activated Capitol Square, a strong civic heart.
* Excellent cultural amenities including tons of food beverage bizs, good # of art galleries, several live music venues, theaters, and night clubs, a indie theater, several quality museums, and all the University of Wisc. Cultural amenities.. For regional amenities the City has a decent convention center, a couple sports arenas (UW).
* Tons of government jobs dwtn with both city and state offices concentrated here. About 50K jobs in Dwtn Madison.
* Great retail amenities including a target, a couple supermarkets, a DGX, a couple drug stores, plenty of banks, plenty of clothing stores gift shops, and home good stores, a bookstore, a hardware store, tons of dessert joint & Gyms, Dwtn Library & post office.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Generational diversity is rather poor due to the overwhelming college age/young adults living in the Capitol Neighborhoods District.
* Only one walkable elementary school within the Dwtn area. A couple good schools in neighboring districts but not really walkable to Dwtn.
* Retail amenities are a bit light in the First Settlement and Mansion Hill Districts.
* As nothing is taller than the State Capital building not a striking skyline in Madison, although I respect the City’s decision to do this. I actually don’t mind the mid-rise skyline this has created allowing the capital building to shine.
* Generally excellent form throughout Madison but a good amount of autocentric uses along Washington Avenue and some surface parking lots in the First Settlement area. Not surprisingly this is also where the dead spots are Dwtn.

Madison’s Regent Neighborhood- A leafy early 20th century district surrounded by the University of Wisconsin and Wingra Park



Regent (aka University Heights) is one of Madison’s first suburbs, platted in 1893. Located close to the University, its curvilinear streets and beautiful vistas attracted many university families. It also contains homes produced by several famous architectures (i.e.  Keck and Keck, George W. Maher, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright). Regent’s retail and cultural amenities are mainly contained to the small commercial node at University and Highland Avenues. A good amount of retail and cultural amenities are located in the University of Wisconsin, which surrounds Regent to the North and East, and the Wingra Park neighborhood to the south. The western side of Regent includes a large cemetery and several newer neighborhoods that contain great park amenities.

The Regent neighborhood also does well with high density, good public transit access, well ranked public high school and elementary school, a couple dedicated bike lanes, a good # of smaller rentals, great tree canopy, and a very safe community. For Regent to become a great urban neighborhood it needs more retail and cultural amenities within its borders, more affordable for-sale options, better park amenities, and improved urban massing along University Ave,

Click here to view my Regent Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Solid urban density,
* Quality access to public transit
* Overall good ADA and sidewalk infrastructure but some dated ADA curb cuts.
* Good connectivity but some pretty curvilinear streets.
* Good bike infrastructure with dedicated bike lanes running the length of the northern and southern borders. A couple dedicated bike stations as well.
* Great generational diversity with a good mix of kids, students, professors.
* Decent walkable schools with a quality public high school and elementary school located within the neighborhood.
* Good # of rental options. 1-beds range anywhere in the 1Ks, 2-beds btwn 1.5K-2.5K, 3-beds btwn 1.5K to the high 2Ks.
* Solid tree canopy.
* Attractive 1910s-1930s single family homes.
* Very safe community overall.
* Okay cultural amenities within Regent including several restaurants, a couple of bars & cafes, a couple art galleries concentrated mostly at the University and Highland intersections. As Regent is surrounded by the UW to the North and East lots of museums and Cineplex, and performing are nearby. To the south are more cultural and retail amenities in the Wingra Park and Greenbush business districts.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Residents here are generally very well off but the student population does add some economic diversity.
* Not a ton of for sale housing diversity. Most for sale housing product is pretty expensive here. A handful of 1-bed condos that sell btwn 200K-400K,  Some 2-bed selling btwn 275K-550K, 3 & 4 beds sell btwn 375K-1 M
* Park and recreational space are a bit limited within Regent to a couple pocket parks and 2 medium sized recreational parks next to the High School and Middle Schools. While not necessarily walkable to most residents there are two large parks west of the Regent neighborhood and a couple pool.
* Retail amenities are pretty limited within the Regent neighborhood but include a supermarket, a couple gift shops & banks, some dessert joints, an antique store, a couple salons, and a couple churches. Decent # of retail amenities in the Wingra Park commercial districts several blocks south.
* Urban massing and streetscaping along University is a mixed bag of historic bldgs, mid-century more autocentric structures, and more urban modern mixed-use bldgs.

Dudgeon-Monroe: One of Madison’s Trendiest Urban Districts

Dudgeon-Monroe shares the active Monroe business district with adjacent Wingra Park but also picks up Monroe further westward away from Downtown. Past Edgewood College Monroe becomes more mixed-use but still holds a couple solid business nodes. From an urban perspective Dudgeon-Monroe also excels at having great access to park amenities, comfortable 1910s-1940s housing, convenient access to Dwtn and the University, excellent tree canopy, a high level of safety, and quality urban massing running up and down Monroe Street.

For Dudgeon-Monroe to become a great urban district it needs more density, sidewalk infrastructure in the southern 1/3 of the neighborhood, better public transit access, more economic and racial diversity, more walkable schools, and much better housing diversity as for sale housing is expensive here and there are few apartments especially 1-bedrooms and studios.

Click here to view my Dudgeon-Monroe album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Great ADA infrastructure and sidewalks.
* An excellent recreational trail runs the northern edge of the neighborhood along with a couple other shorter  bike lanes. A couple dedicated bike stations as well.
* Great generational diversity with a good mix of kids, students, professors.
* Excellent tree canopy throughout most of the district.
* Great park amenities with expansive and varied lakefront acreage covering the entire length of the district. Attractive quad space at Edgewood College.
* Very safe community.
* Good cultural amenities including plenty of restaurants & bars, several cafes, several art galleries including a local neighborhood art gallery, a couple community theaters, a couple breweries, some good cultural amenities at the nearby Edgewood College.
* Good retail amenities as well including a Trader Joe’s, a pharmacy, a couple banks, a wine store, a bookstore, lots of gift stores/boutiques and creative stores, a several dessert joints, a couple gyms, a public library, several dessert joints, plenty of gyms, and a couple churches.
* Solid historic and modern architecture.
* Generally good urban massing but some auto centric wholes the further away from Dwtn you go along Monroe St.
* One of Madison’s trendier neighborhoods

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* So so density.
* The southern 1/3 of the district has no sidewalks. Newer 40 & 50s development here.
* Some more curvilinear streets in parts of the district but connectivity is still retained throughout.
* Public transit is so so here.
* Pretty poor economic and racial diversity.
* No schools within Wingra Park but a quality public high school and elementary schools on the northern edge of the district in adjacent Regent neighborhood.
* Rentals are very limited but especially 1-beds. Some 2-beds available that lease around 2K.
* Not a ton of for sale housing diversity. Everything is pretty expensive here. A handful of 1-bed condos that sell btwn 300K-600K,  Some 2-bed selling btwn 325K-650K, 3 & 4 beds sell btwn 375K-885K

Wingra Park- A highly Intellectual/Artistic Urban Community located between Edgewood College and University of Wisconsin

Wingra Park (aka Vilas) is a very attractive turn of the 20th century district lined with gorgeous historic homes, an intact streetcar business district running down Monroe Ave and wonderful park and lake front access. It also is located between Edgewood College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison creating a very intellectual artistic community vibe.

The Monroe street business district provides Wingra Park with solid retail and cultural amenities, and good walkability. Public Transit and bike infrastructure could be better but sufficient enough to provide a diversity of modal options. Wingra Park also have great street connectivity, convenient access to Dwtn, high levels of safety, and a great tree canopy. Major areas for improvement from an urban perspective include more walkable schools, better racial diversity, more 1-bedroom apartment options, and improved urban in-fill along Regent Street.

Click here to view my Wingra Park Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Good urban density.
* Generally very good ADA and sidewalk infrastructure but some missing sidewalks and older ADA sidewalks near Vilas Park.
* Very good access to Downtown.
* Great street connectivity.
* Decent economic and generational diversity.
* Great tree canopy in Wingra Park.
* Wonderful array of historic homes and mansions throughout Wingra Park.
* Solid urban in-fill and urban form along Monroe St. Great streetscaping as well.
* Solid park amenities with the expansive Lakefront Vilas Park side along its southern park and the hilltop park of Bear Mound Park.
* Solid retail amenities including a Trader Joe’s, a pharmacy, a couple banks, a wine store, a bookstore, a couple clothing stores, tons of gift stores and creative stores, a several dessert joints, a couple gyms, a public library
* Good cultural amenities as well including several restaurants & bars, a couple cafes & breweries, a couple art galleries, a neighborhoods arts gallery, a couple local theaters, and some good cultural amenities at nearby Edgewood College.
* Very safe community.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Some bike infrastructure including a couple dedicated bike stations and a recreational bike trail running along the neighborhood’s northern border.
* Racial diversity is very limited. Over 90% Caucasian.
* No schools within Wingra Park but a quality public high school and elementary schools in the adjacent Regent neighborhood.
* No a ton of for sale housing diversity. Everything is pretty expensive here. Some 2-bed selling btwn 425K-525, 3 & 4 beds sell btwn 400K- 1 M.
* Rentals are pretty limited esp. 1-bedrooms. A couple 1-beds lease around 1.5K, Some more 2-bed options also leasing in the mid 1Ks.
* Semi-auto centric biz district along Regent St.
* Missing neighborhood amenities include a lack of churches, doctor offices, a post office, and a hardware store.

Greenbush- A comfortable early 20th Century Madison neighborhood sandwiched between two lakes

Greenbush takes its name from the Historic Greenbush Addition, which served as the first home of many Italian and Eastern European immigrants.  The neighborhood offers a wide variety of homes, from efficiency apartments to new condominiums to attractive historic homes from the early 20th century.  It also has a convenient location only 1.5 miles from Downtown and the University of Wisconsin, has good urban density, solid public transit access, wonderful park amenities, and convenient access to 3 hospitals.

To become a great urban district Greenbush needs to built out its semi-auto centric commercial districts along Regent St. and Park St with quality urban mixed-use in-fill. This would create a more cohesive urban biz district and hopefully also add much needed cultural and retail amenities. Greenbush also lacks walkable schools, 1-bedroom apartments, and limited bike infrastructure.

Click here to view my Greenbush album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Solid density
* Very convenient to Dwtn across all modes. Decent public transit access.
* Overall a very connected grid system.
* Good economic diversity with the mix of professionals and students living in the neighborhood.
* Decent for sale diversity but on the expensive side. Some 1-bed condos selling in the 200Ks. 2-beds sell anywhere btwn 300K-500K. 3&4 beds sell btwn 350K-700K.
* Great park access with Wingra Lake Park, Villas Park, and Brittangam Park bordering the neighborhood. Greenbush also has the Edward Klief Park with a playground and ballfields.
* Very safe community overall.
* Solid tree canopy.
* Attractive historic housing and decent modern in-fill. Some good mixed-use in-fill but also a good about a auto centric crude.
* Greenbush is a generally in demand neighborhood with a positive image.
* Decent cultural amenities including  the Madison Zoo, the UW Arboretum, a beach, a handful of restaurants, a couple cafes & breweries, and plenty of bars, a couple art galleries and a few live music venues. Decent access, however, to the cultural amenities in Dwtn and the University of Wisconsin.

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Sidewalk infrastructure is good. Modern ADA curbs are mostly limited to the biz districts (Regent and Park) and largely missing on the residential streets.
* So so bike infrastructure with one dedicated bike lane on the eastern edge and one bike station.
* So so diversity and poor generational diversity thanks to the large student population living here.
* No schools within the Greenbush, a couple good options in adjacent neighborhoods that I would consider somewhat walkable.
* Limited studio and 1-bedroom rental options. Some 2-beds leasing in the 1Ks and a good # of 3-beds available leasing around 2K.
* Retail amenities are pretty limited. But they are some amenities including a couple banks, three major hospitals, a book store, a large bike shop, a couple floral shops, a couple salons & banks, a shoe store, an Asian grocerias.
* Urban massing is a mixed-bag. Decent streetscaping however.