An Essex Broker's Guide to Lakeview
September 09, 2020

Welcome to “An Essex Broker’s Guide To,” a monthly series where Essex Realty Group, Inc. brokers share their expertise about the neighborhoods they focus on. This month Director Clay Maxfield shares his guide to Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.

Clay Maxfield joined Essex Realty Group in 2014 and focuses on the sale of multi-family and mixed-use investment real estate throughout Chicago. Clay has been involved in the sale of over $200 million of investment property, including approximately 1,400 apartment units. A native of Chicago's northside, Clay knows the City and greater suburban areas well.

Clay graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington with a Bachelor of Arts degree. While at Indiana University, Clay founded and operated a successful apartment rental and property management business that included 250 beds of student housing throughout the Bloomington area.

Q: What is your favorite thing about Lakeview?

Clay: My favorite thing about Lakeview is the proximity to the lakefront. I grew up in Lakeview and went to high school in Lincoln Park. Today I live in Lakeview, east of Broadway, because my goal was to buy a condo as close to Lake Michigan as possible in Lakeview. The lakefront has so much to offer! My wife and I try to go for a walk through the park everyday, and we are so grateful to have access to so much green space, especially now during a global pandemic. Lakeview and Lincoln Park go hand in hand, so I will add my favorite thing about Lincoln Park is the Zoo. I actually “adopted” a polar bear named Max who lives at the zoo for my nephew as a present, and next year I plan to adopt a giraffe. It is so unique to have a free park in the middle of the city. During the winter, I love to walk through Zoo Lights with my family. Since you can’t park or drive in Lincoln Park or Lakeview during the nights of the Zoo Lights we will walk over from my place. I love passing by and admiring all the beautiful architecture from the early 1900s all lit up at night.

Something else I love about Lakeview, as a resident, is the strong sense of community I feel. It feels like a small town sometimes. I try to eat at the local restaurants in Lakeview as often as possible and enjoy getting to know all the restaurant employees. I think it is fun building those relationships. When you go to the same places, you see the same faces. I am a creature of habit I guess! I really felt the sense of community a few weeks ago too after that storm in early August. Everyone was helping to clear the roads and clear the fallen trees, it was so great to see everyone working together and offering help.

Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Lakeview?

Clay: There is this great strip of restaurants on Broadway between Barry and Belmont, and right smack in the middle is this Italian spot called Ceres’ Table. I think Chicago is sleeping on this restaurant because it is so delicious, but you never really hear about it. The restaurant has a great vibe, large wine list, and delicious wood-fired pizza. I live close by, so my wife and I enjoy walking over to sit at the bar. This strip of restaurants on Broadway is actually where the city has been hosting “Dine Out on Broadway” where the restaurants are able to set up outdoor seating in the street. Due to COVID I have been trying hard to make it a point to stay local, which means I have mainly been shopping and eating at the restaurants in Lakeview and close to home. These local non-chain restaurants that populate the streets of Lakeview are part of what make this neighborhood such a great place to live, so that is why I hope to help keep them all in business. Every meal helps!

Q: If you had one hour to spend in Lakeview, what would you do?

Clay: If you had one hour to spend in Lakeview, I would suggest you prepare by wearing walking shoes! I would recommend you start at the Stan’s Donuts on the corner of Clark and Diversey, and pick up a donut or two, and a great cup of coffee to-go. From there I would walk east along Diversey until you hit the lakefront path. From here you can either head north along the path to Belmont Harbor or head south to the Lincoln Park Zoo – you can’t go wrong!

Walking around Belmont Harbor has always been therapeutic for me. I grew up in the area and I would spend a lot of time on the harbor with my dad fishing. This is where I learned to fish. In the summer you can catch perch and bass, and in the fall or spring you can catch Coho salmon. This area is so beautiful and lively, with views of the city skyline and lake, and people everywhere – biking, fishing, running, picnicking, sailing, etc. In fact, I love this area so much it is where I proposed to my now wife, Miranda!

Q: Give me three reasons why I should invest in Lakeview?

Clay: #1. It is a cliché in real estate for a reason – location, location, location! In general I think people forget how residential Lakeview really is as a city neighborhood. Walking through the streets gives you a real residential feeling, and the fact that you can get that sense and be within just 10 minutes from Chicago’s core central district is a huge perk.

#2. Flight to quality. I believe Lakeview is currently benefiting from a term called, “flight to quality,” which means that during uncertain times the renovation projects in the fringe neighborhoods lose their hipster luster and the core quality assets in core quality neighborhoods become more desirable. We saw this during the 2008 recession, and the same could be said now as we move through this current pandemic. In general, investors that have invested in high appreciation markets have seen tenant retainment and strong collections, which is possibly due to the quality of neighborhood location.

#3. Development. When people think of Chicago neighborhoods that have changed over time, I don’t think Lakeview would be on the top of the list. However, I would argue that Lakeview might be the most changed, especially in the last couple years due to the billions of dollars recently invested in Wrigleyville. This amount of money is a good sign that investors believe in the area and that local leaders are helping the neighborhood invest back into itself. When you see new developments in a neighborhood, I believe it encourages more local business owners to set up shop, which is usually a good thing.

Last summer another broker at Essex brought to market 3507 N. Wilton Ave. a center entrance eight-flat situated on a double lot just one block from Wrigley Field. I brought a client through the property, and initially he was hesitant and not very impressed with Wrigleyville, but I had learned during our conversation that he really hadn’t walked through the neighborhood in a while. After we toured Wilton, we walked over to the new Big Star on Clark and Patterson, directly across the street from the stadium and the new Gallagher Way park area. The walk over from Wilton to Big Star, along Addison and Clark, was all it took to pique his interest in the area. After lunch, my client put in an offer and the transaction closed two weeks later. I am so happy he was able to land that deal!

Q: What do you think is the most underrated thing about Lakeview?

Clay: Well, Lakeview is a popular neighborhood for a reason so it’s hard to pick something underrated about the neighborhood. I would probably say location though. The proximity to Lake Michigan, the lakefront path, downtown Chicago, Lincoln Park Zoo and Wrigley Field really can’t be beat. Plus, Lake Shore Drive is such a great thoroughfare it makes it really easy to get around as a resident of the neighborhood.

Since 1990, Essex Realty Group, Inc. has served Chicago's investment real estate market as a top multifamily brokerage firm. Contact us today to learn more about our recent multifamily and mixed-use property sales.

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