An Essex Broker's Guide to Oak Lawn
January 12, 2021

Welcome to “An Essex Broker’s Guide To,” a monthly series where Essex Realty Group, Inc. brokers share their expertise about the communities they focus on as multifamily real estate brokers. This month Director Derek Kaptanoglu shares his guide to Oak Lawn, a popular Southwest Chicago Suburb.

Derek joined Essex Realty Group, Inc. as an associate in 2019 and concentrates on guiding investors through the process of buying and selling suburban multifamily and mixed-use assets across the Chicagoland area. Derek works directly with clients assisting at every level of the transaction including asset valuation, market research, and deal management.

Prior to joining Essex, Derek worked in office and retail leasing throughout the San Francisco Bay Area where he successfully assisted numerous local, national, and multi-national clients with their commercial real estate lease obligations.

Derek attended the University of Colorado, Boulder where he received his B.A. in Political Science. Derek is a member of the National Association of Realtors, Commercial Brokers Association, John O. Moseley Leadership School, and is a fundraising volunteer for Arrive Kenya.

Q: What makes Oak Lawn an ideal suburban city to invest in?

Derek: Oak Lawn’s size and proximity to Chicago make it one of the most ideal suburban cities to invest in. Located approximately 12 miles southwest of Chicago, Oak Lawn encompasses just over 8.5 square miles and is bordered by Burbank to the north, Alsip to the south, Chicago Ridge to the west, and Evergreen Park to the east.

Oak Lawn also has a stable local workforce. For example, the suburb is home to Advocate Christ Medical Center, one of the top 10 largest hospitals in Illinois with over 1,500 affiliated physicians and 788-beds. The hospital provides emergency care for more than 105,000 patient visits annually and has one of the busiest Level I trauma centers in Illinois. For the residents that work in downtown Chicago, the Oak Lawn Metra Station provides quick and easy commutes via the SouthWest Service line.

Multifamily properties in Oak Lawn do not transact very often, but when they do investors can feel confident in a quality opportunity. Over the last 2-years, my team here at Essex has facilitated the sale of the only three multifamily properties to trade over $1,000,000. We conducted an extensive marketing campaign for each new listing which resulted in over 20 property tours for each property and multiple offers to purchase these Oak Lawn apartment buildings. In this example, the properties featured vintage finishes creating a value-add opportunity for the investors.

Q: What is the most underrated thing about Oak Lawn?

Derek: The 95th and Pulaski corridor of Oak Lawn. This spot offers residents a great mix of shopping and quick-service eateries like Chicago’s famous Portillo’s Hot Dogs. Plus, the new development Oak Lawn Commons (OLC), is located along this highly trafficked corridor. OLC is currently under construction, but when complete it will offer residents 140,000 SF of beautiful retail space. Today, OLC has already brought in a local grocer and national chain Panera Bread. Additionally, Advocate Christ Medical Center is just one half-mile down the road which makes these retail stores ideal shopping locations for the hospital’s employees and visitors. You would be surprised at how busy this corridor gets around lunchtime on a weekday!

Q: What surprised you most about Oak Lawn and the Chicagoland area having come from the San Francisco market?

Derek: I was most surprised by the abundance of excellent public transportation offered throughout the Chicagoland area compared to the Bay Area. In the Bay Area, to get anywhere you need to own a car or to at least Uber, as public transportation is limited, expensive, and not easily accessible. I am still really impressed with how easily you can take public transportation throughout downtown and to various suburban cities outside of Chicago. It is truly one of the most accessible metropolitan areas I have ever lived in. And luckily for those that love to walk, Chicago is much flatter than the Bay Area!


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

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