An Essex Broker's Guide to Ukrainian Village
October 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 Abe Eilian shares his guide to Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood.

Abe Eilian joined Essex Realty Group, Inc. in the spring of 2011, concentrating primarily on asset valuation, market research and transaction analysis. Currently, Abe focuses on business development and assisting clients in the acquisition and disposition of investment real estate throughout the greater Chicago metropolitan area. To date, Abe has been involved in the sale of over $200 million in investment real estate. In 2018, RE Journals recognized Abe Eilian as a CRE Future Leader.

Prior to joining Essex, Abe worked for six years in the insurance specialty services industry, providing surety companies with real estate market analyses. Abe received his B.A. degree in finance from Illinois State University.

Q: What is your favorite thing about Ukrainian Village?

Abe: There are so many things I love about Ukrainian Village, but one of my favorite things to do is grab a bite to eat with friends on Division Street when it’s nice out. Those that haven’t been there are often surprised and feel as though they’ve stumbled upon a hidden gem. Division Street, between Ashland and Leavitt, is unique for having deep building setback requirements, which in turn create extra wide sidewalks, perfect for restaurant patios and beer gardens. In the summer, this part of Division looks like a never-ending beer garden as far as the eye can see!

In 2013, I purchased a multifamily property in Ukrainian Village. The reason I invested in Ukrainian Village was because I was searching for a neighborhood that was centrally located, relatively affordable, and most importantly, an area that I could be excited to live in myself, as I was planning to live in one of the units. At the time, I had been working as an analyst at Essex for a few years and was therefore exposed to many of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods, so when I settled on Ukrainian Village I was confident that it satisfied all three of my goals; the neighborhood is centrally located and is adjacent to other great neighborhoods including Wicker Park, West Loop, Bucktown, Logan Square, and River West; the area is more affordable than some of the more traditional Chicago neighborhoods like Lincoln Park and Lakeview; and lastly, in my opinion, Division Street is among the top four best restaurant and nightlife strips in Chicago (up there with Wells Street in Old Town, Randolph Street in the West Loop and Southport Avenue in Lakeview). It brings in locals and visitors alike to experience unique restaurants and a great atmosphere.

Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Ukrainian Village?

Abe: There is a little bakery and coffee shop on Division called Letizia’s Natural Bakery. Letizia’s has outdoor patio seating in front like many shops on Division, but also has a large hidden patio in the rear that I don’t think many people know about. I love heading to Letizia’s for lunch because it has some of the best pastries and paninis in the city and the back patio is nice and quiet. Ukrainian Village has the perfect mix of new restaurants and local staples, and not many chain restaurants.

A few of my other favorite spots to dine include Mirai Sushi, a delicious sushi restaurant with a smaller menu, but some of the freshest fish I have had in the area; and Janik’s Café on Division, next to Fatpour. Janik’s is a great breakfast restaurant with Mexican-inspired dishes plus all the breakfast classics.

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

Abe: If I had one hour to spend in Ukrainian Village I would head to Division Street with a group of friends and pick a sidewalk beer garden to hang out in. There are so many great patios to choose from and they all offer great food, drinks, and people watching.

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

Abe:

1. Great renters. I have noticed there seems to be a traditional path renters take when moving throughout Chicago. College graduates move to Chicago for new jobs and find apartments in what I consider the gateway neighborhoods – Old Town, Lincoln Park and Lakeview. These are those established neighborhoods that everyone hears about. Once living in the city, over time they explore and discover new fun and trendy neighborhoods and eventually decide to expand their horizons. These are some of the renters that you will find in Ukrainian Village. Late 20s renters who know the city well and are often a little more established in their careers.

2. Centrally located. Ukrainian Village is situated in an excellent and advantageous location. As mentioned, the neighborhood is surrounded by many popular neighborhoods with great culture, but it also provides easy access to strong job driver neighborhood, such as the West Loop, Fulton River, River North and the Loop. Chicago’s West Loop has more recently become a hotspot for global companies to situate their Midwest headquarters. Google, Twitter, McDonald’s and LinkedIn all have decided to make the West Loop their Chicago home, bringing a multitude of well-paying jobs to the area. Ukrainian Village is just two miles from these offices and is a popular place for their employees to rent apartments.

3. Great returns. Investors can achieve higher returns for a similar product type when compared to investment properties in stereotypical A+ Chicago locations like Lakeview and Lincoln Park. I have recently been marketing a 14-unit in the neighborhood and toured over 20 investors through the property within the first two weeks of marketing. This type of activity is an indicator that investors are drawn to the higher returns Ukrainian Village investment properties are offering.

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

Abe: When speaking with investors that are unfamiliar with Ukrainian Village, I have noticed they often underestimate the market rents that can be achieved in the neighborhood. Many investors overlook the area and focus on neighborhoods they may have heard more about, such as Wicker Park and Logan Square. Some investors don’t yet realize that rents are approaching Lincoln Park rental rates in Ukrainian Village. As a neighborhood, Ukrainian Village also offers that classic “Chicago” feeling with mature tree-lined streets filled with beautiful vintage properties featuring classic Chicago architecture.


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