River West & Fulton River District
A Bustling Transition Between Downtown
and the Near Northwest Side
If you are buying a house in Chicago and considering River West or the Fulton River District, use this neighborhood real estate guide for an insider's take before you purchase a home. Chicago's River West and Fulton River District is a hot area with condos for sale and duplex homes for sale.
Signs of a city at work: freight and commuter trains crisscrossing the neighborhood, lines filing down stairs to the subway station, highways whizzing with traffic, while delivery trucks and bicyclists jockey for space on the roads. And throughout River West and the Fulton River District, the sweet smell of chocolate permeates the air.
A stone's throw away from the downtown Loop, the neighborhood River West and the adjoining Fulton River District are just across the water from River North. Sandwiched between the Chicago River to the east and the Kennedy Expressway to the west, Milwaukee Avenue is the main artery that connects the two. The Ontario-Ohio interchange, on the south edge of River West and the north edge of the Fulton River District, is their shared border.
The Blue Line 'L' train passes through both of these areas, providing ready 24-hour access to downtown (only one stop away) and O'Hare International Airport. The Grand subway station is located in the Fulton River District, followed by the Chicago subway station in River West. Public transit is rounded out by CTA bus routes #8 Halsted, #56 Milwaukee, #66 Chicago and #65 Grand. Another car-free option, by bicycle is a quick way to move about with barrier-protected bike lanes and marked paths along Kinzie Street, Milwaukee Avenue and Desplaines Street. The Kennedy Expressway is quite literally in the backyard, and major arteries for driving local like Milwaukee Avenue and Halsted Street cut across town — though in rush hour traffic moves at a crawl throughout this busy hub.
What was once strictly an industrial zone for storage, warehousing and manufacturing is now home to a new generation of city-dwellers.
Historically it was a natural fit: at its doorstep was rail, river and expressway access — a recipe for success for those commercial users. And today, accessibility is still reason no. 1 to make the move here. The rush to move back to the city center has seen a spillover from River North and the Loop. With the development boom, amenities with residents in mind come too.
In the Fulton River District, two major intersections are laid out one after another: Milwaukee/Desplaines/Kinzie and Milwaukee/Grand/Halsted. In this mix, a Jewel-Osco is the first "green" LEED certified store in the grocery chain. There are banks, nail salons, pet stores and the requisite Starbucks (or two). A new green space was also a welcome addition, Park No. 551 known locally as Fulton River Park. A decade ago, none of this was here. Across the river, nearby East Bank Club is not new (it opened in 1980) but it is a destination gym if there ever was one.
In River West, the main intersection is Milwaukee/Chicago/Ogden and here centrality is key. There isn't an overwhelming selection of dining, nightlife or shopping to walk to and from. But because it shares its borders with River North, West Town and the West Loop, it is surrounded by options that are a quick cab (or bus ride or train stop) away. In the actual neighborhood, two stops for art and culture are on the Milwaukee Avenue corridor: Woman Made Gallery and Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art.
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The Essentials: Eat & Drink
The buzz is a little more dialed down here compared to next door neighborhoods, with restaurants and bars more spread out in River West and the Fulton River District. But that's not to mean they aren't incredible in their own right. Some highlights:
Piccolo Sogno: Award-winning chef Tony Priolo brings the food of his grandmother's homeland to this beloved eatery with Spaghetti Neri topped with fresh seafood and Stracci di Farro served with black truffles
The Silver Palm: This unique dining car (a vintage train car retired from the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad) is home to the "Best Sandwich in America" per TV food authority Anthony Bourdain
The Matchbox: The bar next door to sister spot The Silver Palm is perhaps Chicago's most intimate watering hole at 460 sq.ft.
The Roost Carolina Kitchen: Fried chicken comes in choices of flavors like Nashville Hot or Habanero BBQ, but the ace-in-the-hole is the buttermilk biscuit on the side
La Scarola: Best known for its calamari, this jam-packed Italian joint presents heaping portions of contemporary and traditional classics
Carnivale: Still going strong after 10 years, the lively Latin restaurant and lounge serves up ceviche, empanadas and churrasco best paired with a caipirinha or mojito
The Dawson: Beautifully crafted American cuisine at a great value earned this group-friendly gathering place a spot on the Bib Gourmand list by the prestigious Michelin Guide
Richard's Bar: $3 beers, hard boiled eggs, jukebox dancing and a cigarette-ban-be-damned attitude make this more of an institution than just a dive bar
Anchoring the Area
Follow the mouthwatering scent of chocolate to Blommer Chocolate Company (yes it truly blankets the entire surrounding radius) . They bill themselves as the largest cocoa processor and ingredient chocolate supplier in North America, and this plant provides instant gratification with an on-site shop open to the public. What to take home? Chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate-covered graham crackers, chocolate-covered almonds... you get the gist.
A lot of industry has set up along the Chicago River, but one facility is particularly Chicago-centric. The massive 940,000-square-foot plant for the local daily, Chicago Tribune, rules the riverside at 777 W. Chicago Avenue. The Chicago Tribune Freedom Center, as it's officially known, stretches a half-mile down to Grand Avenue and houses the newspaper's printing presses, all the paper (there is a lot!) and the distribution docks.
Locals Who Live Here
Young professionals looking to embrace a truly urban lifestyle are ideal demographics for the condos for sale in River West and Fulton River District. Formerly desolate stretches have been reinvigorated by real estate developments: a surge of modern towers tout brand-new everything and the conversion of warehouses into upscale lofts preserve their cool industrial character. Also the pricing is a good alternative to what River North and the West Loop command.
This is an area that, given its location, serves as a transition between high-density downtown and the more spread-out neighborhoods of the Northwest Side. So don't expect rows of single family houses sitting on perfectly-groomed lawns. Home buyers trade in yards and leafy-green streets for soaring ceiling heights, rooftops with party decks and floor-to-ceilings windows that capture downtown views. With awesome amenities (think along the lines of outdoor pools, dog runs, yoga studios and steam rooms) and a top-notch location, these condos for sale, townhouses for sale and duplex units for sale boast some of the best selling points in Chicago real estate.