Gentrification wanted in Waukegan

Josh Noel and Barbara Bell report in the Tribune that condo sales have started, among the first steps in the city’s ambitious “downtown plan”:

bq. [Developer John Bergeron] makes no apologies for the price of the units, despite what he called the “non-believers” who say enough buyers can’t be lured there. Anything is possible, he said, if the condos can project the North Shore’s image of affluence. “That’s the only way you’re going to be able to change the perception of Waukegan,” he said. “In a matter of a few years, you’re going to see an amazing transformation.”

bq. Among the skeptics is Skokie developer Chris Rintz of New England Developers, which built a 350-condominium development called HarborPark along the lakefront in Kenosha. The major difference between the two is price, he said. In Kenosha, about 20 miles north, units cost $80,000 to $300,000 and all look onto Lake Michigan. “Just because you can see the lake doesn’t mean you can charge North Shore prices,” Rintz said. “I don’t think Waukegan is significantly different from Kenosha.”

Not significantly different, but different enough: just two towns past the North Shore, and right in the middle of Illinois’ wealthiest county. Yes, $200-$900K is pretty rich and I’m not sure that Chicagoans are necessarily the right target market, but the North Shore as a whole is pretty starved for any multifamily product.