It turns out that the microeconomy of Wicker Park/Bucktown (WPB) seems to be thriving while the rest of the country is mired in stagnation. The Bucktown six corners (there are multiple claims to that moniker) at North/Milwaukee/Damen is seeing a rush to development with a new 90-room boutique hotel and some new retail. I think this lends credence to the idea that WPB is going to be the next ‘super-hot’ neighborhood in Chicago, if the rest of the economy doesn’t drag it down.
As much as anything, it is emblematic of the neighborhood being seen as more than just trendy. In the area, a lot of the current establishments are basically lifestyle stores for people that think Pitchfork music festival is the greatest achievement of mankind. In other words, if you want skinny jeans, garish shoes, plastic glasses, actual vinyl records or flannel shirts to wear in the blazing summer heat, that’s the place to be.
The new stores are going to be AT&T, Caribou Coffee, Walgreens et al. Decidedly more corporate and diversifying a neighborhood economy that, up to this point, has been a little too dependent on used-shirt bartering.
When the big money gets into the trendy parts of town, that is the first marker of massive trend change. The truly fashion forward will be dropping skinny jeans sooner rather than later (Joy!) and the next big thing is coming. The style will be different but one thing will remain the same: whoever wears it will have regrets 15 years from now when their family members are going over old photos and laughing at how ridiculous the clothes are.