(Andrew Nelles/For RedEye)
Not many Chicagoans say they live on the "eastside," unless they live in a house boat on Lake Michigan or sleep under the rafters of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at night.
But in recent years, the number of people that call East Chicago home is growing, thanks to a blooming neighborhood being dubbed the New Eastside.
"It's like a real village within the city," said Vanessa Casciano, community relations director for a 28-acre property development called Lakeshore East. "I think it's one of the hottest new neighborhoods in town."
The New Eastside--also referred to as the Near Eastside--is situated just northeast of the Loop and is bordered by Michigan Ave, Lake Michigan, the Chicago River and Millennium Park.
Even though the neighborhood is a stones throw away from the city's top tourist attractions and bustling business district, Casciano said don't expect the New Eastside to be littered with tourists, street vendors and bucket boys. Instead, expect to find more families, dogs and runners nestled among the parks and paths.
"It's a quiet place, but in a good way," Casciano said. "I think people move here for both location and lifestyle."
Magellan Development Group began building apartments, condominiums and park houses for the Lakeshore East concept about 15 years ago, but it wasn't the first major development in the area. The condo's at 400 E. Randolph St. and the Illinois Center were some of the first residential buildings to spring up in the area, which was previously occupied by old tangles of railroad yards.
Now the New Eastside is home to at least 10,000 people and harbors famed buildings such as the Aon Center, Prudential Plaza and Buckingham Plaza. But some of the most important additions to the new space have been the 6-acre park – which includes a dog park and designated children's play area – and a three-story Village Market Center containing several restaurants and a high-end grocery store.
Casciano noted that in addition to community events like yoga and movies in the park, the businesses are what gives the neighborhood its character, and what will ultimately help transform it from just a property development into a genuine destination for nesting, dining and shopping.
"The retail has really boomed and that's what has made it such a community," she said. "It's really a neighborhood now."
To do in the New Eastside
At the epicenter of the retail business in the New Eastside is the Village Market Center, at 333 E. Benton Plaza. For casual dining, there is a Mariano's Fresh Market grocery store, Eggy's breakfast diner and Black Coffee Gallery cafe. More sophisticated dining can be found at Three Forks Steakhouse, which features al fresco dining on its rooftop. For everyday errands, there is a Fifth Third Bank and even a chiropractor. But be sure to check out the pristine parks at Lakeshore East, which often host movies in the park, yoga classes and work out boot camps.
In addition to a Mexican restaurant and a potential sandwich shop, there will also be a Cuticle Nail Salon and a Gems Elementary School coming soon to the New Eastside. For those hoping to snag some real estate in the new neighborhood, Magellan is also developing a new set of apartment buildings called The Coast, which will be available in February.