By Leigh Nevers
The Chicago market is full of well-established inner-ring suburbs that have flourished over the last several decades. Today, many of these towns are undergoing a seismic demographic shift with one segment of the population gearing up for an empty nest, while another embarks on the road to independence by shopping around for their first home.
As a result, Lennar’s Chicago division is preparing for a new wave of development in established commuter-friendly locations like Lemont, Wood Dale, Arlington Heights, Orland Park, Bridgeview, Des Plaines, Morton Grove and Chicago Ridge. Maintenance-free developments in these towns and many others appeal to buyers who are ready to shed the extra weight of their single-family homes, but don’t want to leave their existing neighborhoods. At the same time, these infill locations put young professionals in proximity to everything they could want in a first or second home, from convenient shopping and dining to job centers and transportation.
One town to watch in 2008 is Lemont, which is currently undergoing a $250 million downtown revitalization. Lennar is currently building a community of 42 townhomes that will put residents within walking distance of a mix of retail, residential and office uses, as well as a Canal Walk attraction along the historic I&M Canal. Residents of Lemont are also only a swift trip to the city via the Metra’s Heritage Corridor Line.
Another under-the-radar infill location that will gain momentum in the upcoming year is west-suburban Wood Dale, where Lennar is developing 26 townhomes. A 36-minute train ride from the Loop, Wood Dale is also minutes west of O’Hare. Any Chicagoan knows that some of the worst traffic pileups are found on the expressways that immediately surround the airport, so frequent fliers can especially appreciate taking the back roads to catch a flight.
These new developments are a welcome supplement to the aging housing stock that characterizes many inner-ring suburbs. Today’s on-the-go buyer understands the perks of a maintenance-free lifestyle in a new-construction condominium or townhome. Downsizers are tired of shoveling the sidewalk in the winter months, and young professionals are simply too busy to spend their time mowing the lawn on the weekends.
It’s interesting to imagine a 20-something young professional having coffee with their active downsizing neighbors, but it’s a common occurrence in these infill developments, thanks to a variety of flexible floor plans.
Multi-level townhomes appeal to single buyers who want enough square footage to spread out with their PC and work files, or to throw down their yoga mat in an exercise room. Areas like finished lower levels are ideal for telecommuting during the work week, and secondary bedrooms allow buyers to pump up the weights in the privacy of their own home.
On the other hand, their downsizing neighbors can enjoy these infill locations thanks to new raised-ranch townhome designs that minimize up and down on stairs. Many of these townhomes also measure more than 2,000 square feet, so they won’t miss the coveted entertaining and storage space of their single-family homes.
While transit-oriented developments certainly aren’t a new concept to the Chicago market, the under-construction expressways and rising gas prices are taking a toll on today’s homebuyers. Infill developments are crucial to saving time, money and energy, and buyers will certainly realize these benefits well beyond 2008.
Leigh Nevers is the vice president of sales and marketing for Lennar. For more information, visit www.Lennar.com.
Copyright 2008 Agent Publishing LLC