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Neighborhoods to Watch

by Chicago Agent

There are currently 228 neighborhoods in Chicago, and more seem to be popping up daily. As for the number of suburbs included in the Chicagoland area, there are just too many to count. This is the reason every year we publish our Neighborhoods to Watch issue. This year, we’ve rounded up seven different experts to discuss seven of the neighborhoods that Realtors need to know about. Take a look at what makes these areas sing and find out why these places are the ones to watch.

Ukrainian Village
• LOCATION: Division Street to the north, Grand Avenue to the south, Western Avenue to the west and Damen Avenue to the east
• POPULATION: 30,888
• MEDIAN HOME PRICE: $381,000

The Ukrainian Village is the perfect combination of old school and new school. Not long after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, a wave of Ukrainian and Russian immigrants settled here and by the early 1900s, the majority of Chicago’s 30,000 Ukrainian immigrants resided in this special neighborhood.

Along the beautiful tree-lined streets of Ukrainian Village you’ll find the local residents take particular pride in their gardens, which adorn the yards of the red-brick two-flats, three-story greystones and pristine churches like Holy Trinity Cathedral and St. Nicholas Catholic Church.

In recent years, new developments have brought a boom of shopping, restaurants and nightlife, particularly up and down Chicago Avenue from Ashland down to Western. New hot spots like Old Oak Tap and Darkroom can be found just a couple doors down from old favorites like Kasia’s deli, known for having the best pierogi in Chicago.

Tucked away just south of the Bucktown/Wicker Park area, Ukrainian Village has a little something for everyone and is still one of the more affordable neighborhoods on the Northwest side. Grab your morning coffee at Atomix, pick up your groceries at Chicagoland’s newest Dominick’s, hunt down some vintage vinyl at Permanent Records or catch a live band at Empty Bottle. Feel like heading downtown for some shopping? Your clients can take the Chicago bus straight to the heart of the Magnificent Mile.

For a great taste of Ukrainian Village, check out West Fest, an annual street fest on Chicago Avenue between Damen and Wood on July 11-12 this year, and the Ukrainian Village Fest on September 12-13.

KARA FINNEGAN Residential Specialist
Dream Town Realty 312.423.9150
kara.finnegan@dreamtown.com

Favorite Attraction: High Dive at 1938 W. Chicago Ave. This is a neighborhood restaurant and bar with a great selection of beers and the best jukebox in the city. The staff at High Dive is comprised of some of the nicest people around. The menu goes beyond your average bar food with items such as my favorite, the ahi tuna club. You can sit outside on the sidewalk patio on a hot summer night or sit inside and listen to good music, catch up with friends or play a game of scrabble.

Berwyn

• LOCATION: 12 miles west of Chicago, just west of Cicero and south of Oak Park
• POPULATION: 54,016
• MEDIAN HOME PRICE: $255,000

Berwyn’s greatest asset by far is its housing stock. A classic inner ring suburb of Chicago, Berwyn has a good mix of single- and multi-family homes, and its contribution to Chicago’s bungalow belt is substantial. Moreover, Berwyn is affordable and highly accessible, close to a Metra line and well situated between the Eisenhower and Stevenson Expressways to the north and south, respectively.

In Berwyn, a solidly built home with individual characteristics, like intricate woodwork and glazed brick, can be purchased at a great value. The potential for additions, in attics and basements, makes most Berwyn homes a potential gold mine for building equity. The quality of a Berwyn home, and its individuality, is a refreshing alternative to suburban swaths of cookie-cutter designs and cheap construction. If nothing else, residents of Berwyn take great pride in the quality and upkeep of their homes.

Not to be overlooked, Berwyn offers four business districts: the Roosevelt Road Corridor, the Ogden Avenue Corridor, the South Berwyn/Depot District (built around the Berwyn Metra stop, and site of its newest condo development, Century Station) and the Cermak Road District, once known as “The Bohemian Wall Street.” All of the districts have something to offer in the way of shopping and dining. The 16th Street Theatre, which just opened in 2008, has contributed significantly to the growth of Berwyn’s arts scene.

Perhaps most interesting to watch over the past few years is that the diversification of Berwyn has made it a more welcoming option to a broader pool of potential homebuyers. While its old ethnic families remain — those with Czech and Bohemian roots, Italian-Americans, Greeks, Lithuanians, Poles, Yugoslavians and Ukrainians — there has been a large influx of Hispanics, African- and Asian-Americans, young professionals and a burgeoning gay and lesbian population. Berwyn’s strong traditions have been supplemented by the fresh perspectives of its newer residents.

Celebrating its centennial last year, Berwyn residents looked forward to the change that the next 100 years were to bring. Its demographic shift, along with its solid and affordable housing stock and its proud traditions, make Berwyn a great find for anyone looking to buy a home in 2009 and in the years to come.

LARS SORENSON
Realtor
Better Homes & Gardens Gloor Realty • 708.851.2252
lsorenson@gloor.com

Favorite attraction: As an architecture aficionado and having grown up in a bungalow, just riding my bike down Berwyn’s residential streets and seeing the many variations of the Chicago-style bungalow, is a real pleasure. Can I also say that I miss the Spindle? That was a great piece of public art.

Lakemoor

• LOCATION: Along State Route 120, 1.5 miles west of U.S. Route 12 and 3.5 miles east of the city of McHenry
• POPULATION: 5,532
• MEDIAN HOME PRICE: $220,040

Lakemoor is focusing on both residential and commercial expansion, but also has the accessibility of outdoor living and recreation that sets it apart from other communities. The countryside is dotted with lakes, marshes, bogs and fascinating geological sites. This is also a community of strong civic pride with a plan for growth. Rather than allowing random development, Lakemoor has developed a Comprehensive Land Use Plan that recognizes the distinctive characteristics of the environment in and around the village and encourages creative adaptation to the unique landscape.

Access to local destinations as well as suburban and downtown Chicago is simple. The village is close to the intersection of Route 12/59 and Route 120, which places it at the axis of east/west and north/south travel. Metra stations dot the area with commuter rail stations in McHenry, Fox Lake and Round Lake. This makes commuting to other suburbs or downtown Chicago easy and dependable.

The search for more living space and greater variety within a unique setting is driving single-family and townhome buyers to Lakemoor. Kirk Homes’ Rockwell Place offers these features and more. The thoughtful planning now in place in Lakemoor ensures that this area will grow and prosper, and that its natural beauty will be protected and enhanced.

PAM EWALD • On-Site Specialist
Kirk Homes • 815.578.0625
pewald@kirkhomes.com

Favorite Attraction: I love the Chocolate Hut on Route 120, which sells candy and is always busy. For informal dining there is Henny Penny Restaurant on Route 120, and also on Route 120 you can find formal dining at acclaimed Le Vichyssois French Restaurant. Also, the always-entertaining Lakemoorfest is held in August for residents.

Naperville

• LOCATION: 28 miles west of Chicago
• POPULATION: 145,000
• MEDIAN HOME PRICE: $375,860

Ranked as a top community in the United States to raise children, retire or start a home-based business, Naperville boasts nationally acclaimed schools, the best public library system in the country, an exceptionally low crime rate and a lower unemployment rate than the state’s average. In 2008, Naperville was once again named one of best places to live in the United States by Money Magazine, ranked third of 100 finalists three times now.

World-class parks and unique cultural opportunities make Naperville the destination of choice for both residents and visitors. On a nice day, thousands of people come into town to stroll along the picturesque Naperville Riverwalk, frolic at Naperville Centennial Beach or enjoy a free outdoor concert. Naperville has not been immune to the real estate downturn in home prices. Depending on the home price, the market absorption can be as little as six months or as long as four years. Homes priced for the first-time buyer market is experiencing a robust seller’s market with the absorption rate around six months. Whereas homes priced over the $1 million threshold are in a robust buyer’s market with the market absorption rate approaching, and sometimes exceeding, four years of inventory.

In times of uncertainty, there is what is often referred to as a “flight to quality.” This occurs in the stock market and the real estate market as well. Naperville is certainly a quality city with outstanding amenities.

CATHERINE PENDERGAST • Realtor
Baird & Warner 630.518.8919
catherine.pendergast@bairdwarner.com

Favorite Attraction: My favorite attraction in Naperville is the walkable downtown area with the fine restaurants, retail stores, boutiques, Riverwalk and Centennial Beach. Seems like everything you need is located right here in Naperville and there is something for everyone!

Long Grove

• LOCATION: 37 miles northwest of Chicago
• POPULATION: 6,735
• MEDIAN HOME PRICE: $555,400

Long Grove is a hidden jewel in the northwest suburbs located just 34 miles from downtown Chicago. Driving through the area gives you a feel of country living, yet it is convenient to major roads and shopping. Long Grove is oriented to a rural lifestyle, and this is what has attracted its residents. The Village’s official policy is to preserve that rural character forever.

The majority of homes in Long Grove are custom in design and are situated on one-acre, or larger, homesites. A cherished feature of Long Grove is the privacy its residents enjoy. This is due to the rural zoning and emphasis on the retention of natural vegetation on both public and private property alike. Excellent schools are a major draw to the community, including award-winning Stevenson High School. Homes vary in price, depending on the age, size and amenities included. If you like to play golf, there are several courses in the immediate area.

The quaint downtown business area offers a variety of restaurants including Italian, continental, burgers, and a weekly fish fry. The shops have something for everyone, up-to-the-minute apparel, gift items, floral, art works, a spa and, of course, chocolate.

SANDY MATUS, GRI Realtor
Weichert Realtors McKee Real Estate • 847.634.6500
sandy@weichertmckee.com

Favorite Attraction: My favorite attractions in Long Grove are by far the festivals sponsored throughout the year starting in May with the Chocolate Fest. Then there is the Strawberry Fest in June and the Apple Fest in October. The streets in the downtown business area are lined with tents selling various food items of the featured event, music and activities for children, including pony rides and face painting. There is nothing better than spending a day walking through town and enjoying all the events, as well as tasting the various foods.

North Center

• LOCATION: Bordered north by Montrose Avenue, south by Diversey Parkway, west by the Chicago River and on the east by Ravenswood Avenue
• POPULATION: 16,682
• MEDIAN HOME PRICE: Condo: $331,000, Single Family: $665,000

I like North Center in general because of the “pace” there. things just seem to move a little slower and at ease.

I like O’Donovan’s Restaurant at 2100 W. Irving Park Road. It was once known as Schulien’s, and the location is famous for being one of the oldest operating bars in Chicago. You can also find great outdoor seating under a canopy.

The North Center Town Square is also a great attraction. From June to October, this is where a farmer’s market is held and people from the neighborhood can mingle in an open-air market.

North Center is a great area to buy real estate because of the plentiful public transportation access and its relative value compared to areas further south and east. Also, the public grammar schools that serve the boundaries, Bell and Coonley, are considered some of the best in the city and state. It is an area that will continue to thrive from many years with all of its attractions.

JOE SICILIANO
Broker Associate
@properties • 773.305.0462
jsiciliano@atproperties.com

Favorite Attraction: I would have to say O’Donovan’s. I just love the atmosphere there.

Homer Glen

• LOCATION: 11 miles southwest of Chicago in Will County
• POPULATION: 25,069
• MEDIAN HOME PRICE: $318,658

Homer Glen is a relatively new suburb, located approximately 11 miles southwest of Chicago, and is considered by many to be the “diamond” of Will County. Incorporated in 2001, and with a population of about 25,000, it’s a village with a clear vision and commitment to preserving its rural atmosphere and protecting the quality of life for its residents, including wildlife, through carefully planned development.

There are, literally, thousands of acres of open space within the village, including 1,500 acres of forest preserve. Being one of only 16 communities in Illinois to receive the Green Communities Demonstration Grant in 2002, Homer Glen is serious about and continues to focus on its green vision goals.

The village is strategically located in close proximity to major highways, including I-80, I-55 and the recently completed I-355 extension, making for easy access to the entire Chicagoland area, including both airports. It is served by three excellent grammar school districts that all feed into the renowned Lockport High School District.

Homer Glen has embraced the “life cycle” approach to housing needs, offering homes from entry-level condominiums and townhomes, to subdivisions with houses on typical suburban-sized lots, all the way to estate living with luxury homes on large parcels or in rural settings, where, in some cases, even horses are welcome! Single-family homes range in price from the mid $200,000s to well over a $1 million and there are many new developments in the village. Goodings Grove offers condos and single-family houses, and there are also many custom home developments in Homer Glen, including Cedar Pointe, Glenview Walk Estates, Evlyn’s Gate and Stonebridge Woods.

The village is presently working on plans for a town center that will serve as a gathering place for residents and visitors to enjoy outdoor concerts and recreation in a park-like setting. The building of a library is also in the works. A village with a pure and precise vision of offering quality living that embraces and preserves nature and its rural roots, Homer Glen is not a place to be overlooked!

BARBARA BRINK, GRI Sales Associate
RE/MAX Team 2000
708.364.5500
bbrink8888@hotmail.com

Favorite attraction: I love the wide open spaces and woods the best!

SOURCES: bestplaces.net/city/Lakemoor-Illinois.aspx, bestplaces.net/zip-code/Homer_Glen-Illinois-60491.aspx, bestplaces.net/city/Naperville-Illinois.aspx, berwyn.net, city-data.com/neighborhood/Ukrainian-Village-Chicago-IL.html, homes.point2.com, chicagohomeestates.com/info/CCA_North_Center_05,zillow.com/local-info/IL-Chicago/North-Center-home-value/

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