Where to Buy Now

The silver lining behind the residential real-estate collapse is the opportunity for housing bargains. Here are 14 up-and-coming Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs where prices are relatively low and the promise for future growth is strong

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SUBURBS

DOWNERS GROVE
County: DuPage
Population: 48,995

The grand old Tivoli Theater and the red-brick and terra cotta train station in the center of Downers Grove have gained several new neighbors in the past decade: condo buildings, airy new retail spaces, and a big municipal parking structure. The same sort of thing has happened along many of the town’s residential blocks, where newly built houses have been tucked among existing homes.

The town already had a heterogeneous mix, everything from ornate Victorians to low-slung ranch houses. The newcomers have mostly come in a few notches higher than their older neighbors, but those new residences are suffering most during the real-estate downturn. In early summer, I wandered onto Bryan Place, a short street northwest of the downtown area that has been made over with nine new houses by assorted builders. Five of them were occupied, and the other four—complete, ready for occupancy, and all priced around $700,000—were sitting empty. Of course, an overload of new houses, with their relatively reasonable prices marked down by tens of thousands of dollars, makes this town a magnet for bargain hunters.

PLUS: The well-performing Downers Grove North High School, the 135-acre Lyman Woods Forest Preserve, and transportation. Downers Grove sits at the junction of I-88 and I-355, and on top of that, says Bomba, “my train-snob clients love the excessive number of express trains” headed into Chicago during the morning rush hour.
MINUS: Some streets have developed a discordant look, with large new houses squeezed between and towering over older, more horizontal residences.

 

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