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A trio of Fox Valley towns offer historic buildings, ample employment, healthy schools, lively downtowns, and easy train travel into Chicago—all at a genial, semicountrified pace. Of those three charming sisters on the Fox River—St. Charles, Geneva, and Batavia—the middle one has some of the best advantages, including the splendid Fabyan Forest Preserve, a former dairy farm and estate turned public park that has lovely gardens and footbridges, a towering windmill, and even a onetime bear cage that is now a picnic shelter. Homes in Geneva range from the mansions near the river to brand-new subdivisions in the sprawling Randall Road corridor. The mansions sometimes eclipse $1 million, but other homes in town, most built in the last 15 years, generally run from the high $200,000s to the high $400,000s.
Just beyond Geneva’s western boundaries, in Blackberry Township, lies the 650-acre Mill Creek. There the developer Sho-Deen has woven together houses, golf courses, and natural areas to create an organic extension of old Geneva (rather than another banal cornfield subdivision). The well-stocked Mill Creek Village Center provides a complementary retail option, while the two big golf courses, the swim club, the walking paths, and, in some areas, the big houses all in a row give the development a contemporary spin. Recent Mill Creek sales include $305,000 for a three-bedroom house built in 2005 in the neotraditionalist Pinehurst neighborhood, as well as $417,000 for a four-bedroom residence built 11 years ago near the Tanna Farms golf clubhouse.
PLUS: The strip malls along Randall Road are convenient sources of pretty much everything homeowners might need.
MINUS: The Randall Road strip malls exemplify the blandness that too often accompanies suburban sprawl.