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Despite a nationwide market slowdown in real estate, Elmhurst has managed to provide new living options and arrangements to its residents for years. Specifically, the past decade or so has brought in a dramatic increase in variety of living options with more upscale homes built and the addition of condominiums and townhomes. Part of that increase has to do with the wealth of builders Elmhurst has attracted to the area, but also to do with the different draws for residents so that even those that leave for a time often consider returning in a few years.

One group that has had decades of experience to evaluate the way homes have evolved in Elmhurst is the Architects’ Studio. Numerous buildings have gone up in that time span, and the Architects’ Studio has had plenty of opportunity to participate on different levels, including the recent construction of townhomes. “We did a series of townhomes along the western edge of downtown Elmhurst, five different townhome projects,” said Jeff Budgell (pictured on page 18) of Architects’ Studio. “Since the last five years,” commented Budgell, “there have been a lot of folks moving in.” In particular, Budgell noticed an influx of “young families coming from Chicago.”

West Studio and its designers noted much of the same kind of movement, and they draw from an even longer background in Elmhurst. “My dad [Ed] actually started an architectural firm here in the sixties,” said Steve Jaskowiak (pictured at right) of West Studio. “He started it in the early 60s, and that’s kind of how I got interested in architecture.” Springing from that interest, the younger Jaskowiak began West Studio based on the prairie-style architecture principles popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Burley Griffin and their colleagues. An example of this type of architecture lies in the F.B. Henderson House at 301 South Kenlworth Avenue in Elmhurst. It was built in the early 1900s with Wright acting as architect. Specifically, West Studio strives to build structures in harmony with their surroundings. Jaskowiak, too, recognized growth in the Elmhurst area. “The biggest change was probably when the [housing] boom hit in ’97-’98,” said Jaskowiak. “There was a period of time when nothing was happening north of North Avenue, but that barrier broke probably midway through that boom.” He has acknowledged a mixed influx of people moving into Elmhurst townhomes including “younger couples with kids coming in from the city and older couples in town, empty nesters, gravitating more toward the multi-family type housing.”

Even in a market slowed due to recent economic conditions, Elmhurst’s varied real estate options continue to maintain value and expand. Though the market has altered some, “The townhomes have been the least affected,” said Kevin Connell, a long-time agent of L.W. Reedy Real Estate. New construction has not taken a break in Elmhurst, either. “If you drive up and down the streets, there are still houses being built all over town,” said Connell.

condo

Condominium developments like Crescent Court (Phase I and II), Museum Square and North District, the upcoming Hahn Street Development in downtown Elmhurst, are springing up and offer a new way of living. The Morningside Group helped bring Museum Square condos and townhomes to Elmhurst only recently, and successfully won the bid for the Hahn Street Development in late 2007. North District residents, spread out over 82 condos and seven townhomes, will have the chance to benefit from all downtown Elmhurst has to offer. This includes ease of transportation, a thriving cultural scene and downtown businesses for apparel, jewelry, sporting goods and specialty items. In fact, 20,000 square feet of street-level space within North District will be specifically set aside for stores and other businesses, encouraging a mutually beneficial relationship between residents and retailers besides fostering new tax revenue.

Eventual construction of the North District development and the enduring market value of townhomes substantiate the growth in interest of new housing options in Elmhurst for adults of all ages. As new, pioneering alternatives in housing continue to appear in Elmhurst, both those who have lived and left this City, and those who have never seen it, will likely have reason to give it consideration, possibly for the first time, but probably to stay for good.

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