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Housing Evolution

People have long considered a real estate purchase in Rolling Meadows to be a great investment. They love it for its location in the heart of everything and for its excellent schools, well-maintained parks, bike trails and other community features/amenities such as the Ned Brown Forest Preserve.

In fact, it is still in demand for new construction, when land becomes available.

“Now that the recession is ending, there has been a marked increase in interest in our in-fill vacant property,” said Valerie Dehner, director of community development for Rolling Meadows. “We are one of the few communities in the area with such a wide variety of housing opportunities for singles, couples, families and seniors.”

For instance, Lexington Homes is currently constructing “Lexington Crossing,” a community of 54 townhouses, on the site of the former bowling alley on Kirchoff Road in the City’s downtown area. It is the first new construction development of its kind in the City in many years and is targeting young families, singles and empty-nesters with two and three-bedroom units with high-end inclusions like granite countertops, hardwood floors on the main level and stainless steel appliances, according to Jeff Benach, co-principal of Lexington Homes.

“When we find a piece of property that presents an opportunity, we make a list of its pluses and minuses and decide from there whether to proceed,” he explained.

“The Rolling Meadows parcel had a great list of pluses. It is located less than a mile from Route 53, but you would never know it. It is only one exit north of I-90 and minutes from O’Hare. Everything around this development is new and fresh-looking; you can easily walk to many things; and the price of the property was good enough to offer townhouses there with all the bells and whistles at an affordable price,” Benach added.

As recently as 60 years ago, however, Rolling Meadows was nothing but a large expanse of apple and pear orchards. It was unincorporated and some in Arlington Heights were hoping to turn much of it into a golf course, according to Beverly Keagle, vice president of the Rolling Meadows Historical Society.

But Kimball Hill intervened. He had other ideas.

Trained as an attorney but working as a builder, Hill purchased those orchards because he thought it was the perfect location for the master-planned community that he had already designed. Church locations were even mapped out.

The original homes, two and three-bedroom ranch homes built on crawl spaces, were constructed along Campbell Street, west of Wilke Road. He even built three homes and gave them to the school district for a temporary school.

Another house became Rolling Meadows’ first city hall after the community was incorporated in 1955.

Kimball Hill’s crews quickly filled the community’s large lots with ranch homes. North of Kirchoff they contained “plennem heating” and were powered by oil, South of Kirchoff, they were powered by gas. The pipes were laid under the homes’ floors and served to keep them warm, Keagle recalled.

“The two-bedroom model sold for $10,900 at first while the three-bedroom model sold for $11,900 and many ofthe buyers were returning GIs from World War II and Korea whom Kimball Hill would finance himself, if necessary,”

she said. “The houses weren’t built with garages. Most

of us built our own detached garages later.”

For many years, Kimball Hill was the only builder working in Rolling Meadows. They even built some condominiums. But eventually other builders caught on and started building both single family homes and multi-family townhouses, condominiums and apartments in the city, too.

“We now have four generations of some families living here because it is such a nice community and many of the original owners have never left. We have just added on to our homes because Kimball Hill designed them with additions in mind,” Keagle stated.

At the other end of the spectrum are the large single family homes located in the Quentin Ridge, Creekside, Plum Grove Creek, Plum Meadows and other similar subdivisions, primarily located west of Route 53. Many sell for over $600,000 and tend to appeal to corporate transplants who are new to the area.

In comparatively low supply and high demand in Rolling Meadows are condominiums and townhouses which are popular with young people as an alternative to renting, particularly because they come equipped with garages.

Empty-nesters, on the other hand, flock to Plum Grove Village and Fairfax Village where the two-bedroom townhouses which were built in the 1960s and 1970s, respectively, are a hot commodity.

The new Lexington Crossing community will increase the supply of this type of housing for both groups. °

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