SEP 27, 2019

Downtown living is a desire with no age limit

Daily Herald

The energy and excitement of city life draws homebuyers to downtown living in the suburbs where they have the best of both worlds.

The feeling of space and ease of life coupled with city amenities and conveniences make downtown living a good choice for many homebuyers -- especially those who want to right size because their children are grown and gone.

Buyers at Airhart Construction's two downtown Wheaton communities are invigorated by the urban feel around them, said Christy Whelan, sales director for the builder. "They thrive on it. They love walking to restaurants and shopping and all the downtown amenities and activities."

Building in suburban downtowns is all the rage, said Jeff Benach, co-owner of Lexington Homes, which often builds townhouse communities in the downtown suburbs.

"It's been the rage all over the country for the last several years," he said.

Residents living downtown often have the convenience of walking to a local train station for a commute into Chicago. They also may enjoy a community festival or summer music concert just a few blocks from their front door.

Area builders offer single-family homes, rowhouses and condominiums -- from the mid-$300,000s to $1 million or more -- in suburban downtowns.

Hogan Design and Construction built five, 3,299-square-foot rowhouses in the heart of Geneva and a total of 11 homes within six blocks of the center of town. Two are custom homes closer to the train and one was built for a quadriplegic who wants easier accessibility to downtown Geneva, said Brian Hogan, owner and founder of the company.

These distinctive rowhouse combine Old World charm with modern open floor plans, Hogan said. Each unit features individual entrances, three bedrooms, 3½ baths, a large enclosed study and fireplace, a two-car garage and the option of an elevator. There is a potential upgrade to build for disability accessibility.

City Homes of North Wheaton, a detached rowhouse development by Davidson Homes, offers 3,600-square-foot luxury homes downtown Wheaton favored by empty-nesters and those ready to right-size.

Homes in this exclusive enclave feature beautiful frontage with customized interiors, making each floor plan different. Some people like more traditional entertaining while others prefer the open concept great room with a fireplace.

"We listen to what our clients want," said David Heise, president of Davidson Homes. "Most of our clients want no dining room and no living room; they prefer a large great room and kitchen area."

Airhart Construction showcases two upscale communities in downtown Wheaton -- Courthouse Square and Wesley Place.

Courthouse Square offers charming, Virginia-style, all-brick rowhouses with private courtyards. Elevators access the master suite or office that overlooks the courtyard.

Wesley Place is a charming neighborhood of five distinctive homes with a townhouse lifestyle free from attached walls. Homes feature bright and airy floor plans with a basement and detached garage.

These rowhouse communities don't only attract buyers from the Wheaton area. Wheaton College is a draw for buyers who attended the college and want to move back home. One buyer is a doctor who moved from Virginia; he had gone to Wheaton College and had friends and family in the area.

The Lexington Pointe community of 58 townhouses in downtown Des Plaines shows traditional exteriors that call back to the townhouses of the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park. Each home has a free-flowing open plan for entertaining, wood flooring and 9-foot ceilings throughout the main level.

What else makes these downtown developments so popular?

Unique features

Many of these builders offer unique features in their homes that buyers find irresistible.

Hogan's rowhouses in Geneva feature rooftop living with a four-sided glass sunroom on the roof from which homeowners can walk onto a 500-square-foot deck for a view of the river.

"I can't say enough about this community." Hogan said. "It's one of the best places in the world."

Buyers of a rowhouse at City Homes of North Wheaton don't want a condominium, Heise said. "They like the private rear yard space and oversized, private, two-car driveway where there's plenty of space for family and friends to stay for a long weekend."

Wesley Place also features a private retreat level, rooftop terrace option and a private rear courtyard and pocket garden with the option of a screened porch or outdoor fireplace. People want to downsize, but still want to have a garden or plant flowers, Whelan said.


"As first time home buyers, we were nervous to say the least when we decided to start looking for a place to buy."

- Ravi and Indira