Oak Park Condos
Ernest Hemingingway once called Oak Park home. So did Frank Lloyd Wright. This community that borders Chicago has a rich history reflected in its famous native sons, its landmark historic district and in a wide range of housing including high-rises, mid-rises and vintage conversion condos. The community got its start in 1839 when it was settled by Joseph Kettlestrings, a native of England who built the first home in Oak Park.
The community really began to boom following Chicago’s Great Fire of 1871 when city dwellers exited Chicago in search of less congestion. Oak Park continued to grow in the ensuing decades and, in 1902, was incorporated as a village. Though Oak Park is considered a village, it’s not small and sleepy. Oak Park is a thriving, ethnically diverse community that has quiet streets lined with green lawns, as well as othe thoroughfare that bustle with traffic, businesses and reflect its vitality. The business district’s urban vibe is due to itslarge number of businesses including a movie theater.
The community has chain stores such as The Gap and Ann Taylor, as well as a large number of locally-owned businesses and restaurants. Book stores, boutiques selling hip clothes, jewelry, and home accessories, as well as antique stores have a place in Oak Park. The mix of restaurants, from Thai to American bistros to Italian and more, is just as varied and interesting. Those restaurants serve thousands of tourists who gravitate to Oak Park every year to visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio where the Prairie style of architecture was born.
They also visit the home of the famed author Ernest Hemingway. It’s not unusual in Oak Park to see visitors from around the world stepping off buses and meandering the steets as they tour the community’s landmark sites. Needless to say, the Prairie style of architecture is found in Oak Park along with a large number of other styles including the painted ladies of the Victorian era, bungalows, Queen Anne’s, four squares and arts and crafts style houses. The community’s landmark historic district also claims Pleasant House, an elegant mansion designed by the renowned architect George Maher. Today, it is the headquarters of the Oak Park River Forest Historical Society and houses the village’s museum.
Tree-lined streets, beautiful parks and easy access to expressways and public transit to Chicago’s Loop are other elements that make Oak Park an attractive place to live. For condo dwellers, the options for a place to call home are many. A penthouse in new construction condo building is in the upper $800,000 range. Three bedroom units feature 10-foot-high ceilings, hardwood floors, granite counters and access to a health club.
A condo in the mid-200,000 range may be a renovated, two bedroom unit completely updated with cherry cabinets, crown molding and a space in a one-car attached garage. Buyers in search of their first condo will find ample stock in Oak Park. A one bedroom, one bath unit is a vintage courtyard building or in a building dating from the 1950s or ’60s that has been converted to condos can be found in the $110,000 to $160,000 range. With it’s mix of housing styles, from condos to single family homes, Oak Park manages to balance and urban vibe with a suburban one.
The result is a community that represents value for condo buyers seeking a home in which to live or an condo in which to invest.