Elmhurst real estate blog archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 169

Elmhurst College to Become Elmhurst University

by Thomas Makinney

A big but not-so-big change is in store for Elmhurst College, which will soon become Elmhurst University.

In June 2020, Elmhurst College will officially become Elmhurst University. The college’s board of trustees approved the name change on June 15, and it will go into effect one year before the school’s 150th anniversary in 2021. However, the core values and programs of the school will remain intact.

Elmhurst College currently offers 20 master’s degrees graduate certificate programs, and the name change better reflects that depth and breadth. The college hopes the name change will enhance recruitment and name recognition amongst international, graduate, and nontraditional students, as well as reduce misconceptions of potential employers, assist in academic and partnership opportunities, and allow for greater opportunities for participation in international and other off-campus programs.

The plan has been in the works for more than three years. In 2016, President Troy D. VanAken initiated a strategic planning process in anticipation of the school’s sesquicentennial anniversary. In 2018, college administrators began holding a series of meetings and discussions before making the change, consulting with faculty, staff, and students, as well as the board of trustees and alumni groups. The recommendation went through a series of campus groups before going to the board of trustees for final approval.

Current graduate degrees include master’s programs in business administration (MBA), industrial/organizational psychology, early childhood education, special education, nursing, occupational therapy, and computer information technology. Graduate certificate programs include data science, project management, and market research.

The school formed an advisory committee, which includes board members, faculty, staff, students, and alumni—to lead the transition and ensure that all stakeholders have a say and understanding of the planning and implementation of the change.

Elmhurst College has always been a strong school, recognized nationally by external ranking surveys, such as U.S. News and World Reports. The emphasis on academics, a liberal arts education, and professional preparation will remain unchanged.

Having a college/university right in our center is one aspect of what makes Elmhurst so culturally unique. The programs it offers and the variety of students who attend add to the energy and vigor of the city.

To learn more about life in Elmhurst, reach out to us anytime at (630) 441-5570 or via our website, www.gmregroup.com.

District 205 Starts Implementing Referendum Changes

by Thomas Makinney

District 205 is already making strides on its fall referendum mandates. The much-anticipated all-day kindergarten may begin much earlier than expected, at least for some schools. And new boundary lines have been finalized and approved for Edison School in a few years. 

The all-day kindergarten program is part of the district’s master facilities plan. The program was targeted to begin in the 2024-25 school year; however, district officials announced that Fischer Elementary could be ready to begin rolling out the program as soon as this fall. The school already hosts an all-day dual language program, an integrated Spanish-English curriculum that begins in kindergarten and continues through fifth grade.

Following Fischer, Emerson and Jefferson appear ready to begin rolling out the program for the 2020-2021 school year. Others may be ready by 2022.

Some kinks are still being worked out. Board members anticipate that students within the school boundaries would be given first priority, and the program would then open to others in the district if spots are still available.

In other forward-moving news, minor boundary adjustments have been finalized for Edison School. The adjustment won’t go into effect until June 2022, and they will boost Edison’s enrollment while easing some of the crowding at Jackson and Hawthorne.

No current families will be impacted, only families who move into a home after June 1, 2002, and fall within certain boundaries (i.e., the east side of York Avenue and north side of St. Charles Road and either side of Harrison Street, going north to the south side of Butterfield Road).

In other exciting District 205 news, York High School class of 2019 was the 100th graduating class! A great school keeps getting better.

Elmhurst District 205 consistently ranks among the best in the state, and we love that administrators are always looking forward and addressing changing needs. To find out more about our schools or about life in Elmhurst, call us at (630) 441-5570 or reach out via our website, www.gmregroup.com.

Dated cabinets? There’s a reface for that

by Thomas Makinney

Kitchens are considered the heart of the home, and they’re one of the first rooms buyers look at when they enter a home, and one of the rooms that sellers worry about the most.

Oak cabinets, laminate countertops, and beige tile can stop some buyers in their tracks. But before you rip everything out, consider if underneath that brown boringness there might be a diamond in the rough.

A kitchen remodel is one of the highest returns on investments that a homeowner can make, earning back an estimated 80-85% of cost at selling. But it is also considered one of the most expensive, particularly when replacing cabinets. Not anymore. There is a booming industry in mid-range kitchen remodels, which typically involve refacing or painting existing cabinets.

The dated mid-oak tone cabinets of 20 or 30 years ago are typically better constructed with higher-quality workmanship than the more cheaply manufactured cabinets found in many homes today. These solid-but-shabby cabinets are perfect for a re-do rather than replacement.

There are a few avenues to follow if you want to paint or reface your cabinets. The most cost-effective method involves removing doors and drawers, sanding and cleaning them, and applying fresh coats of paint or stain. Homeowners can also opt to apply a new veneer overlay on the existing cabinet. Or they can replace the doors and drawer-fronts altogether and get a new design (the crisp Shaker-style door is a popular choice today).

In addition to not replacing cabinetry or cabinetry frames, owners are also saving money by not changing the layout of the kitchen, which can incur costs from moving appliances (which typically involve gas, electrical, or plumbing). Even if you put in new appliances, you’re still way ahead budget-wise.

Just don’t forget the hardware. Fresh brushed nickel or rubbed bronze hardware make a world of difference when updating a kitchen.

When considering a mid-range remodel, it’s helpful to check with a local real estate professional who knows what the market in your area and price range can bear. You don’t want to put in professional-grade appliances and top-line granite in a home valued at $275,000. Similarly, you don’t want to skimp on finishing touches that buyers in an upper-level home will be expecting (such as pull-out pantry drawers, under-cabinet lighting, high-end granite, stone, or quartz countertops).

A real estate professional will also know what must-haves are in kitchens in your area. Certain areas have features that attract or repel buyers. Finally, if you’re remodeling a kitchen for resale value, be sure to keep the color scheme simply and neutral. Neutral doesn’t have to mean boring, just nothing too loud or busy.

If you’re interested in what a kitchen facelift might entail in your home, give us a call at (630) 441-5570 or reach out through our website, www.gmregroup.com

Image courtesy of moneypit.com.

Welcome Shelly Valdiserri to the Gracik Makinney Group!

by Thomas Makinney

Gracik Makinney Group is thrilled to announce Shelly Valdiserri as our newest realtor team member.

Shelly knows firsthand the challenges and rewards of finding a perfect home and selling a home quickly. She has been in the interior design field for the past 15 years and brings her extensive experience to the real estate field, whether that is staging your home to show off its best assets or helping you see the possibilities and potential of homes you are viewing.

Her experience has given her insight on what sellers can do to get top dollar for their home to encourage a timely sale. Likewise, she can advise buyers about possibilities for making a house a home that works for them along with anticipated pricing. Did we mention she also has experience working in marketing and advertising?

Shelly literally grew up immersed in the housing industry. Her father was a builder and her mother a successful realtor, and she grew up learning the nuances of building homes, remodeling, decorating, and buying properties.

She earns praise from her clients for her energy, enthusiasm, commitment, and resourcefulness. She is known for being proactive and professional and having a positive attitude—a true asset in this business!

Shelly is a long-time resident of the western suburbs. She and her husband raised their two daughters in Elmhurst. They have also lived in Chicago, Hinsdale, Naperville, and Glen Ellyn. She definitely has the insight and knowledge of the area!

Please join us in welcoming Shelly! You can reach out to her (or any of us!) through our website,www.gmregroup.com or contact her directly at (630) 886-8039.

The arts will officially have a permanent home in Elmhurst! The Elmhurst Center for the Performing Arts announced that the building at 109–119 W. First St. (between Addison and York) will be the location for its proposed 50,000 square foot performing arts center.

Not only will the performing arts center be located directly across from the Metra train station, the building will also be right in the middle of Elmhurst’s vibrant downtown scene—near restaurants, shopping, wine bars, and pubs.

Since 2016, the ECPA board has been searching for the perfect location that would provide easy access via public transportation and access to the central downtown area. The center will offer a permanent home for theater, music, dance, and comedy performances, both local and regional/traveling, as well as space for classes and meetings.

The board is now working on securing funding for the $30 million building. The hope is that funds can be raised through a capital campaign, grants, and naming rights, among other methods. Official plans cannot begin until those funds are secured, meaning the tenants currently occupying the location will not be impacted for three to five years.

The board is continuing to hold public meetings for residents to learn more about getting involved and what the center will bring to the community. So far, support and enthusiasm from residents continue to pour in.

For more information and to see a virtual rendering of the Elmhurst Center for the Performing Arts, visit www.ecpa-elmhurst.org.

Here at Gracik Makinney, we’re thrilled at the progress being made. Our city has long been a proponent of the arts, with four museums, a college, and a world-class library. To find out more about what living the Elmhurst life looks like, visit our website, www.gmregroup.com or call us at (630) 441-5570.

Photo courtesy of Elmhurst Center for the Performing Arts

Elmhurst Art Museum Hosts Only U.S. Stop for Bauhaus Tour

by Thomas Makinney

The Elmhurst Art Museum has reason to toot its horn. Their current exhibition, The Whole World a Bauhaus, which opened last week after a transportation delay, is the only U.S. stop on its international tour.

2019 is the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus movement, an integrated approach to the art, crafts, and technology. Founded in Germany, it lasted only 14 years due to the Nazi occupation, but the effects are still being felt. The tenants of Bauhaus include the feeling that aesthetic design elements should be a part of everyday objects, from refrigerators to coffee tables.

The EAM has specific ties to the Bauhaus movement, as McCormick House architect Mies van der Rohe was the last director of the school before it closed, leaving its ideals spread across the world. The McCormick House, adjacent to the movement, is one of only three van der Rohe-designed homes in the U.S.

The exhibit explores the influence of Bauhaus through photographs, design pieces, and documents and encourages people to rethink and reimagine the objects around them. There will be events throughout March and April exploring the influence of Bauhaus, such as tours of the McCormick House outlining the Bauhaus influence in the design, as well as lectures and workshops.

This year’s annual museum annual fundraiser is themed after the exhibition. “Soiree 2019: Bauhaus 100” will be held on Sat. April 27 at the museum. The event will include cocktails, a multi-course dinner, entertainment, and live and silent auctions, including Bauhaus artwork by new and established artists. During the evening, the museum will unveil “Parallel Perspectives,”,a light and color installation in the McCormick House.

The exhibit is open through April 20. More information about the exhibition and the soiree can be found at the museum’s website, www. Elmhurstartmuseum.org.

Having a world-class museum in our city is one of the many ways that Elmhurst is a unique and vibrant place to live. To find out more, call us at (630) 441-5570 or reach out through our website, www.gmregroup.com.


School boundary changes begin to take shape

by Thomas Makinney

Hawthorne Elementary School

Jackson Elementary School

With the passage of November’s bond referendum, plans are now getting underway for upcoming changes in District 205. First up is the redrawing of three school boundaries.

Under the proposed new boundary changes, some students from areas now districted to Hawthorne and Jackson Elementary Schools will be attending Edison School. The district is trying to equalize student populations among all the schools, particularly as plans get underway for an all-day kindergarten option.

Current plans call for Jackson School to house a district-wide all-day kindergarten program; however, planning for that program can’t begin until space gets freed up. Superintendent David Moyer alluded to a potential rollout plan for the kindergarten program with the possibility of a lottery system if the demand exceeds space availability.

The proposed boundaries would affect Hawthorne students east of Kenmore Ave. who would be transferred to Edison, while families living east of York Rd. and west of Kenmore Ave. would have the option of sending their children to either Hawthorne or Edison.

Students living south of Butterfield Road on either side of Harrison St. would no longer be bussed to Jackson but would transfer to Edison. Those students would be able to choose between Bryan and Sandburg Middle Schools.

It’s important to note that anyone currently living in these impacted areas would have the choice between existing boundaries or the new ones. The new boundaries would only be mandated for people purchasing a home after June 1, 2022.

The district hopes to have a complete proposal to present to the school board before the March 18 meeting.

Other referendum developments in progress include the complete rebuilding of Field and Lincoln Elementary Schools, the two oldest schools in the district.

The $168.5 million bond issue passed last November after a three-year process of research, community input, and investigation. All changes are being made as part of the district’s master facilities plan.

Elmhurst schools are among the best in the state and the country, and they are a major reason why people move to and stay in our city. We’re proud of the loyalty and commitment residents give to improving education. For more information on living in Elmhurst, give us a call at (630) 441-5570 or reach out through our website, www.gmregroup.com.


Edison Elementary School

Elmhurst Continues to Attract New Developments, Retailers

by Thomas Makinney

The booming real estate trend in Elmhurst is showing no signs of slowing down, and that is partly due to the vibrant and bustling downtown, which is seeing a virtual renaissance of multi-resident units close to the action.

Mayor Steve Morley made his annual State of the City address recently and addressed the number of residential units that are popping up in the downtown area as well as the planned replacement of the Metra train station.

The downtown will see three large development projects in the next two years—a six-story high-end apartment complex at Addison and First Streets, a luxury apartment complex at Addison and Second Streets, and a 23-unit condo development at the long-vacant site at Cottage Hill and Park Avenues.

Morley was quick to point out that the city has been working with consultants to ensure that the growth isn’t too fast or large for the city’s infrastructure to handle. Experts believe that the city can actually accommodate double the amount of what is being built. Given the two-year timeframe for the three large developments, the city is confident that the absorption will be more gradual than it might appear.

The developments are likely to appeal to young professionals who commute to Chicago and retirees/empty nesters who want to downsize but stay in Elmhurst.

In other good news for the city’s real estate, the building department issued 97 new home permits in 2018, which is four times more than last year, and more than 3,000 overall permits.

Morley also announced that Metra station has obtained $16.4 million for improvements, and he said he was confident they would reach the $18 million mark. The train station is the busiest stop on the Union Pacific West Line, however, having been built in the 1960s, it has become outdated in terms of services it can offer. It also has accessibility issues, a crumbling infrastructure, and heavy congestion in the drop-off lanes.

Here at Gracik-Makinney, we’re thrilled to see the market continue to boom with people who recognize what we’ve always known: Elmhurst truly has something for everyone. It’s the best of big city living in a small town. Reach out to us to find out more. Call (630) 441-5570 or visit our website, www.gmregroup.com.





Chicago Ranks at Top of List of Best Cities in the World and the U.S.

by Thomas Makinney

Congratulations to our eastern neighbor Chicago, the city of big shoulders, which was recently recognized as the seventh best city in the world and the second best city in the U.S.!

Resonance Consultancy, a global advisor for tourism, real estate, and economic development, ranked cities across the world and the U.S. as a way to help cities understand their strengths and gaps. The U.S. survey looked at housing affordability, job opportunities, diversity, economic prosperity, art scene, culture, restaurants, and nightlife.

Chicago has an impressive amount of museums, national teams in every major sport, vibrant neighborhoods, two airports, and a variety of public transportation. It also boasts impressive higher education institutions, an enormous convention center, and world-renown architecture.

The city came in second (to New York) in U.S. cities for programming (shopping, nightlife, culinary, and culture). In global rankings, it finished sixth in the product category (infrastructure) and ranked #22 in the world for its food scene.

The top 10 U.S. cities are ranked as: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego, Houston, Miami, Seattle, and Boston.

The top cities in the world are listed as: London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Barcelona, Moscow, Chicago, Singapore, Dubai, and San Francisco.


Elmhurst’s proximity to Chicago (15 miles as the crow flies and a variety of highways and public transit options, including a direct Metra train line) makes it the perfect community for people attracted to the vibrant culture and job opportunities of the city but who also want a more suburban lifestyle with good schools, parks, and amenities.


Living in Elmhurst means easy access to the vibrant city scene of Chicago. We’re proud of both cities. To find out more about what makes living in our area so remarkable, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit us at www.gmregroup.com.

Portillo’s Awarded Best Fast-Casual Restaurant in the U.S.

by Thomas Makinney

What started with a little hot dog stand in Villa Park is now recognized as THE best fast-casual dining spot in the U.S.

TripAdvisor.com just awarded their annual Travelers’ Choice awards for restaurants, and Portillo’s came out on top. The awards honored 75 eateries across the country in the categories of fine dining, everyday dining (great meals for any occasion), and fast casual (high-quality meals at great value served quickly).

Whether it’s the Italian beef, the chocolate shakes, or the classic hot dog (all-beef Vienna hot dog on a poppy seed bun, topped with mustard, relish, freshly chopped onions, sliced red tomatoes, kosher pickle slice, celery salt, and slightly spicy sport peppers, and NO ketchup), Portillo’s fans are devoted and legendary.

Started in 1963 by Dick Portillo, the first Portillo’s was a trailer parked in the parking lot of a Villa Park discount store. It now boasts 57 restaurants in seven states in the U.S. It offers catering and ships nationwide.

TripAdvisor ranked restaurants based on quantity and quality of reviews over a one-year timeframe.

Three other Chicago restaurants were recognized in the list. In the everyday dining category, The Purple Pig came in 15th place; while in fine dining, Alinea placed 19th and Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf rounded out that category in 25th place.

Portillos is followed on the top 10 fast-casual dining list by Earl of Sandwich, Shake Shack, Blaze Pizza, In-N-Out Burger, The Taco Stand, Five Guys, Super Duper Burgers, Tacos el Gordo, and Torchy’s Tacos.

You can see the full list here: https://www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice-Restaurants-cFastCasual

Here at Gracik Makinney, we’ll be celebrating with a classic hot dog, a side of crinkle fries, and a chocolate cake shake. To find out more about living in our area, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit www.gmregroup.com.


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 169