By Lisa Skolnik | April 1, 2010 | Lifestyle
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
New Trier Township High School is the jewel in the crown of this community, so many residents were stunned when a February referendum to approve a sweeping, $174 million improvement project for the school was nixed by 62 percent of voters. Of course, times are tough, and the project would have raised taxes—we hear supporters are now working on less-pricey renovation plans.
Predictably, the median price of a single-family home dropped from around $1.2 million at the start of 2007 to just shy of $700,000 at the beginning of 2010, according to Prudential Rubloff’s Premier Market Watch Report, and the length of time a house is on the market almost tripled from “about 90 days before the crash to 266 days” in February, according to big-ticket broker Taylor Lindstrom. If you can afford it, now is the time to buy: At press time, active listings ranged from about $200,000 to a reduced $4.495 million for a lakefront estate (see Best Addresses).
SUCH A DEAL
Two “pre-crash” luxury projects that have yet to sell out are sporting brand new, rock-bottom prices. The reduced Mallinckrodt in the Park (1041 Ridge Road) is a Romanesque brick-andlimestone stunner built in 1918 as a convent and a college on a 14-acre park. Converted into 81 condos for the empty-nester crowd (at least one person on the deed must be 62), at press time the building still had 32 units left with one 2,950-square-foot penthouse taking a 50 percent drop to $750,000 and the rest of the units discounted 30 to 40 percent (visit mallinpark.com or contact agent Ted Pickus, 847-256-3036). Seven homes are left at Enclave at Sheridan Pointe, a 15-house development at Sheridan Road and Maple Avenue, just a block from the lake, boasting oversized lots and ranging from 3,000 square feet (four bedrooms/3.5 baths) to 4,000 (5–6 bedrooms/4.5 baths). Prices have dropped 35 percent to under $1.07 million (visit redsealhomes.com or contact agent Josh Weisbart, 847-417-3056).
LAKE VIEWS RULE
Thanks to Wilmette’s excellent and extensive park system, lake views are sought after, yet surprisingly rare. Brokers universally say Wilmette has fewer than two dozen homes with riparian rights, and most are along a three-block stretch of Michigan Avenue. One English country charmer on that stretch, offering a lot just under an acre and with a 650-foot-wide private beach, was just reduced from $4.795 to $4.495 million, but also sports a $64,138 tax bill (contact agent Claire Sucsy, 847- 425-3737). And on Sheridan Road across the street from the Baha’i temple, there’s a vacant lakefront lot owned by former Senate candidate Jack Ryan, who tore down a house on the lot in 2006, but later withdrew a permit to build a new one.
Homes with wide lots and long setbacks are the next best thing to lakeside land and Chestnut Avenue has these qualities in spades. It also heads “the Cage,” an area nicknamed for Chestnut and three contiguous avenues—Ashland, Greenwood and Elmwood—directly to the south that comprise one of Wilmette’s most prestigious neighborhoods (home, until recently, to Tony Rezko). Just as prestigious is Indian Hill Estates in central Wilmette, with its winding streets and slightly smaller yet still stunning homes. A step down for up-andcomers in the younger set is Kenilworth Gardens and neighboring Thornwood Park on Wilmette’s northern border, but many say good old southeast Wilmette is pretty wonderful.
Foregoing the biggest lots and flashiest houses, the close-knit, well-liked and understated Ricketts brothers (of Chicago Cubs fame) put down roots on the same block in southeast Wilmette. Last year, older brother Tom did a respectful renovation of a stately old colonial on the southeast corner of the block and this year, the younger Todd moved into a newly finished, very sustainable and gracefully sleek home—complete with a high-performance skin, geothermal heating and cooling and a green roof designed by star architect Dirk Denison—on the northwest corner.
SHARON FRIEDMAN, Coldwell Banker Winnetka South (847-441-1036; sharonfriedman.com)
SUE HERTZBERG, Coldwell Banker Winnetka North (847-826-5206; suehertzberg.com)
TAYLOR LINDSTROM, Prudential Rubloff Properties (847-404-8900; taylorlindstrom.com)
BARBARA SHIELDS, @properties (312-613- 9802; shieldsandbaylor.com)
They’re so good that many move here for this reason alone. Public school options include four for K–4 and one each for K–5, 5–6, 6–8 and 7–8; and New Trier Township High School, known for its excellence in academics and extracurricular activities, plus generous expenditure per student; a range of private picks includes Loyola Academy, Regina Dominican High School and Baker Demonstration School.
The town claims seven commercial districts, including the Mediterranean-inspired open-air Plaza del Lago mall, which is home to the two best fashion boutiques in town, Vibrato and La Colonna. But a true treasure is the mini “antique row” on Ridge Road, where you can find Josie’s (545 Ridge Road) and the sprawling Heritage Trail Mall (410 Ridge Road; heritagetrailmall.com).
DRINKING AND DINING
Options have grown in the past few years thanks to a 2005 revision in the village’s liquor ordinance—a smart move since “it’s kept people in the neighborhood and brought others in,” says Village Board president Chris Canning. Newish hot spots include The Bottle Shop (1138 Central Ave.), Depot Nuevo (1139 Wilmette Ave.), Gilson’s (1126 Central Ave.) and Olive Oil (1154 Central Ave.).
Two of Chicago’s most legendary locations for comfort food can be found here: Homer’s Homemade Gourmet Ice Cream (1237 Green Bay Road) has been named one of the top 10 ice cream shops in the country by Bon Appétit magazine and the block-long lines perennially outside The Original Pancake House (153 Green Bay Road) attest to its iconic stature. But equally important to insiders is the town’s beloved greasy spoon, Chuck Wagon (1120 Central Ave.).
Cheryl Berman, Blair Kamin, Dennis Chookaszian, Hamilton Chang, Todd Ricketts, Tom Ricketts, Lester Crown, Brant Miller, Susan Noyes, Jennifer Woolford, Mark Falanga, Joanie Bayhack, Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano, Meredith and Jonathan Sinclair, Linda MacLennan
photograph courtesy of mallinckrodt in the park