House hunters searching for properties are more interested in living in walkable communities like Wheaton.
A growing real estate trend is for homebuyers to seek out those communities with vibrant downtown areas with shops, restaurants and public transportation, according to RE/MAX.
"We are seeing many people returning to the suburbs after having lived in Chicago as young adults. In the city, they could walk to the El and restaurants," Carrie Kenna, a RE/MAX agent serving the Western suburbs, including Clarendon Hills said in a news release. "When they come back to the suburbs, they are looking for the same convenience. They want to be able to walk to public transportation and restaurants."
Public transportation is important to homebuyers, according to RE/MAX. Residents want the ease of walking from their homes to the train station and commuting downtown by Metra. Even communities with smaller downtowns can garner more interest in the homes located near them.
RE/MAX cited a study conducted last year by the Brookings Institute. The study looked specifically at neighborhoods in the Washington D.C. area. It defined walkable neighborhoods as those allowing residents to meet all their daily needs by walking, biking or taking public transportation. The more walkable a community was rated, the higher the price per square foot.
Businesses also benefit from and help reinforce residents desire to live near downtowns, according to Kenna.
“Greater population density in and around downtowns is good for the business community, so new restaurants and other businesses will continue to pop up. And that can make the downtown even more attractive as a place to live,” she said.
The City of Wheaton is in the middle of its work with consultants from Design Workshop to create a long term vision for downtown Wheaton. Last month, they shared a vision with the city that focuses on leveraging public improvements to elevate it in the suburban market and pursuing new development south of the train tracks.
The city and consultants will also host a public open house to share ideas for the future of downtown Wheaton on Thursday, Feb. 28.