local info

My Favorite OPRF Season of the Year

Who doesn’t love summer in OPRF!?!?  The pools… the farmer’s market donuts… the green parks… AND who doesn’t love spring?!?!!  The flowering trees… the farmer’s market donuts… the anticipation of summer… AND! ... but for the lack of donuts, who doesn’t even have a love for winter in OPRF?!?!?  The holiday lights… the snowy nights…

 

But really… my favorite season of the year in OPRF is… Marching Band Season!!  Yes!  Ever since I was a kid!  I was very young when my family lived at 324 N. Elmwood Ave in Oak Park.  To this day one of my most earliest of all memories is running to the front screen door on a warm (can’t remember if it was fall or spring) afternoon because I could hear them!!  They were coming!!!  See… back in those days (early ‘70’s) the Oak Park & River Forest High School Marching Band would actually practice and march down the streets of the village around the high school.  It was like my own little parade a couple afternoons a week! It was awesome!!

 

I don’t think you will see the same parading down the streets from today’s OPRFHS Marching Huskies but if you are ever able to get to a home football game or even just a late afternoon rehearsal… you can see and hear for yourself the awesomeness that is this marching band.  As Ken Trainor of the Wednesday Journal so unbelievably asked himself in his October 2017 article, “An Audience of One in the Late Afternoon” (link), you will ask yourself the same… “These are high-school kids?”

 

Disclaimer – I am biased toward the OPRFHS Marching Huskies because I currently have a junior alto sax and a freshman front-line marching in this band and my oldest was a trumpet marching all 4 years before graduating in 2017.  I have had the privilege of being one of this bands photographers since 2013. You can see the band rehearse most Mondays and Wednesday-Fridays after school at the practice field near the tennis courts at Linden and Erie.  August – mid-October.  This isn’t just a football game playing band… this is a serious competition marching band traveling the state performing their show. GO Marching Huskies!!

Downsizing “from” Oak Park & River Forest “to” Oak Park & River Forest!


There are many reasons you may be thinking of down-sizing from one home to another. And to do so you don’t need to leave the beautiful area of Oak Park/River Forest! Now… some may say, “You don’t get it, Steve, it is time for us to get out of here!” OK… well for you snowbirds, that may be a different story. But, I meet many people over the course of the year that want to talk to me about down-sizing from their current large home, townhouse or condo to move into something smaller, less expensive and maybe even more maintenance free… right here in the village.

Here, I am going to share with you some of the questions or issues that arise in these conversations. This is just an outline of factors. There is a whole discussion that goes beyond what you read here. But if my article can help spark the dialogue … then here you go.

  1. “I want to downsize but still need a good amount of space. Can I get that here in OPRF?” – You may be getting ready to move out of your 3200 sq. ft. center entrance colonial in the NW corner of Oak Park and want smaller but not too small. Sure you can get the space. Our area has a good number of condo buildings with larger units in them. However, instead of a 2 bedroom condo, look for condos that offer 3 bedrooms! That 3rd bedroom doubles as a spare room for guests and as an office or a TV room. If stairs are not an issue at this point, we have many townhouse complexes with the space you need. A number of the townhouse complexes are 3-4 stories tall and that bonus space is all the way at the top – the penthouse, if you will. Spacious Oak Park condos or townhouses come in all price ranges from the upper $200k to the luxurious mid-$600k range.

  2. “Can I find attached units (condos, townhouses, etc.) with outdoor space?”- You certainly can! But how much space are you expecting? Full yard? Not likely, but you were probably looking for less maintenance anyway. A place for a small 4x5 ft garden patch is possible and delightfully manageable. For instance, take a look when driving around town. See these newer townhouse complexes built in the last 10-15 years? Most of the units have a little pad or patch of space right at the front door entrance.  

    Take 101 N. Euclid – “the Euclid Terraces” - as an example. Many of these residents have actually finished their small front patches of land into nice patios large enough to enjoy morning coffee for two to four people around a small table. For the townhomes that are in a row… does the end unit have a semblance of a yard? Many of these yards may look to be common space but they could actually belong to a specific unit. Often, the end unit has the right of use or may even own the land. Case in point, the 413 Wisconsin unit D currently on the market has a typical front deck area. Additionally, it has a 1st level concrete pad off the garage entry just for a grill. The pad even has an awning over it to protect you from the elements!

  3. “I need a building with an elevator and I really don’t feel like there are many options here in OPRF. Is this true?” - Well, we have basically three types of condo building in the area. 1) Vintage - I can count on one hand the number of vintage buildings that have elevators in them. The 333 S. Oak Park Ave and that portion of the Decker Building that is on Pleasant are the only two that immediately come to mind. 2) 50’s or 60’s or 70’s era buildings. They may not be the prettiest buildings in town but they have elevators… many have laundry facilities on the same floor as the unit (i.e. 221 N. Kenilworth) and many have parking spaces most of them “covered” but not a garage. And finally, 3) newer construction… these most definitely have elevators, and there are plenty of new construction condos being developed in Oak Park, especially within walking distance of downtown restaurants, shops, and transportation.

  4. “I’m not staying here! Taxes and assessments are too high!” I understand the frustration, but take some time to research and compare. Many empty nesters start their downsizing journey looking towards the city. You may find a beautiful 1 bedroom condo in the “Loop” in the $400k range with a view of the lake and so much more!! (i.e. 360 E. Randolph) The taxes may look extremely attractive too. ONLY $4900 a year! But what are the assessments? Ah…. now we see. Assessments are over $750 a month! Compare that to a similar 2 bedroom condo in newer construction or a renovated building here in OPRF. The overall “cost savings” end up being negligible and you are likely to gain so much more in space and convenience in Oak Park.

This next step in your life is dictated largely by how you plan to spend your leisure time. Think about the uses you anticipate for the spaces in your future home. Think about the things you can live with and the things you can’t live without. I guarantee you, there is a place for you to call home again in Oak Park & River Forest.

Two Steves // One Community

Having been a realtor for the last two decades, I have seen my share of bizarre situations, odd coincidences, and shocking discoveries. Nothing tends to surprise me anymore. Also, for the last two decades, I have spent my days, nights, and weekends in and around Oak Park and River Forest. You have welcomed me into your homes, and have seen me at local events and immersed in the community that I both work and live in.

So you can imagine my confusion as the discovery of the following unfolds...

Lo and behold, there are two of us with a mere letter distinguishing us from having the same moniker and working the same "local beat" in Oak Park. 

Hold onto your hats, friends....I am not the talented Steve Schering, Pioneer Press & Chicago Tribune reporter… I am Steve Scheuring, Realtor and Local OPRF Expert.

Don't get me wrong! I want to thank all of you who feel I am the ever so dedicated reporter and eloquent writer, Steve Schering.  But alas… I am not. 

I like to think (hope) I am good at a few things… father, husband, brother, son and the agent helping you move in, out, and around the local area.  But writing?... I am okay, but as this blog can attest, not as good as Steve Schering!!! There isn’t a spell check program powerful enough. 

 Steve Schering, the reporter, has been covering local stories for a number of years. But recently a large amount of my very own friends, clients and even family... (yes… my own family!)… have thought that all of those articles were by me. If any of them knew me well enough, they would be able to distinguish me from my writing twin based on sheer punctuation alone!!! (!!!!!!!)

 And to confuse things even more… Steve Schering himself is a photographer and I am as well!  Still, my photography centers on specialized real estate photography. I am also one of many volunteer photographers for the OPRF Marching Huskies and the occasional pro-bono photographer for other local school groups. 

Recently, Steve and I met face-to-face at an OPRF high school football game. He's a fantastic individual. I had to resist the urge to ask for a selfie. I want to thank Steve Schering, the reporter, for allowing me to put this post out there.  May we continue to co-exist as separate individuals in this wonderful community. Thanks, Steve!

-From Steve.

OPRF - The Scoop on Schools

How do you compare the Oak Park and River Forest public school systems and some of the private programs within the surrounding communities? 

Remember, I attended some of these schools growing up in the OPRF area. I also have sent my own kids into these same local schools. From personal experience, I attended Pilgrim Nursery School, Beye School Kindergarten, St. Giles 1st-8th, and St. Ignatius College Prep for high school. My daughters and son have attended First United Church Nursery School (an awesome experience), Oak Park's Holmes Elementary, and now I have one at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School, one at Oak Park & River Forest High School, and one off to college at Tulane!!!

Oak Park

Oak Park might not rank as high for their public school system as River Forest, but I feel Oak Park offers the most complete package to serve a family from play school, preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and on to high school.

Several years ago, Oak Park completed a $60 million physical and curriculum upgrade of its schools. The public elementary and middle schools are divided into districts. This means where you live decides what schools you will attend and there are rarely any exceptions. Some of the schools score or rate better than others so obviously this translates into some districts being more desirable to live in than others. When I take you for your first tour of Oak Park and to look at some homes we can discuss this at length at that time. This district map will help you visualize the areas in Oak Park as they pertain to school districts.

My wife, Julie, and I have been very impressed with District 97. It is a fantastic school system. 


River Forest

The River Forest public school system is small and very successful in providing a top notch education and producing some impressive scores and ratings. At the time I am writing this - the River Forest public middle school (Roosevelt) ranks #3 in the state. River Forest (as well as Oak Park) also has a number of outstanding private schools like Montessori programs (Keystone, Alcuin, Intercultural). Keep in mind River Forest is a more expensive market to purchase in than Oak Park. Their excellent school system is one of the reasons why..


Elmwood Park

The Elmwood Park school system is nothing to overlook as it is currently ahead of state and national averages. The system consists of two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. The website link below for Elmwood Park district 401 is very comprehensive!


Oak Park, River Forest, and Elmwood Park School Links

    •    Oak Park Public Schools
    •    River Forest Public Schools
    •    Oak Park/River Forest Public High School
    •    Fenwick High School in Oak Park
    •    Trinity High School in River Forest (all female)
    •    St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago
    •    Elmwood Park Public Schools
    •    St. Vincent Ferrer Elementary School, River Forest
    •    St. Luke Elementary School, River Forest
    •    St. Giles Elementary School, Oak Park
    •    Ascension Elementary School, Oak Park
    •    Alcuin Montessori, Oak Park
    •    Keystone Montessori, River Forest
    •    West Suburban Montessori, Oak Park
    •    Intercultural Montessori Language School, Oak Park

Local Universities

    •   Dominican University
    •   Concordia University

Local Things To Do!

An Abundance of Activities In and Around the Oak Park & River Forest Area

Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park, Elmwood Park...So Much To Offer!

There is plenty to do in the Chicagoland area and below I have included some links to our most popular attractions. Within the our local community, there is also an abundance of events and activities to do in and around the Oak Park/River Forest area.

 

That reason alone is why many people move here. In a matter of minutes, you can be in downtown Chicago but if you want a little quaint village evening with excellent dining, a movie, a walk through our historic districts… there is no place like Oak Park River Forest.

 

Below are my favorite local activities & seasonal highlights: