Morningside Square Deepens Roots in Downers Grove

By David Mack

When Barry Miller moves into Morningside Square in Downers Grove, the view from his condo will remind him of his youth.

“The condo we bought looks out on Lincoln School, where both my father and I went to school,” said Miller, who attended school there in the 1950s and the senior Miller a couple of decades earlier. The old schoolhouse has been converted to a park district facility and is now called Lincoln Center.

Miller is actually a third generation Downers denizen, his grandfather having arrived in town around 1910, give or take a few years. Other than a brief period in the 1970s, when he and his spouse, Julia, moved to Iowa City, Miller has lived in Downers Grove all his life, the last 20 years in a home in which the couple raised their two now-grown children.

The Millers will soon place their old house on the market in preparation for the summer move to Morningside, which they first learned about through a brochure a friend gave Julia. The couple’s interests were changing and a condominium offered the easier, maintenance-free approach to life that the couple wanted.

“The more we looked at the brochure, the more we decided this was the time and the place,” said Miller, who has reduced his work schedule at Argonne National Laboratory to three days a week.

Morningside Square has an advantage over other projects. It’s within walking distance of the local establishments and amenities they frequent: the library, church, movie theater, Metra station, restaurants, boutique shopping and the ubiquitous Starbucks. And, more importantly, it’s also closer to their friends.

“We wanted a place where we didn’t have to drive anywhere and we expect to be driving a lot less in the future,” said a pleased Miller, who added, “It has everything in it that we wanted.”

Morningside Square, which also overlooks Centennial Park, will rise five stories.
“We modeled the building after another building downtown,” said David Strosberg, president of Morningside Development, “so it blends in better with the local architecture. It’s an all brick and stone exterior. We’ve had a lot of compliments.”

The top four floors will contain the 40 residences, which come in six plans.
All units are 2-bedroom, 2-bath designs and the larger ones include family rooms and eat-in breakfast rooms. Square footage varies from 1,251 to 1,918. Base pricing ranges from $210,900 to $371,900, which includes one parking space in the heated ground- level garage.

Standard features include 9-foot ceilings, gas fireplaces, ceramic tile foyers, six-panel doors, individually controlled heating and cooling and an appliance package of refrigerator, range, dishwasher and microwave oven. Every residence also has balcony off the living room, family room or kitchen, depending on the unit. All rooms are equipped with fire sprinklers.

Buyers can order upgraded floor coverings, counter tops, cabinetry and light fixtures. They also can choose to acquire additional indoor parking spaces at $19,500 each, or outdoor slots for $6,000.

The Millers picked a 1,918-square-foot unit on the third floor. They upgraded to hardwood floors everywhere except the bedrooms and added a few ceiling fans, a whirlpool tub and higher quality cabinets. The dining room area will be enclosed and a door added so they can convert the space to another use.

“I think it will be a library/den,” said Miller, who added that because the living room is so large, they’ll use furniture to partition it into something that looks like two rooms, one of which will serve as the dining space.

The couple’s approximate cost, including an extra indoor parking space, was $355,000. Property taxes are being estimated at two percent of sales price. The condo association’s monthly assessment is initially scheduled to run from $93 to $166 depending on unit value.

There are several large strip shopping malls nearby, to complement the retail venues downtown, south on Main Street at 63rd and 75th streets, just minutes by car.

Downers Grove, founded in 1832, is estimated to have a population of 49,215, according to Ken Rathje, director of community development. The projected figure for the year 2010 is 55,900.

Major events on the city’s activity calendar include the annual Downers Grove Heritage Festival, an early summer street fair that features entertainment, fireworks, food, carnival and games for kids.

There’s also the winter Ice Sculpture Festival, hosted downtown by the local visitors bureau, and the annual Sports Grand Prix, held in August and featuring bicycle and in-line skate racing.

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