Chicago's best dog parks

1.jpg

Those who know me personally know that I am a very devoted owner of two beautiful yellow labs, Mavis Belle and Mabel Mae. One of my favorite things to do in the summer is take the dogs on a long walk and end up at any number of local dog parks. It’s such a great way to enjoy our beautiful city! Below is a list of our favorite dog parks organized by neighborhood. Now who’s ready for some summer weather?!

LINCOLN PARK
Belmont Harbor Dog Beach
N Lake Shore Dr & Lake Shore Drive Dr
This small enclosed area of beach is just enough space to let your pup go hog wild in the water! A perfect summertime destination.

LAKEVIEW/WRIGLEYVILLE
Wiggly Field Dog Friendly Area
2645 N Sheffield Ave
Technically called Noethling Playlot Park, this aptly-named dog park is actually Chicago’s first! Covered in asphalt and pea gravel, this park is perfect for running around or enjoying the summertime water features.

WICKER PARK
Wicker Dog Friendly Area
1425 N Damen Ave

What this park doesn’t have in size it has in community following--so go at an off time or it can get crowded. This park is covered in asphalt and pea gravel and also features dog-friendly drinking fountains.

RIVER NORTH
Larrabee Dog Park
652 N Larrabee St

A trip is worth it for the views of the river!

LAKESHORE EAST
Lakeshore East Dog Park
450 E Benton Pl

A great option for a downtown-dwelling pup, this park is covered in turf and sidewalks and also features water activities in the summer and dog-friendly drinking fountains.

WEST LOOP
Skinner Bark Park
1331 W Adams St

I love this park so much! Founded in 2014, this park is maintained by a community group that also puts on dog and dog-owner oriented events. The surface is a combination of turg, pea gravel and concrete.

Bartelme Dog Friendly Area
115 S Sangamon St
This park has something for everyone with its location right in the heart of West Loop. Just outside the park there are often food trucks and love music, making it the perfect destination for a summer evening.

SOUTH LOOP
Fred Anderson Dog Park
1629 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60616

Built in 2014, this dog park features interactive structures for climbing and a new kind of fun for dogs. I also love this park because there are separate areas for large and small pups.


Success Story: Katia

miguel-angel-sanz-1239417-unsplash.jpg

Selling real estate from afar can be a tricky business, which is part of the reason I love to take on these sorts of challenges for clients. Katia was living abroad when she contacted me to sell her Gold Coast property, so I took it upon myself to organize everything that needed to get done prior to listing. It gives me such pleasure to ease my client’s minds, and make the process as easy as possible. Thank you for trusting me, Katia! It was such a pleasure working together.

How did you find Millie?
While I’ve spent most of my life as a US resident living in Chicago, at the time I was looking to sell my penthouse on Michigan Ave, I was living in London. When I moved back to the US I wanted to live in California, so I decided to sell. My friend recommended two agents in Chicago, and Millie was one of them. I checked out Millie’s website, we connected, and it was a wonderful journey after that.

What do you think sets Millie apart from other brokers?
A lot. Working with Millie was such a pleasant experience. I granted her access to see the place since I was remote. At that point she took the initiative to address what needed to be fixed prior to listing. She recommended decluttering and organizing, and refreshing the terrace, and then went ahead a managed all the necessary vendors. It was so easy for me! With my distance from Chicago, she was just perfect. Her extremely enthusiastic and energetic attitude made me feel so calm throughout the process.

What was your favorite part of working together?
I work in real estate rebuilding houses all over the world, so I’ve worked with a lot of agents. Most of the other agents I’ve worked with do their work, but it is limited to certain things. Millie was so much more, and I really liked that about her. My place didn’t sit for more than two months, so it was a very quick sale compared to the rest of the luxury market. Millie also happens to be a very nice person with good energy.

Would you recommend Millie to a friend?
Of course! Not only did Millie sell my property quickly, but she made the whole process carefree for me. Even when it came time for me to move out, Millie volunteered to oversee the whole process. When you want to sell, you want to sell quickly, and she is a complete solution. I honestly can’t imagine anyone better.

Chicago’s most beautiful blocks: Lakeview edition

Alta_Vista_1.JPG

This month we are continuing our tour of Chicago’s most beautiful blocks with a look at Lakeview. I love Lakeview for how different each area feels--from the grandeur of East Lakeview, to the amazing shopping along Southport, to the great restaurants and fun vibe along Broadway. And of course there are some very beautiful residential blocks as well. Here are my favorites:

Alta Vista Terrace District: Now this might be my very favorite block! Running north from Grace to Byron, this is a historic district of 40 row homes built in 1904 by Samuel Gross. Gross was a Chicago real estate developer that traveled to Europe, where he was inspired by the classic row houses of London. There are 20 different exterior styles lining each side of the block, with the houses paired off so that houses directly across the street match in style. I absolutely love this street because I feel transported in time and space whenever I walk by. A true gem!

3400-3700 Bosworth: I love this street for its varied architecture of mostly single family homes. It’s a great mix of modern and traditional, that come together to create the perfect “neighborhood within the city” vibe.

1300 block of Newport: This block is lined with gray stones impeccably restored to their original beauty. Parkways filled with large trees create a beautiful green canopy. I also love the location of this block, so close to everything on Southport, but far enough to maintain a quiet and quaint atmosphere.

3700 blocks of Greenview, Janssen + Wayne: These streets also have a great mix of thoughtful single family home architecture, and ample green space. Mature trees and well-manicured lawns make these stretches perfect destinations for a spring walk around the neighborhood.

As I mentioned in last month’s post, due to popular demand, we are thinking about hosting a fun trolley tour of the most beautiful areas of the city. Would you like to attend? Sign up below to stay in touch as plans progress.

Name *
Name

Chicagoans, here’s my best advice for spring market prep

492A7862 copy.jpg

Yes, the spring market is upon us, but it is not too late to jump in head first! In years past, the activity of the spring market in Chicago ran through May, with a peak around March. For buyers, it is important to be prepared for a competitive field, and to do your homework upfront. For sellers, first impressions are everything, especially if you are hoping your home sells quickly.

Here is my best advice for making the most of the spring market this year for both buyers and sellers--and remember, time is of the essence!

Buyers:

  • Pre-approval is crucial: Obtaining pre-approval is my number one tip for buyers. It is a fast and relatively painless process, the outcome of which is a pre-approval letter from your lender. Most sellers will ask to see a pre-approval letter with an offer.

  • Attend open houses: Open houses are a great way to educate yourself on the different neighborhoods of the city, and the value of property based on location. Setup your weekends so that you attend three or four open houses per neighborhood until you’ve covered your desired areas.

  • Research schools: If you have kids, your home search may be based on the boundaries of a particular school, so up-to-date information is crucial! The CPS School Locator page is a useful page to check boundaries based on address, as well as school rankings. I also have a great foundation of information on Chicago’s schools on my website.

Sellers:

  • Paint! There is nothing that makes a home feel fresher than a new coat of neutral paint. My favorite color combinations include:

    • Benjamin Moore Pale Oak in low lustre finish for the walls, and Decorator’s White in satin finish for the trim

    • Benjamin Moore Sea Pearl in low lustre finish for the walls. and Chantilly Lace in satin finish for the trim

  • Revive your landscape: Make sure that buyer’s first view of your home is clean and vibrant. Clear out any dead plants from the winter, and add a colorful variety of spring flowers. My favorite garden shop is Gethsemane Garden Center in Andersonville.

  • Spring clean: When selling a home, less really is more when it comes to decor. Go through every room in your home and donate whatever feels like “extra.” The Salvation Army on Clybourn just south of Ashland is a great place to drop off.

I am always here as a resource for support and advice. Please contact me directly with further questions, I know each buyer and each property is unique!

Success Story: Chris

brad-knight-780006-unsplash.jpg

Chris and I are kindred spirits in many ways, but mostly because we both are passionate dog lovers. Chris’s move was prompted by her growing family of pets, so dogs are also what brought us together! I am truly touched by the words Chris spoke about me, and am so glad to have her friendship. Finding people like Chris, and helping them transition to a new home is what I love most about my job.

How did you find Millie?
Of course, everyone knows OF Millie, as her reputation precedes her all over Chicagoland. Plus I know many people who have worked with her and loved her.

What do you think sets Millie apart from other brokers?
Millie is one of the hardest working people I've ever met. As a business person, I take care of high net worth people who all work very hard, but Millie has a work ethic that would make them jealous. After working with Millie, I use her as a gage for professionalism. I’ll ask myself, “Was that Millie quality work?” She also has a magical blend of success traits such as work ethic, smarts, goal-oriented, and also kindness. She is extremely kind.

I also found that the way she handles the process is unique. She shares as much information with her clients as possible, and also has the best connections. You are so T-ed up for success if you listen to her. She also does what she says she is going to do. There is a trust factor there that is at the top of the trust scale. She said, “The place will look better if we do X, and I have a guy. Or, I will go find a guy.”

And she was right—my place looked so good by the time Millie was finished that I wanted to buy my own place again. We used such high-quality finishes because Millie knows what works. I felt so proud of the place, and felt confident that it would sell.

What was your favorite part of working together?
Millie adds good karma vibes to whatever she touches. She’s such a good person and it carries over into her work. I really believe that. For example, she looked at a picture of my dog, who had just passed away. She started crying with me in that moment. She’s the real deal. When you work with Millie, you have a partner who will work with you until you achieve your goal.

Did you use any of her recommended vendors?
I did everything she told me to do. Everyone she recommended was outstanding, and a specialist in their respective field.

Would you recommend Millie to a friend?
I would recommend her to anyone who is looking for a good experience, and for someone to restore their faith in a transaction like this. Millie keeps everything calm. She's not trying to agitate people to seek an outcome. She's trying to get you to a good end. That's her vibe and you can't fake that.


The four best indoor plants for winter

Do you ever walk into a shop and feel instantly connected to the owner? This happened to me the second I walked into Bunches, a local florist in Lincoln Park. The most beautiful and unique flowers I’ve ever seen transported me to another land! And then after meeting Marc, the owner, I knew I’d found my new favorite place to shop! Marc is a wealth of knowledge and shared with me some fascinating and very usable advice around all things flowers!

What do you recommend for an easy wintertime plant?
Succulents are a great option for people looking for something you don't see in an office lobby. They work really well in an any sort of pot, or a terrarium. They are very low maintenance and add a very cool, modern spark of green.

Another plant is Pilea, nicknamed the friendship plant because it is very easy to share a small shoot with a friend that will then grow into a new plant. These guys are adorable little plants and very easy to care for.

In Wintertime we sell a lot of bulb flowers like tulips, hyacinth, and daffodils. My word of caution here is that a hot house is the enemy of these plants! They like it cool! We will set them clay or ceramic pots and cover the top with moss for a very cute presentation.

Zamioculcas Zamiifolia or Z Z Plants are one last favorite for winter. They require very, very little water, light, or maintenance, and are nearly foolproof plants.


Marc, can you put this great debate to rest: What is the best way to water an orchid?!
Lots of people are very passionate on one side of this debate or the other. Some people swear by watering orchids with ice, while others kill every last one of their plants this way! I believe watering with ice is not a good idea for a few reasons. First, orchids don’t come into contact with temperatures this cold in nature, so the shock could kill them. Next, water left in the crown of the plant will lead to rot and death.

How to effectively water your orchid: Remove the orchid from the decorative pot it is sitting in and run water through the plastic grower’s pot. Let it drain! Also, do not remove the orchid from the plastic grower’s pot unless it is being repotted.

Do you have any cool ideas for a fresh take on Valentine’s Day?
We are not necessarily a rose-centric shop, so I tell people to think about Valentine’s Day flowers in terms of what is seasonal, and look beyond the rose! I love a lush seasonal mix with a few garden roses sprinkled throughout, or even a fun terrarium!

As a florist, my absolute favorite part of my job is creating bouquets for customers, even right in front of them! I love sharing my knowledge and building something unique before someone’s eyes.


Thank you so much, Marc! Please visit his incredible shop!

Bunches (a flower shop)
1501 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60614



Chicago's most beautiful blocks: Lincoln Park edition

Millie & John.jpg

Friends are often astounded by just how well I know the city. I tell them living here all your life and working in real estate in 30 years will do that! I really do know it down to the block—quiz me next time you see me! And, it never ceases to amaze me how different each neighborhood and even block is from one to the next. Today I am sharing what I believe to be the most beautiful blocks in Lincoln Park, where I also happen to live.

IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER, LINCOLN PARK’S MOST BEAUTIFUL BLOCKS:

2000 - 2200 Magnolia
- I LOVE parkways. They add such a nice touch of green, and set the homes back further from the street. This stretch of Magnolia has well-cared for parkways, incredible old trees, and diversified architecture though most of the homes are brick. The brick actually acts as a visual unifier, which makes the overall block that much more lovely.

2000 - 2400 Seminary - I absolutely love the mix of homes on this stretch. It was like someone had a master plan and cherry picked just the right properties to create the perfect combination of older and newer styles, modern and traditional. Many of the homes have nice front yards, and of course all have my beloved parkway!

2000 - 2200 Mohawk - Here I love the mxi of historically significant gray stones with new construction. Builders know that to build on Mohawk means thoughtful aesthetic consideration.

400 - 450 Belden - A more urban-looking street with parkways lined with beautiful, old brick pavers, I love how “Chicago-looking” this street is—I would know it was Chicago out of a million other different streets!

2100 - 2400 Cleveland - The green space along these few blocks is fantastic. For walkersby, the old trees create a perfect arched canopy over the street. For those lucky enough to live on the street, they enjoy extra long lots with larger back yards.

2400 - 2600 Lakeview - The views are what I love in this location. The mix of old co-op buildings and newer high rises like 2550 enjoy spectacular views of the park, and from the high rises—the lake! You also cannot beat the vintage charm at some of those co-op buildings.

Would you like to join me?
I had an idea, would you like to join me on a tour of the city’s most beautiful blocks? I plan to rent out a trolley on a beautiful spring or summer day and take a tour, sharing some of these blocks, along with others. If you would like to join me, please leave me your email address below so we can stay in touch as I plan out the event!

Name
Name

The latest Lincoln Yards meeting recap

Since my last post regarding Lincoln Yards, developer Sterling Bay recently met with the community to answer questions and provide updated plans for the project. As you will recall, Lincoln Yards is the projected $5 billion development that if approved will run along the river between Lincoln Park and Bucktown.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss four main issues: building height and layout, plans around green space, infrastructure improvements, and how the project would be funded. According to reports, there were many community members at the meeting both strongly for and against the project.

Building height and layout

After returning from the drawing board, Sterling Bay cut a total of about 100 stories off the taller buildings. The new version of the tallest tower is now 650 feet (down from 800), and it will also be moved further from the open space. To account for the decrease in height, the new version of the buildings are wider. To me, building height is less of an issue as you get closer to the highway, though I do understand people’s strong feelings on the issue.

Green space
According to Sarah Weidner Astheimer, a principal at the project’s landscape architecture firm, Field Operations, much of the green space design will be inspired by the industrial history of the area. For example, industrial ladles will be used as planters, designs on the pavement will look like train tracks, and slides will be made out of metal, paying home to a metal factory that once sat on the site. There will be a Great Lawn, athletic fields, and a 20,000-seat soccer auditorium.

Infrastructure improvements
Part of Sterling Bay’s presentation at the meeting was devoted to sharing their self-funded traffic study, that looked for congestion solutions around the Armitage-Ashland-Elston intersection, which the city is now reviewing. CDOT will also perform a study, but general recommendations are already being made around increasing parking, making streets pedestrian-friendly, and increasing the number and types of alternative transportation options. Specific plans to accommodate for the development include extending a number of existing roads including Dominick and North Avenue, connecting Southport to Kingsbury, and extending Armitage over the river.

Funding
It is still up for debate how the project will be funded, but the most recent suggestion is a TIF (tax increment financing district) within a 168-acre zone surrounding the development. The proposed area would run along the Chicago River between North Ave and Webster Ave, to Clybourn in the east and Elston to the west. According to the city’s Department of Planning and Development, the TIF would raise about $800 million in about 20 years.

Nine things you might not know about DePaul College Prep

438.jpg

I recently ran into my friend Mary Dempsey, who is such an incredible Chicagoan. She is currently the President of DePaul College Prep, and before that she was Commissioner for Chicago Public Library—among many other city-centric posts she has held. I was fascinated by all that she has accomplished during the high school’s short five years, so she was kind enough to share more about their mission and all they have to offer. Here are the top nine things I learned:

  1. They are an academic partners with DePaul University: This means so many great benefits for students--curriculum enhancements, faculty resources, artistic and athletic resources, and dual enrollment options. Last summer 13 juniors took advantage of the dual enrollment opportunities, earning college credit through the university for a reduced fee. Additionally, student athletes play games on the collegiate sports fields and art students perform on the collegiate stages.

  2. The school is growing quickly! Current enrollment is 500 students, and the current freshman class is double the size of last year’s graduating class.

  3. They have AP and honors classes, in addition to International Baccalaureate.

  4. Service is a huge part of the school: Every student is required to participate in at least 20 hrs of service per year.

  5. Great student to teacher ratio: Mary noted the school’s welcoming atmosphere and small student to teacher ratio of about 11:1. Everyone knows each other at school.

  6. Diversity is important: The current racial breakdown of the school proves it!

    44% white
    31% hispanic
    8% black
    8% asian
    7% multiracial

  7. They have a 100% college and university acceptance rate!

  8. Extracurriculars are popular: 88% of students participate in extracurricular activities or sports. They currently support 38 clubs, and a full range of sports.

  9. STEAM Lab is SO cool: STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math, and the Lab is a maker space where kids learn to create robotics, digital media, art and design. Students learn through hands on experimentation how to create real-world results like how to write and edit film, digital media, design a bridge, and game design.

When I spoke to Mary about her short and long-term goals for the school she said this: “ Short term, to continue pursuing excellence in academics and athletics. We have a new principal and she is deeply focused on our students, looking at their social and emotional learning, and of people of faith and service. Long terms I’d like to grow to a school of 1,000, while continuing to focus on diversity and welcoming as many different types of students as possible.”

Success Story: Jackie

matthew-hamilton-147386-unsplash.jpg

I love working with first-time buyers! It’s such a great opportunity to educate someone new to the market on the best way to buy a home. Jackie was so excited about the process, which made it all the more fun. It gives me such a thrill knowing that one of my clients will spend many happy years in a home we found together.

How did you find Millie?
I found Millie through my aunt, who has worked with Millie in the past and had a great experience.

What do you think sets Millie apart from other brokers?
Millie’s level of service and attentiveness were amazing. It was a process finding my home. I put together a list of “must haves,” and Millie didn’t veer from the list—so in the beginning we weren’t finding a lot. But, after working together for a few weeks, we identified a few places I was comfortable compromising, and from there I found my home quickly. I was honestly surprised with what I found. I didn’t realize I could have a balcony!

Millie is also so hard working and patient. She was willing to be at a showing with me at 8am on Saturday, and then drive us to the next showings from there. Some of the places we saw were extremely unimpressive, and she would share productive and helpful feedback after we left. She never pushed a sale.

What was your favorite part of working together?
Millie’s availability was amazing. She was always willing to get back to me extremely quickly—in a matter of 30 minutes my phone would be ringing.

Did you use any of her recommended vendors?
I used her recommended mortgage broker and had a great experience.

Would you recommend her to a friend?
Oh yes! 

My quick and easy CPS resource check list

3U9A0481.jpg

If you are the parent of a school-aged child living in Chicago, then you are in the middle of what can be an incredibly stressful tile—the CPS application period, running October 1 - December 14. There are endless amounts of deadlines, rules, phone numbers, and official documentation required during this time, so I put together a list of the top resources I supply my clients. 

I always say, having worked in Chicago my entire life, I know a lot of people. If you are working through the application process and run into a road block, please reach out! If I don’t know the answer, chances are I know someone who does. 

Process: 
Application process step-by-step for high school — CLICK HERE

Application process step-by-step for elementary school — CLICK HERE

Student ID #:
Required for application — CLICK HERE

School types: 
A quick breakdown of options on my website — CLICK HERE

School data: 
Search by school — CLICK HERE

Funding: 
A breakdown of each CPS school’s funding, put together by the Chicago Tribune — CLICK HERE

CPS Tiers: 
CPS Tiers were updated this year, so check which tier your property is in — CLICK HERE

Outside consultant: 
CPS GPS is a consulting group that hosts events or can be hired for individual counsel — CLICK HERE

Online application:
Go CPS — CLICK HERE

Preschool application — CLICK HERE

Three reasons your home isn't selling

492A7803.jpg

I know the feeling: you’ve listed your home and are expecting it to sell quickly…and then it doesn’t. It sits. And sits. And sits. My philosophy for all clients and all transactions is that the market will be what it will be, and it is my job to react and adjust my plans and tools accordingly. Today I am sharing my top go-to tips for making sure my clients never experience that feeling.

Reevaluate your competition
For an appraiser, a property is consider a comparable or “comp" when it was sold in the prior six months. Therefore, your property’s comps will change often. I review my listings comps every few weeks. I am looking at the price at which similar properties sold, so that we are always aware of where we stand.

Pricing against comps is not a perfect science since no two properties are exactly the same. When evaluating I take into account age, location, finishes, square footage, and a number of other details that go into a home’s value.

Look critically at your photos
I work with only the best professional photographers for one simple reason: beautiful, compelling photography is critical! My clients know how much goes into prepping for photo day. We declutter and stage if necessary, ensure we have all the best lighting (adding or removing lamps, increasing wattage, etc.), and paint as necessary. We’re going for a delicate balance of keeping the look neutral, but also giving buyers a vision for what is possible.

Think about price strategically
One of the adjustments we are making right now to accommodate our more balanced market, is thinking strategically about price right off the bat. A few years ago, there was a good amount of wiggle room for sellers. We were in a world of bidding wars, and homes selling over one weekend. Today’s market is very different, and it pays to come out of the gate strong. We are not anywhere near where we were in 2008/2009, however!

Because I have been in real estate for so long, I have seen many market shifts. 2008/2009, was by far the worst I’ve seen, when we were dealing with multiple market problems all at the same time: heavy inventory, unsold new construction, maxed out credit cards, adjustable interest rates all hitting their anniversary and adjusting up at the same time—and tons of Americans unable to pay their mortgage. We had just come off an incredible market too in 2005-2007, when home values were increasing year-over-year.

Today, while we aren’t seeing the huge increases in home value in just a few short years, we don’t have the multitude of issues we did in 2008/2009. Today our issues are high interest rates and local and national elections. As a result, I see the market rebounding relatively quickly.


Success Story: Marcia

max-bender-580753-unsplash.jpg

I love when clients become friends! I met Marcia and her husband through a former client turned friend, and now I am lucky enough to call them all friends! One of my favorite parts of being a real estate broker is that my network is ever-growing--I meet wonderful people all the time!

How did you find Millie?
She was a referral from a friend in Milwaukee, where I was living at the time.

What do you think sets Millie apart from other brokers?
She knows Chicago!!!  Every building we were in was familiar to her and she always had insights and details that came from that familiarity.

What was your favorite part of working together?
Millie had the perfect touch with my husband and me, knowing when to pull back and when to nudge us forward. We had some serious issues with the behavior of the seller, but Millie kept reminding us to keep the big picture in mind and not to lose sight of our goals.  We both came to really trust her.

Did you use her team? (i.e. lawyer, stager, etc.)?
Yes. Her associate Mike took me on a number of first showings. He was an absolute delight.  We also used the lawyer she recommended and he was also fantastic ... knowledgeable, efficient and very reasonably priced.

Would you recommend her to a friend?
Without a doubt!

The latest on Lincoln Yards

Screenshot 2018-10-22 09.05.21.png

Since I have worked in Chicagoland real estate for so long, every once in a while I am asked to serve on real estate-minded community committees. It is always such an honor! By far the most exciting project I am currently a part of is Alderman Brian Hopkins’ Lincoln Yards advisory committee. As you probably know, Lincoln Yards is Sterling Bay’s projected $5 billion development that if approved will run along the river between Lincoln Park and Bucktown.

The vision for the project was initially unveiled at a public meeting on July 18, with high level improvements including new office and retail space, green spaces, extending the 606 Trail, reinvigorating the riverfront, and new transportation (most notably, redoing and relocating the Clybourn Metra station).

After the initial reveal, the general public sentiment around the pros and cons of the projected 53-acre project were clear. On the plus side, residents are rallying around the positive momentum. The need to transition the industrial nature of the corridor into something more sustainable for young families is apparent. And what Lincoln Yards will do well is create an economic hub with clean jobs, improve property values, and provide opportunities for Chicagoans.

However, with the improved access to opportunity and green space comes the potential for traffic and congestion—at least this is what many critics believe since projections assume thousands of new residents and day workers.

According to my friend Christian Ficara, a spokesman for Alderman Brian Hopkins’ office, Sterling Bay and the Alderman’s office are in the process of taking in community feedback, and the developer is making appropriate adjustments to the plan.

“This proposal is massive in scale, and nothing is being rushed. We have one shot at this, and we want to get it right. It's going to take as long as it's going to take to make sure the community feels like they are getting something out of this. We have a long way to go, and are optimistic that we are going to eventually find consensus on a viable project,” Christian told me.

Christian also noted that while the Alderman’s office is open-minded on development, but are focused on finding the right development in this case, and it is too soon to tell if this is the right one.

Sterling Bay is currently in the process of acquiring and incorporating feedback into the revised version of their proposal—going block-by-block to speak with neighbors, and meeting with civic organizations. I actually held a coffee at my home to discuss plans with the rest of my committee members, Alderman Hopkins, and Sterling Bay back in July.

Christian anticipates Sterling Bay will introduce their revised proposal in November. I will keep you posted here as I learn more about this or any other exciting developments throughout the city.

Tips and tricks: Closet design with Crooked Oak

CustoWalkInCloset5 2.JPG

Last month we spoke about how to maximize your kitchen since we spend so much time in the “heart of the home,” and this week we are talking about closets because who doesn’t love a great closet?! With every morning starting with a trip through your closet, shouldn’t it be exactly how you want it?

For me, it’s functionality above all else. Some of the most beautiful closets I see are built without any regard for lifestyle—too many shelves, or not enough hanging space, or too many small nooks and crannies. Step one is to think about your wardrobe, and how to showcase as much of it as possible. I find it so much easier to dress in the morning when I can see all of my options.

The other thing I see constantly in the world of Chicagoland’s closets is the wrong doors! I just finished replacing all of the bi-fold doors in my home, and it was worth every penny. My new MDF doors paint beautifully and never squeak.

To help provide even more food for thought around closets, I interviewed my friends at
Crooked Oak, an incredible local custom closet builder. They have lots of great information to share!

How long has Crooked Oak been in business, and where are you located?
Crooked Oak has been in business for 15 years and we are located in Broadview, IL. Our company was founded by friends Joel Schellhase and Joe Daschbach. Joel had a background in music producing and bringing his people skills to the table heading in our sales department, and Joe is a cabinet maker that helps our artistic creations come to life!

Can you tell us a little about what makes Crooked Oak closets special?
Crooked Oak closets are special because we are not just a closet company — we do high end cabinetry that is very custom. We have no limitations to what we can do. We can do cabinets with wood finishing, hybrid closets with paint grade exteriors, or acrylic–gloss and laminate interiors to help with cost (but have the solid wood/acrylic gloss exteriors).

Can you describe your favorite closet you have ever installed?
One of our favorites closets installed had the works. We did a high-end paint grade closet that had drawers, a variety of accessories, and LED strip lighting everywhere! Very similar to our showroom closet, which inspired us to showcase everything!

What is one thing people tend to overlook when designing a closet?
People tend to overlook the correct use of space, for example shelves in the corner. We make sure to design the best use of the space so every inch is used!

Success Story: Leo Melamed

lance-anderson-636845-unsplash.jpg

One of my favorite parts of my career is the privilege of working with interesting, successful, brilliant people. Leo Melamed is very high on this list. As the chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in the late 1960s, Mr. Melamed helped to create the International Money Market, futures on US Treasury Bills, Eurodollars, and stock index futures. Later in his career he also spearheaded the creation of the first electronic trading system. Unbelievable, right? It was such a pleasure to work with Leo and his wife!

How did you find Millie?
I was introduced to Millie by her husband, John, whom I have known over a number of years.

What do you think sets Millie apart from other brokers?
Millie is unbelievably dedicated to her profession—a true professional in every sense. She is also tireless! It was amazing to me the amount of energy she put into our transaction. It didn’t matter what they we called, she was always there for us. Watching her work is really a work of art.

What was your favorite part of working together?
Millie’s ability to anticipate my questions was uncanny. It almost became a game! She always knew what I was going to ask next, and truly knows the ropes.

Did you use any of her recommended vendors? (i.e. lawyer, stager, etc.)?
We used her recommended movers and they were very courteous and responsible. We also used her recommended hardwood floor installer and they were very professional.

Would you recommend her to a friend?
Absolutely I would recommend her. When you are a buyer you want an opinion you can trust, and Millie is just that person.

We're hiring - Chief Operating Officer

team abstract.jpg

High-energy real estate team seeks a vibrant new contributor to hustle and bustle your way through the city and make it sparkle for our clients. You will assist one of Chicago’s top luxury residential brokers as a Chief Operating Officer, handling all reporting, administration, sales, marketing, and transaction management.

This role requires a sales broker’s license or willing to become licensed, an eye for detail, and a can-do attitude for putting out fires and making the impossible task look like just another day at the office.

Interested Sales Brokers please forward your credentials to millie4290@gmail.com.

Kitchen remodel tips and tricks

If you broke down how many hours you spent in each room of your home, what percent do you think would be spent in your kitchen? Most people I talk to say nearly all their waking, at home hours! With that time spent in one room, I spend a good deal of time counseling buyers on what to look for in a kitchen, and sellers on how to showcase their's in the best light. 

Today we also have a very special guest on the blog, Mayan Metzler, Founder of German Kitchen Center, a national kitchen design chain with showrooms across the country--and a new one in Chicago! As a true expert in the space, Mayan has some great tips for those considering a remodel, or working on a new project. 

Think holistically about your project
Before you even begin a project, Mayan recommends considering all the factors that go into creating a new kitchen, and all the people who will work on your project in one capacity or another. For example, when you are importing parts from Europe, shipping alone can be a logistical nightmare. German Kitchen Center built Kitchen Tracker to solve this very problem -- a proprietary shipment tracker of every individual piece of a shipment. 

How many vendors can you handle? 
Also consider where you are going to source everything. Are you going to work with one showroom for cabinets and another for appliances? Always an option, but you may also want to consider one stop shopping to keep this easy. German Kitchen Center is the only multi-brand European vendor in the US. 

European considerations
Mayan explains the difference between a German kitchen simply: a German kitchen is like a German car--it will last forever! According to Mayan, the experience of working with a German cabinet maker is entirely different than working with anyone else. When he calls in a new order, the German cabinet maker wants to see the entire design. When he starts a new order with other vendors, they execute as quickly as possible. It's a subtle, important nuance to note. 

Current trends
Will white kitchens ever go out of style? Hopefully not. Mayan is also seeing a lot of handle-less cabinets, and special cabinet finishes including porcelain fronts! A very exciting trend because it's such a strong, gorgeous material with a natural stone look that people love. 

Mayan also notes that in Europe, nearly all kitchens look modern, though many are within very old homes. Both looks are classic and perfectly compliment one another. Try to step out of your comfort zone!

Thank you, Mayan, for your thoughtful information and advice! I love working with some of the country's best designers, right in our own backyard. 

Success Story: Jennifer

11053268_690501771054581_7674923999066538167_o.jpg

While I have worked with many very powerful people, the compliments I receive from people I have known personally for many years are the most special. I have known Jennifer both personally and professionally for many years, and it was my greatest pleasure helping her sell her city home and find the suburban home of her dreams! 

How did you find Millie?
I was referred to Millie many years ago by another Realtor!  Over the years she has assisted me with multiple transactions, most recently a purchase and sale on the North Shore.

What do you think sets Millie apart from other brokers?  
That Millie has an unsurpassed knowledge is probably no surprise. She’s elite in the industry and it is important to me that she has earned such respect. I trust Millie. She has demonstrated time and again that her main priority is my best interest, and has at times cautioned me against certain properties based on adverse conditions or risks that I missed.  

Her knowledge of construction and ability to forecast sale-ability have been a tremendous asset. As busy as I’m sure she was, she had a way of making me feel like my deal was the only one she was working on. She’s very responsive and accessible when I needed her to be.  Finally, we appreciated Millie’s vast network of service providers for post-purchase improvements. 

What was your favorite part of working together?  
She is reassuring, has a sense of humor and made the process fun.  She was thorough in pointing out the pros and cons of the home we purchased, and counseled us well on where we should focus our improvements. Her estimates of construction costs were right on. She listed and closed the home we were selling within 60 days, which was amazing.

Did you use her team? (i.e. lawyer, stager, etc.)?  
We used and were pleased with several of the service providers in Millie’s network.   We were particularly thrilled with her stager and hardwood flooring referrals.

Would you recommend her to a friend?  
I would refer Millie without hesitation and have done so in the past.

Here's why I have the best team in the business

00337-L.jpg

Behind every great real estate broker is a great team. Hands down! And, I just happen to be fortunate enough to work with the best team in the business! We're a small, tight knit group, and we really are a family. Today I'd like to take a moment to reintroduce these amazing people, so that our clients and future clients know exactly who is doing what. 

Jenny Anderson, Director of Operations: Jenny is the reason all of our deals go so smoothly. She is responsible for breaking down the mountain of paperwork sometimes required to buy or sell into manageable and easy to understand pieces for our clients.

For our buyers she is managing timelines, working with lawyers, ordering condo docs and appraisals, and generally making sure everyone is doing what they should be doing, when they should be doing it. For sellers she orders signs and photos, prepares all listing paperwork, ensures our property questionnaire is complete and the team is briefed on all property details prior to showings, follows up regarding earnest money and attorney review timelines, and makes sure everyone makes it to the closing table!

Mike Greco, Senior Sales Broker: Mike handles the bulk of our showings, both for our listings and for our buyers. For our sellers, Mike is brilliant at figuring out the most appealing and unique aspects of a property, and highlighting those features. He knows our inventory inside and out, and prides himself on ensuring that our listings are as accessible as possible to prospective buyers.

When working with buyers, Mike's first task is to make sure that they are 100% ready to go: pre-qualified and market educated. From there, Mike does a great job of ensuring that our buyers see every possible listing that meets their criteria. He checks the Top Agent Network for off market activity, the private listings on the MLS, and talks to other brokers about upcoming listings they have hitting the market. No stone is left unturned!

Michelle Shemroske, Senior Sales Broker: Michelle is a jack of all trades. Whenever we have a big project that needs to get done, Michelle is our girl. With a great eye for design, Michelle is our go-to photography specialist, and handles most of the photos for our listings. We are lucky to have her talents because there is such a difference between a good and bad property photo. Also for our sellers, Michelle handles compiling listing reports that outline our showing and market activity. 

Another big part of our business is working on deconversion projects, which Michelle also leads. She will research the viability of a building project, and then we will present this report to an investor considering a new build. These projects are huge in scale, and very exciting because they literally change the city!

Like I said, I work with a team of rockstars! Thank you, team, for all of your hard work. Our clients and me appreciate it so much.