Skokie Development Tops List of Best Small Homes

March 24, 2010

Builder Magazine has listed the top 10 best-selling communities of small homes across the country, and the No. 1 pick happens to be in the Chicago area. And, if you drive on the Edens expressway, chances are you’ve seen it.

Check out the view from the pool at Old Orchard Woods!

With the shift in the real estate and job markets, more developers and builders are leaning toward smaller spaces, or homes that average less than 2,000 square feet. While most of the communities on the magazine’s top 10 list of smaller houses offer single-family homes, the top pick goes to Optima Old Orchard Woods condo development in Skokie.

I’m talking about those beautiful, glass buildings off the Edens on Woods Drive between Old Orchard and Gold Roads. The floor-to-ceiling windows give homeowners a view of either the magnificent Chicago skyline or the Harms Woods forest preserve, which consists of hundreds of acres of forestry preserved against future development.

Builder Magazine chose this community because of its successful selling rate. Since opening in late 2004, Optima has averaged more than seven condo sales per month. From September through November of last year, sales averaged 20 a month. The development is 75 percent sold.

Old Orchard Woods was designed by award-winning architect David Hovey, a New Zealand native who studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology and still reportedly teaches there. The condo development offers 665 units in three, 20-story glass towers aptly named Oak, Elm and Maple. Each tower has its own two-story, glass-enclosed lobby, a fitness center on the penthouse floor and landscaped roof terraces.

The property boasts an impressive fountain and reflecting pool in the common-area courtyard, an indoor swimming pool with two-story-tall windows overlooking Harms Woods, a huge sun deck also facing the forest, a spa, tennis courts and a two-story party room with kitchen.

Each unit has private balconies and terraces to enjoy those spectacular views. Prices for a one-bedroom condo start at $234,700; $267,000 for a two bedroom; $489,000 for three bedrooms, and penthouse units start at $665,000. Some penthouse condos have four bedrooms and are priced around $1 million.

The community is in its final phase and buyers can still benefit from the homeowner tax credit. In addition, Optima Builders is offering FHA loans to qualified buyers with 3.5 percent down. Conventional 30-year, fixed-rate loans are available with 5 percent down, and qualified veterans can receive VA loans with 0 percent down.

The builder is also offering incentives for quick deliveries.

The rest of Builder Magazine’s top 10 list includes small-home communities in California, Arizona, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Colorado, Washington and North Carolina.

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