Rising property taxes and home values are pushing many homeowners, empty-nesters and first-time buyers out of Oak Park and River Forest. And Realtors are following them.

With the regionalization of the Multiple Listings Service (MLS) and fast-rising property values in Oak Park, competition here has grown, forcing agencies to diversify their businesses.

Gloor Realty, 114 N. Oak Park Ave., was founded in Oak Park in 1946. But it opened its second location, in Westchester, just last year”a home base to capture the west- and south-heading market.

Now Gloor is getting into new-construction projects, and has even become a developer on one project.

Century Station, a new-construction project planned for the northwest corner of Oak Park and Stanley avenues in Berwyn’s Depot District, features 52 one-, two- and three-bedroom condos. Half have been sold in the month they’ve been available.

The building is across the street from a Metra train station, meaning residents will be just 12 minutes from the Loop. A bank, grocery store, park, coffee shop, restaurants and bars are all within a short walk.

Units feature custom cabinets, granite countertops, breakfast bar islands, and wall-to-wall carpeting except for the ceramic tile floors in the kitchens and baths.

Remaining one-bedroom units are priced from $182,900 to $210,900, two-bedroom units from $272,900 to $304,000, and the single remaining three-bedroom condo is $337,900. The project is expected to be finished in 2007.

Century Station is Gloor Realty’s first new-construction sales project.

Rich Gloor Jr., of Gloor Realty, said places like Berwyn, Westchester and Hillside have become attractive to Oak Parkers because of their proximity to home, nice housing stocks and more bang for their real estate bucks.

“It’s hard when you’re first married to be able to afford a $450,000 house and pay $6,000 to $7,000 in taxes,” Gloor told Wednesday Journal last June.

Empty-nesters not ready to move into a condo also have headed west for single-story, ranch-style homes, very few of which can be found in Oak Park. He said $275,000 buys a nice ranch in Westchester where taxes are much lower.

Gloor said last week that he’d been eyeing the Berwyn site for Century Station awhile before handing the deal over to Martin Paris, a fellow graduate from Oak Park and River Forest High School who founded Sedgwick Properties Development Corporation, and Gloor were buddies all the way back to grade school. Sedgwick has developed condo buildings in Chicago and Denver, all of which are in “steps from everything” locations.

Segwick developed Century Station and Gloor is listing the properties out of a Berwyn sales center. Gloor said the site has given the company a greater presence in Berwyn, increasing business both for sales of the condos and other properties in Berwyn, too.

But in passing deals on to others, Gloor saw lost opportunties.

“We should be the ones finding value” in a property, Gloor said. “Finally we said, this is something we should just handle [ourselves].”

So, Gloor agent Vicki Jones (the “J”), loan officer Kim Stewart (the “S”) and Gloor (the “G”) created JSG Development. Their first project: Blue Stem Condominiums, 1905 Wolf Road, Hillside, across the street from the Fresh Meadows Golf Course.

The 46-unit building will be ready in the fall and is 25 percent sold. Units all have two bedrooms and are priced from 1,134-square-foot units at $284,900 up to ones with dens and 1,628 square feet at $459,900. The units are being sold out of Gloor Realty’s new Westchester office.

Gloor said being the developer on a project was a “whole different role,” but that each of the partners had experience with deals, and each has a speciality: Jones with project management, Stewart with financing, and Gloor with sales.

Gloor said Hillside officials were very easy to deal with as it was the village’s first new-construction condo project in more than a decade.

Gloor expects the reach to nearby towns to increase, and hopes to expand his new company’s development role. Former Oak Parkers are a good draw, as they’ve probably already heard of Gloor Realty.

“I think Oak Park Realtors are going to continue to do well down in Berwyn,” Gloor said.

CONTACT: dcarter@wjinc.com

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