317 W. Webster, #2, Chicago

Exquisitely located in Lincoln Park on beautiful and private Webster Street, this 2 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom duplex up is walking distance to Lincoln Park Zoo, Oz Park and the Chicago Lakefront Trail. Interior features include 2 EcoSmart fireplaces, Carrera marble countertops, high end appliances including Wolf oven and range. Exterior features includes private balcony and common rear deck and courtyard as well as private ROOF RIGHTS for beautiful views of Chicago. Convenient to public transportation, only steps to the CTA Bus and Brown, Purple and Red lines. Garage parking included. $699,000. Email Grace@GoroBrennerGroup.com for showings.

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Rented! 1717 Dayton

1717 Dayton

1 bedroom

1 bathroom

Beautifully rehabbed unit on a quaint, tree-lined street in Lincoln Park. Only a few blocks from the Armitage L stop, the lake and an abundance of restaurants (including some awesome BYOBs!).

Residential and Commercial Construction Underway in Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park’s newest infrastructure is impossible to miss! While traffic is a real bummer around the Clybourn Corridor (what else is new?), the latest development – dubbed New City – will bring a bevy of shopping, restaurant and entertainment options to residents. Mariano’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and King Bowl America are just a few of the new hot spots coming your way. According to Curbed, the 19 story residential tower is targeted to open on July 1, while the commercial sections will open throughout September and October.

Take a tour of this mega development.

Brown and Purple CTA Trains Disrupted after Lincoln Park Fire

A fire at the 1800 block of North Sheffield late last night is causing delays for commuters this morning.

Officials say Chicago firefighters were called to the former Mulligan Public School at roughly 1 a.m. on Tuesday to extinguish the flames. No one was injured in the 3-alarm blaze, though neighbors were evacuated from their homes as a precaution.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

For information regarding your CTA commute and updates on potential delays, visit their website here.

Continue reading “Brown and Purple CTA Trains Disrupted after Lincoln Park Fire”

Hidden Hot Spots: Lincoln Park

About a year ago I was walking down Armitage in Lincoln Park when I spotted a 20-something guy eating a Long John donut with a strip of bacon on top. Only days later I dropped a couple dollars in that same area and looked up to find myself staring at a place called Glazed and Infused. This was the place – the home of that mouth-watering donut. It tasted every bit as good as it looked, as did the apple fritter, the blueberry lemon glaze and the Old Fashioned.

In honor of the extra pounds I gained from frequenting Glazed and Infused, I present to you Lincoln Park’s hidden hot spots! Whether they’ve been scrunched between two loud bars or are sitting pretty on a back road, these tasty joints serve up unique dishes sure to clench a Midwesterner’s pallet.

Annette’s Italian Ice
924 W. Armitage
Favorites: Oreo and Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Watermelon Italian Ice

Glazed and Infused
939 W. Armitage
Favorites: Maple Bacon Long John, Blueberry Lemon Glaze, Apple Fritter

Sarks in the Park
444 W. Fullerton
Favorites: Loretta, Chorizo Disaster, Captain Crunch French Toast

Kingsbury Street Café
1523 N. Kingsbury
Favorites: Salmon Hash, Breakfast Chilaquiles, Eggs Benedict

Via Carducci
1419 W. Fullerton
Favorites: Insalata di Bietole, Papparedelle alla Bolognese, Pollo Parmigiana

2221 N. Lincoln Ave
Favorites: Duck Confit Mac and Cheese, Cabernet Braised Beef Short Rib

Dawali Mediterranean Kitchen
1625 N. Halsted
Favorites: Spicy Hummus, Chicken and Beef Shawerma, Falafel

This list is by no means an extensive one. If you have any favorite hidden gems, please share them with your fellow Chicagoans!

2014 Schedule – Chicago Park District’s ‘Movies in the Park’


2014 Movie Schedule:

7/15    Chicago PG-13 Montgomery Ward Park
7/17    The Sandlot PG Wicker Park
7/19    42 PG-13 DuSable Museum of African American History
7/20    The Book Thief PG-13 Humboldt Park
7/20    Ghostbusters PG Jonquil Playlot
7/20    The Hunger Games: Catching Fire PG-13 Tuley Park
7/21    Sixteen Candles PG-13 Fulton River Park
7/28    The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer NR Belmont Harbor
7/29    Gravity PG-13 Montgomery Ward Park
7/30    The Muppet Movie G  Touhy Park

8/2    Mr. Peabody & Sherman PG Jonquil Playlot
8/2    The Nut Job PG Sauganash Park
8/3    The Hunger Games PG-13 Lincoln Park Cultural Center
8/5    Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 PG Trebes Park
8/6    Latino Film Festival Selection NR Loyola Park
8/7    The Hunt for Red October PG Wicker Park
8/8    The Goonies PG Wrightwood Park
8/11    True Grit NR Cricket Hill
8/12    The Blind Side PG-13 Montgomery Ward Park
8/13    Claudine PG South Shore Cultural Center
8/14    Despicable Me 2 PG Hamlin Park
8/16    Twenty Feet From Stardom PG-13 DuSable Museum of African America History
8/17    The Thin Man NR Berger Park Cultural Center
8/18    The Lego Movie PG Lake Shore Park
8/19    Fast & Furious 6 PG-13 Fulton River Park
8/19    The Nut Job PG Paschen Park
8/20    The Princess Bride PG Chicago History Museum
8/20    Car Wash PG South Shore Cultural Center
8/22    The Benchwarmers PG-13 Humboldt Park
8/23    The Wizard of Oz PG Oz Park
8/25    Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom PG Grant Park: Grove 5
8/25    The Great Gatsby PG-13 South Shore Cultural Center
8/26    The Hunger Games: Catching Fire PG-13 Lake Shore Park
8/26    The Lego Movie PG Montgomery Ward Park
8/27    The Wiz G South Shore Cultural Center
8/28    The Goonies PG Holstein Park
8/28    The Lego Movie PG Chicago Women’s Park & Gardens
8/30    The Hunger Games PG-13 Jonquil Playlot


Young, Fabulous and Sick of Paying Rent: Can You Afford to Buy?

Leasing a fabulous apartment in the city is a lot like dating Mr. Right Now. It’s fun, it’s pretty easy and there are practically no strings attached. You can basically move in with nothing but a mattress, a table,  your favorite bottle of Trader Joe’s ridiculously inexpensive wine and start having fun. Buying, on the other hand, is a lot like going to the court house and signing a marriage license. Sure, you could get out of it if you really wanted – a la Britney Spears in Las Vegas or Elizabeth Taylor in seven of her eight marriages  – but most people who take the plunge are ready for real commitment. They liked what they saw on the exterior, checked out the mechanicals, toured the neighborhood restaurants and decided they wanted what was on the menu. Forever. Well, maybe not forever, but at least for the next 3-5 years, as is usually the minimum recommended for most real estate investments.

Like both dating and marriage, leasing and buying have their ups and downs. When you lease, you’re usually not committed for more than a year. Which is great because your apartment might sound amazing now, but you could come to find out that you hate the neighborhood, the closet space is unacceptable, the coin laundry is not your style, or that there are centipedes the size of birds waiting to stalk and attack you in the basement. Seriously, it could happen. Or, you could move in and absolutely love the apartment and pour all of your energy into it. You buy all the right furniture, you paint the walls these gorgeous earth tones and get the cutest sheers so the light filters through the windows, just so. You could hang full-length mirrors and buy stunning glassware and keep fresh flowers in the vase by the door and it would be flawless. But it would also be temporary. By the time you’d finished perfecting your space, your landlord could already be arranging for the next tenants to move in and before you know it you’re out on your ass. Ouch.

So, maybe one day you realize that – not unlike some of our past relationships – you’re tired of pouring your energy (and money) into something that really isn’t giving you anything back in return. Then what do you do? Well, if you’ve finally found a neighborhood that you love and plan to live in for the next handful of years then I suppose, in a perfect world, you’d want to buy. But the real question then becomes: can you afford it?

Below is a breakdown prepared by Larry Steinway of The Federal Savings Bank for one of my listings at 828 W. Waveland, unit #1S. It’s a jaw-droppingly handsome, 4 bed/2.5ba duplex down within walking distance to Wrigley Field. The very best, top-of-the-line appliances and finishes in this unit. It’s even wired for sound! Larry calculated that with a 20% downpayment, the mortgage payment on this home would be $3,191.52 (which INCLUDES the assessments and your own garage spot!) for a 30-year fixed loan. You split that up with a few roommates and you’re looking at $798 a month. I suspect that’s less than your rent right now.

828 W Waveland Loan

But I know what you’re thinking, “Um, yeah Grace, however that 20% downpayment is a ton of money.” And I agree – especially for a first-time homebuyer that’s a huge chunk of change. In my experience, most first-time homebuyers are looking at properties somewhere between $200,000 – $400,000. So let’s use this listing at 1104 W. Webster instead (courtesy of Sara McCarthy of Coldwell Banker, of course) as another example.

Example Listing

1104 W. Webster is a 2bed/1.5ba simplex in an ideal location. It’s been recently updated and the unit itself is adorable. It’s listed for $325,000. Say you bought it for list price. At 20% ($65,000) down for a 30-year fixed loan, your monthly payment would be roughly $1,655/mo. If you had a roommate, that’s only $827 a month. And the best part is it’s NOT a rent payment. You are actually paying off your very own home so that someday, when you sell, you should have a little equity and, with any luck, an investment you are super happy you made when you were young.

Still, maybe you think 20% down is a little steep for you. There are also options available to purchase for 5% – 10% down as well. Call or email me if you’d like to talk over those options. Because, unlike the hundreds of scary dates we may have been on, or all the dumpy apartments we may have lived in, homeownership is a decision that we can always, always, always be proud of.

To play around with mortgage payments and different scenarios, check out this link: http://www.mortgagecalculator.org/ And remember, you can always buy or sell with Grace 🙂


Most Dog Friendly Neighborhoods, According to Me

It’s pretty safe to say that I go to a lot of buildings on a regular basis. And I mean, a lot. It’s essentially the most important aspect of my job as a real estate agent in Chicago to go and check out real estate in Chicago. Shocker, I know. But while most people expect me to relay things like, “The doorman at SoNo is the best. People love him,” or, “You have to see the running track on the roof at 900 N. Kingsbury. Four laps to a mile, it’s huge!” or, “Every single layout at Clock Tower Lofts in Bucktown is different. That’s 113 unique layouts in one building, for crying out loud.”

I do notice and relay all these things, of course, but there are also other little nuances you notice as you go in an out of these buildings in all of these different neighborhoods. So, today I feel like relaying a little of what I have seen in terms of pet-friendliness. Actually, dog-friendliness, to be specific. Because, let me tell you, with the weather warming up I have been spotting borderline stampedes of dogs coming in and out of buildings, or up and down the streets of some neighborhoods, and it is awesome.

Why, you ask? Because it’s SO entertaining. And don’t worry, non-dog-people, these friendly beasts aren’t completely taking over, (besides, often times there are separate service elevators for dogs, and if there’s not I have noticed lots of owners prefer taking the stairs anyway) it’s just that it’s kind of like having a front row seat at Westminster Dog Show, and while some of the pups are scrappy little guys, others are practically ‘Best in Show’.

Even just the other day, I was in the lobby of a building that I was showing my client when a nice man walked around the corner with this gorgeous brown, black and white dog prancing in front of him, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of its flowing mane. Yes, its flowing mane. “That’s a Bermese Mountain Dog,” my client said. “The purebreds are kind of rare, actually, because they’re so expensive.” I had no idea! But I totally got it. This bowser was ‘Best in Show’ material, for sure.

Anyway, it got me thinking. It feels like recently there are dogs everywhere! Dogs in walk-ups, dogs in lofts, dogs in high-rises, single-family homes and studios. BUT, the abundance of puppy love in some neighborhoods, also makes you notice when another neighborhood has no love for these four-legged fur balls at all. So, here is my unofficial list of the most dog-friendly neighborhoods in Chicago, as decided by yours truly.

5.) Wrigleyville

Really, I should give the five spot to Lakeview as a whole because it’s a very dog-friendly area and also the closest (in terms of proximity) on this list to Montrose Dog Beach, but it’s great to see the hungover college kids taking Fido on walks during my Sunday showings and I have to give them props for being such diligent owners. A+ you guys.

4.) Roscoe Village

Roscoe Village is super family friendly, for those who didn’t know that already, and from the looks of it lots of them end up deciding to add a furry friend to their growing brood (probably due in part to the irresistible insisting of a four-year-old who had been begging for months). It’s adorable to see the whole crew going on walks together: one parent holds the leash, the other pushes the stroller, and both sip on the Starbucks that they picked up over on the corner of Roscoe and Seeley. I dig it.

3.) River North

It always surprises me that most people don’t know how dog friendly this area actually is – especially the pocket near Kingsbury and Erie. I swear, every time I go into any building in this area I always see at least three dogs. I think there may actually be more pups than people! What’s even more amazing is how well-behaved they all seem to be. They are the definition of city dogs and I love it.

2.) Lincoln Park

I had a severe internal struggle as to whether or not River North or Lincoln Park deserved the number two spot on this list. It was close, but I gave it to Lincoln Park. Every time I’m out walking my own dog he makes at least four friends, and then dodges a fifth (unfriendly) growler, as we go. There are little puppy water bowls outside almost every shop in the summertime, and then there’s Wiggly Field on Sheffield and Schubert. I mean, how could you not give the top two spot to a neighborhood with a park named Wiggly Field? Side note, and word to the wise, if your dog likes chasing squirrels, maybe rethink walking him through the actual park, Lincoln Park. I learned that the hard way.

1.) Wicker Park

It might surprise people that I chose Wicker Park to take the number one spot, but there was just one overwhelming reason that I simply could not ignore: In the summertime, nearly every outdoor patio on Division is dog friendly. People leave their condos, apartments and homes to walk on down to Division where they can tie up their dogs and bask in the sun as they enjoy an ice-cold beer. Then, when they’re finished, they can walk their pup next door and do it all over again. I should mention the same could probably be said for Ukranian Village, but I haven’t noticed as many dogs there as I have in Wicker Park. Bucktown gets an honorable mention as well, as they have a dog park at Churchill Field on Damen that gets a lot of visitors.

So that’s my list! And if you don’t like it? Too bad.

Just kidding! You can always email me your suggestions at SellWithGrace@gmail.com. You can also email me for questions regarding Chicago real estate, or when buying or selling your home. FYI to potential sellers out there – for a totally free home valuation (done personally by yours truly!) visit www.grace.straubmilito.com/sell

Thanks, and enjoy the heat wave out there everyone!

It’s Winter in Lincoln Park

It’s winter in Chicago! I know it’s been a little while since my last post – everything just got so busy gearing up for the holidays that I barely had time to catch my breath! But now that the snow has settled I thought there’s no time like the present to take in this winter wonderland. So my dog, Pono, and I took off through Lincoln Park to document as much holiday spirit (and beautiful real estate) as we could. It really is a wonderful life 🙂

Remembering 918 W. Schubert

918 W. Schubert, #3

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This was one of my most memorable deals, I have to admit. I always say that I love what I do because I get to work with friends, family, and friends of friends or new acquaintances who are sure to work their way into my heart. In the case of 918 W. Schubert, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with one of my closest and oldest friends.

Her partner was looking for a condo in Lincoln Park, and being from out of state he really wasn’t sure exactly what he was looking for or where he was looking to find it. So, we had a meeting of the minds and between him, his girlfriend, and his family we were able to narrow down the perfect grid for him to really focus his search on.

We determined that Lincoln Park had everything he was looking for. This particular location, near Sheffield and Diversey, had easy access to public transportation, was walking distance to a seemingly endless number of restaurants and bars, and had great street parking. But most importantly, the block felt warm and welcoming.

It was just one of those situations where they knew as soon as they walked in. He was home. A month and a half later he was all moved in. Since then, the two of them have done an exceptional job of making the condo their home. Every time I go to visit I am more and more impressed with how beautifully they’ve decorated. With any luck I’ll get my friend to let me feature her in a home decor post! I’ll keep you posted!