Lisle attracting younger residents and families
Originally a farming community, Lisle has evolved into a vibrant western suburb rich with housing options, recreational opportunities and highly-rated schools. Lisle is a place that takes business seriously. Its corporate complexes are home to many of DuPage County's largest employers. Yet, the village retains a small-town feel where families stay for generations.
Main Street in downtown Lisle invites residents and visitors to shop and dine with streetscape and facade improvements: wider sidewalks, a new 20-mph speed limit, a street narrowed from four lanes to two, and the addition of a median strip filled with ornamental grasses and flowers.
Many families move from one home to another in Lisle, and grown children often move back when it's time to buy their first home.
In 2007, Money magazine named Lisle the 20th best place to live in the United States for its "economic opportunity, good schools, safe streets, things to do, and a real sense of community."
"Lisle has always been a small town to me, the type of community that takes care of its own, from the birth of a baby to a death in the family. Even new people in Lisle feel this way when they get here, and that's why they stay," said Jeanine Lopez, who grew up in Lisle and returned in 1997 with her husband, Dave, when their oldest son was ready to start school.
Lisle attracts residents with its top-ranked schools in Lisle District 202 and Naperville District 203. Lopez had gone through the District 202 schools and liked the small school setting. Plus, her father, Ed Parkhurst, was well into his 20 years of service on the Lisle school board. Since moving back, Lopez has become the owner/operator of Bountiful Market and Café on Maple Avenue.
Julie Ramirez, Lopez's sister and a teacher in Glen Ellyn, moved back to Lisle several years ago. She and her husband, Ray, are newlyweds who live in a condominium. "Lisle is close to Chicago if I want to go there, and close to Naperville without living there. It's a small community, quiet; and it's nice that it's already established," said Ramirez. She and her husband, both Lisle High School graduates, reconnected one evening at the Maple Avenue Pub in Lisle and can attest that Lisle is a lively place for singles.
This year, Money magazine named Lisle the 17th best place for the rich and single. Amenities such as the trails and shady groves at the Morton Arboretum; skiing at the Four Lakes Ski Area; golfing at the Lisle Park District's River Bend Golf Club; and shooting hoops and taking batting practice at the Chicago Bulls/White Sox Training Academy helped Lisle make the list. Events and activities throughout the village provide education, entertainment and exercise for residents of all ages.
Julie Figge, a 14-year Lisle resident and medical transcriptionist, said her family -- husband Ron and their three sons -- has certainly used Lisle's parks over the years. The family swims at Sea Lion Aquatic Park, Julie works out at the Community Park Fitness Center, and the boys play in the Lisle Baseball League.
The Lopez family of three boys and a girl takes part in the Fishing Derby at the Community Park ponds and the Scarecrow Scramble foot races for toddlers through adults.
The annual Eyes to the Skies balloon festival, one of the Chicago area's most colorful festivals, occurs on the Fourth of July weekend here. Depot Days, Lisle's historical fall festival, takes place at The Museums at Lisle Station Park. The Lights of Lisle kicks off the Christmas season with Santa's parade and the lighting of luminarias along downtown streets.
Since 2000, the village board has pursued large-scale projects beginning with the construction of a new police station on Route 53 and a new village hall east of Main Street. In June, the village completed downtown Lisle's major facelift. Combining Prairie-style design with the nickname The Arboretum Village, the new streetscape with improved façades, wider sidewalks, a narrower Main Street, and a median strip with plantings is meant to attract businesses, residents, and shoppers downtown.
According to Catherine Schuster, economic development director of Lisle, the village is developing a sustainability program and $200,000 restaurant grant program for new full-service restaurants downtown. The grant could be used to transform existing buildings into new restaurants or to build new restaurants. New restaurants are encouraged to develop organic or sustainable menu items and use sustainable practices. In fact, all businesses are encouraged to incorporate sustainable practices in day-to-day operations. If they do, they can display Lisle's sustainability logo.
Wild Bran health food store will soon be moving in downtown, while Vini, an Italian restaurant, and Robert Kelly Studio Photography have recently opened. They join the popular Yerbabuena Mexican Cuisine, Fox, and Hong Kong Chef restaurants and specialty retail shops such as Tina's Closet, Bridal Mansion and The Nook.
Lisle's corporate complexes are home to many of DuPage County's largest employers. Most of these businesses are along Warrenville Road, Route 53, Ogden Avenue and Maple Avenue. Major employers include Molex, Unilever, McCain Foods, Benedictine University, and the Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Wyndham hotels.
Commuters to and from Chicago enjoy the convenience of rail service at the Lisle Commuter Center on Front Street, the third largest Metra commuter stop on the Burlington Northern line.
Tucked back from the busy roads, Lisle's residential areas provide respite with tree-lined, curved streets and cul de sacs. Those are the kinds of features that families with kids are looking for in Lisle, as well as good schools, according to Don Gudmundson, owner of Century 21 Comstock Realty Group in Lisle.
"Lisle is an affordable place to live for young families," said Julie Figge. A few years ago, the Figges decided to add on to their home rather than move. "Other homes did not have the charm that our house and the neighborhood have," she added. Other home buyers include long-established Lisle residents. "Once you move into Lisle, you tend to move up in housing in Lisle," said Heidi Bolger, broker/owner of Coldwell Banker Gladstone Realtors in Lisle.
In some older neighborhoods as well as in newer condo and townhouse developments, Lisle offers homes from $275,000 to $300,000. On the high end, homes go for $600,000 to $2.5 million. Some in this price range replaced teardowns in Lisle's Oak View section just south of downtown.
No matter where they live, residents feel Lisle is the place to be.
"Lisle is a full-service community -- everything to fit your needs," said Joe Broda, in his third term as mayor of Lisle and a 31-year resident. "Someone could spend their whole life cycle in Lisle -- from a starter home, to an upgrade, then downsizing, or retiring at The Devonshire or Villa St. Benedict."