Downtown St. Charles, IL

For my Downtown St. Charles evaluation I included the area between both sides of the St. Charles river going to 5th to the west and east and south to Prairie St/South Ave and north to the train tracks.

Lack of regional connections in the early years of Saint Charles’ development kept the town relatively small especially compared to nearby Aurora and Elgin. St. Charles only reached 6K by WW II. Thanks to the auto mobile and Highways St. Charles became part of Chicagoland and grew rapidly in the post War years. Now the City’s population sits at 33K.

St. Charles in general is more affluent than most Fox River cities. This has led to much more high end in-fill and many townhouses and condos selling over 500K. Downtown has still managed to keep the Historic Hotel Baker open, which has helped spur lots of other entertainment, dining, and nighttime businesses. Dwtn St. Charles also excels at excellent park and retail amenities, has retained a significant amount of its historic architecture, and is safer and boasts a better tree canopy than other similar Fox River towns. But for Dwtn St. Charles to be a thriving urban district it still needs more population, which would help attract important retail amenities like a supermarket and drug store. Rentals are also limited here and public transit service is pretty limited.

Click here to view my St. Charles Dwtn album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Good sidewalk infrastructure but modern ADA curb cuts are limited on more residential streets but consistant on the commercial streets.
* Highly connected dwtn.
* Dedicated bike trail on both sides of the Fox River.
* Solid school options including several well rated schools both elementary and middle schools.
* Decent for sale options. A handful of 1 bed condos selling in the 100Ks, 2-beds sell btwn 200k-600K, 3 & 4 beds sell btwn 250K-800K. Good # of newer townhouses and condos available.
* Good park amenities including several riverside parks complete with recreational trails, 3 quality urban squares, and two larger parks north and south of Dwtn with lots of amenities.
* Solid cultural amenities including lots of food & beverage biz, several breweries, a couple art galleries, a couple theaters & local museums.
* Solid retail amenities as well including several banks, plenty of boutiques & clothing stores, a couple of bookstores, plenty of gift shops & unique stores, a couple florists, tons of dessert joints, a couple gyms, a post office and public library, and lots of churches.
* Dwtn St. Charles is a very safe area and so is  St. Charles overall.
* Solid architecture including plenty of historic commercial bldgs (some of them iconic) and good amount of modern in-fill generally to a high standard.
* Excellent tree canopy for a dwtn area.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Pretty low density for an urban area.
* 50 min drive and 1 hr. train ride from Aurora to Dwtn Chicago. But dwtn Elgin has some jobs itself and only a 30 min transit ride to Dwtn Naperville.
* Rentals are limited to most 1-beds leasing in the low-mid 1Ks
* Public transit service is limited to a call for service model. No direct train service here. One needs to go a couple miles south to Geneva.
* Without direct train access, St. Charles has poor access to Dwtn Chicago or other satellite dwtns in the area. Its over 1 hr. drive to dwtn Chicago as well.
* So so diversity indicators. St. Charles is pretty white and affluent.
* Rentals are pretty limited and generally moderately priced.
* Missing a dwtn grocery store, a drug store, and really no medical offices here.
* Some surface parking on the edges of Dwtn but not too bad.

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