AUBURN GRESHAM — Thanks to its recent placement on the National Register of Historic Places, homeowners in the new Auburn Gresham Bungalow Historic District are eligible to have their property taxes frozen for eight years.
"Sounds like a winner to me," said Roy Avante, who has lived in his bungalow home in the 7500 block of South Wolcott Avenue with his wife for 40 years. "We could use the money to get a new roof. I'm glad we did not sell this place a few years ago when we were thinking about moving to the suburbs."
In 1973 when Avante first moved into his home, he said it was worth $17,000 but today "it's worth $120,000."
Auburn Greshman bungalow homeowners who make renovations equal to 25 percent of the homes' market value are now eligible for a tax freeze, according to Carla Bruni, an architectural historian for the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association (HCBA).
"I am not sure how much each homeowner would save, but whatever it is, I'm sure it would be put to good use," Bruni said.
Earlier this month Auburn Gresham, which has 350 bungalows, joined nine other neighborhoods that bear the historic designation. The others are Wrightwood Boulevard, Schoroch Irving Park, South Park Manor, Rogers Park Manor, North Mayfair, Falconer, Taiman West Ridge, South Shore and West Chatham.
The Auburn Gresham Bungalow Historic District is roughly bounded by South Paulina Street to the east, 78th Street to the south, South Winchester Avenue to the west and 75th Street to the north.
According to Bruni, bungalows were built between 1910 and 1940 and feature sturdy brick construction, a roof line perpendicular to the street, one and one-half stories in height, detailed windows and stone work, and sheltered entrances. In Chicago there are more than 80,000 bungalows, which accounts for about one-third of single-family homes, she added.
The HCBA made it possible for these local districts to be placed on the national register.
"It was the residents who came to us first about having their area designated a historic bungalow district. Once homeowners come to us, we then go out and research the area to see if it qualifies to be a historic bungalow district," Bruni said.
Residents hope that the changes will help Auburn Gresham become known more for its housing stock than for its crime and foreclosure problems.
"Hopefully this designation will change all that," said Kenneth Davis, who moved into his South Wolcott Avenue bungalow with his wife in 2004. "I need to replace our furnace and have some wiring work done, so it would be great if we did not have to pay taxes for a while."