Bedroom Communities the Next Fox Valley Development Frontier

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Growing, growing and growing

Algonquin and Lake in the Hills will be three or four times their current size and South Elgin will at least double. That's Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission planner Marc Thomas' view of 2020. Daily Herald Photo/Paul Beaty

The Fox Valley is booming.

In a recent Bell Federal Savings survey of housing permits issued in the Chicago area last year, Lake in the Hills, South Elgin and Algonquin all cracked the top 10.

Daily Herald staff writer Allison Kaplan talked with associate planner Marc Thomas from the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission - the comprehensive planing agency for the Chicago metropolitan area - about the surge of development in the Fox Valley, and how likely it is to continue.

Q. One of the chief roles of NIPC is forecasting development. Looking back at past predictions, was the rapid growth of the Fox Valley expected?

A. It was just delayed. Our forecast way back showed the population in the Fox Valley being as high in 2000 as what we're now projecting for 2020.

But there was a period of economic trauma in the 1970s and early 1980s. We had a lot of manufacturers, and that's the sector hit hardest in a recession. There was a 20-year period without significant population or employment growth, relative to previous periods.

Q. What changed?

A. The two major areas of job growth over the last 2 1/2 decades are DuPage County and the Northwest suburbs in Cook County. That makes southeastern McHenry County the golden crescent - its location is terrific, just outside where all the job growth has occurred. People like to live on the fringe because the center of development is too congested, but they don't want to commute forever.

Q. So what kind of growth do you forecast for the Fox Valley by 2020?

A. Algonquin will probably triple in the 30-year period from 1990 to 2020. Crystal Lake will at least double, and Lake in the Hills will triple or quadruple.

We expected South Elgin to double by 2020, but it looks like that might happen by end of decade, so our forecast was a little low.

Elgin will certainly grow, probably from 85,000 to around 122,000.

Significant change is not expected in East Dundee, a preliminary forecast is only a 50-percent increase. Carpentersville can also expect about a 50-percent increase. West Dundee might nearly double.

Q. …