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Chicago Park: Desirable Country Living

Nevada County’s Chicago Park district has the unbeatable combination of gorgeous tree laden country properties and a location that is less than 10 minutes to the Interstate 80 commute corridor.

The realtors’ mantra of ‘location, location, location’ applies to Chicago Park, a community southeast of Grass Valley. Chicago Park’s homes and properties command as much as a 25 percent premium over comparable listings in other parts of the county. Sacramento area commuters and Bay Area transplants, who now telecommute to work, have discovered Chicago Park and added to its image as a high-demand neighborhood. They love the rural beauty combined with easy access to freeways, should they need to make a business trip. Residents can get on Colfax Highway 174 – the neighborhood’s major thoroughfare – and connect directly from 174 to the I-80 freeway.

“It is country living at its finest level, says Russ Engelstad, owner and broker of Rollins Lake Realty which serves customers in Nevada and Placer counties. Engelstad also owns the Long Ravine Campground at nearby Rollins Lake, a major summer recreation spot, part of which borders on Chicago Park.



“We have the heavier vegetation of pine and oak trees and all of the four seasons. You can smell the pines. It makes you want to leave the concrete jungles of Walnut Creek,” says Engelstad. “Everyone wants to be in the Gold Country.”

Broker and real estate appraiser Daniel Ketcham agrees. “People like Chicago Park. It is really quaint. Old timers and newcomers have chosen the area. People sell their million dollar tract home in the Bay Area and they buy land to build their own dream home.”




Chicago Park is a serene, wooded area with predominantly ranch and multi-acre parcels, according to Engelstad. At 2,200 to 2,600 feet elevation, Chicago Park can get some snow in the winter, he says. It has the year round advantage of a flat to rolling hills terrain and is ideal for horse ranches. The terrain also lends itself well to vineyards and some have been developed in the area. The area has an agricultural history, having been the site for many orchards at the turn of the 20th century.

The average price of a Chicago Park property is in the mid $600,000s which includes a few acres of land. Homes can range from $379,000 for a 1,321-square foot, three bedroom, two bath home on a half acre, to $1,890,000 for a 26.7 acre-horse ranch off of Highway 174. The horse ranch includes a 4,100-square foot log home with three bedrooms, and two full and two half baths; an 1,100-square foot home and a 1,700-square foot log home.

Land, as in other desirable areas of Nevada County, is getting to be more of a premium. A good, 5-acre parcel is running around $400,000 to $500,000. Once a home is developed, these properties become million dollar investments. “Available, bare land is hard to come by,” says Engelstad.

Housing inventory, however, is up from a year ago, reflecting the overall slowing of the market. The Peardale-Chicago Park combined district has 33 residential homes listed.

“Chicago Park is really a sought after area and the school system is awesome,” says Engelstad. The Chicago Park school district has its own K-8 school which has a good academic reputation. High school students either go to Nevada Union High School or Bear River High School.

Chicago Park’s “downtown” on Mount Olive Road consists of a country store and post office. For shopping, Grass Valley and Auburn are options. Giovanni’s, a popular, family owned restaurant with Italian/American cuisine, is nearby, on Highway 174 in Colfax.

For recreation, the biggest local draw is Rollins Lake which has direct access from Chicago Park. Four campgrounds provide plenty of overnight accommodations for locals and tourists. Summer visitors can rent paddle boats, water ski, jet ski and fish, among other activities. Greenhorn Creek and the Bear River flow into Rollins Lake which crosses the divide between Nevada and Placer counties. One dining option is The Outrigger, Engelstad’s breakfast and lunch restaurant at the Long Ravine Campground and marina.

Chicago Park is a high-demand spot for Sacramento and Bay Area professionals who want to live in a peaceful country environment, yet have the convenience of easy access to I-80. The area will continue to be a coveted place to live as more buyers leave the urban areas for the beauty of Nevada County.


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