As a longtime Naperville resident, Kelly Dichristofano regularly savored that community's Riverwalk.

Having grown accustomed to being near water, she didn't hesitate when given a chance to buy a unit at The Front Street Lofts, a brand-new development in Lemont.

Not coincidentally, Dichristofano chose a one-bedroom loft with a view of the Illinois & Michigan Canal, the historic waterway rolling past her new doorstep.

In Dichristofano's estimate, Lemont stands to become "the next Naperville," given its picturesque waterfront setting. And she intends to take full advantage of the Canal Walk next to the waterway.

"It's a different atmosphere," she said. "You don't get a lot of water views in many suburbs. This is peaceful and calming, walking out and seeing water as opposed to another building or an average street."

She said she plans to use the Canal Walk "as my new running path, and it will be a great path for my dog as well."

Dichristofano's quest to plant roots near water is nearly a universal goal.

Worldwide, homes on oceans, lakes, rivers, ponds and other waterways are among the most avidly sought anywhere.

The National Association of Home Builders recently gauged the premium attached to American waterfront homes and found it is considerable.

Using a statistical model to estimate the impacts of both general location and specific neighborhood amenities, the builders group studied a standard new home built in a Midwestern suburb.

Testing the effects of several attractive amenities on that home, the association found the single greatest upward influence on a home's price is a location on a body of water.

The estimated price of the baseline home with no special locational amenities was $212,137. But moving that same house to an otherwise similar neighborhood on a waterfront elevated the price to $303,760.

By contrast, adequate nearby public transportation, the amenity with the second-greatest upward impact on pricing, raised the estimated price to a comparatively modest $238,340.

The price of the home in a Midwestern suburb rose by 43 percent, or $92,000, when placed near water. The same home in a non-metropolitan community in the South climbed 44 percent, or $75,000.

In a California metropolitan area, the price ballooned by 41 percent, or $243,000.

Bryan Nooner, chairman of Orland Park-based home developer Distinctive Cos., says his firm has built many residential developments along lakes, ponds or other bodies of water.

"And one thing's for sure," he said. "The vast majority of people, if they had their choice, would choose to live along water in one form or another."

According to Nooner, "it's a soothing natural element people love to gather around. It's part of our makeup as people. Around the world, people flock to water."

The Front Street Lofts, Dichristofano's new home, will be part of Lemont's Downtown Redevelopment Plan, offering residential, retail and office development along the canal.