Naperville’s downtown is expanding. Last week, the city council approved a new development on Water Street:
Following months of debate, councilmen tied up loose ends in a brief discussion before voting 6-2 in favor of the project.
The development proposed by Marquette Companies is targeted for 2.4-acres bounded by Aurora Avenue on the south, the DuPage River on the north, Main Street on the east and Webster Street on the west. The plan calls for a 166-room boutique hotel, 524-space parking garage, restaurants, shops, offices and a plaza.
Proponents say the project will add a much-needed hotel to the downtown and add to the vibrancy of the area. But others have expressed concerns about issues such as building heights, traffic, parking and impact on the Riverwalk. Councilmen gave preliminary approval to a scaled-down version of the plan last month and reaffirmed their vote Tuesday…
In addition to upcoming discussions about a possible financial incentive, the city also must negotiate with Marquette Companies over what public improvements will be funded by tax increment financing money because the project sits in a TIF district.
This could be a big change for Naperville. Here’s why:
1. It moves the downtown across the DuPage River in a big way. This could lead to more changes down the road, perhaps eventually connecting the downtown to Edwards Hospital.
2. It brings in a significant hotel presence into the downtown. Naperville has a number of hotels along the I-88 corridor which helps provides space for nearby office complexes but these could help downtown businesses, festivals, and other functions.
3. The addition of a big parking garage will help relieve parking pressure in the downtown. In recent years, there had been a lot of discussion about a new garage on the site of the Nichols Library parking lot but that may be shelved for a while now.
4. It puts a mixed-use development right on the Riverwalk, something that has been lacking to this point. While the Riverwalk is popular and opens up the space along the DuPage River, most of the businesses near the Riverwalk back up to it rather than face it and incorporate it into their space.
I’m looking forward to seeing what this development looks like and how it contributes to the downtown.