Naperville has “high hopes” for the Naperville Crossings commercial and entertainment development on the southwest side of the large suburb. These plans do not include a “high-end” auto repair shop:
But nearby homeowners associations weren’t in favor of it, and city council members didn’t go for it, either. By a 6-3 tally, they voted down the shop’s request for a conditional use, saying the business isn’t what they envisioned for the area and they’re willing to wait for something that is…
Jonathan Wakefield, development director for Houston-based Christian Brothers, said the shop would play well with its neighbors because people need somewhere to go or something to do while waiting on car repairs. The shop would have run shuttles to work, school or Metra stations, but he predicted some customers would stay and shop or grab a bite to eat.
Council member Kevin Coyne still was hesitant, saying a car repair business doesn’t blend well next to a day care, a fire station and a frozen custard shop.
“What of any cachet will want to move in next door to an awkward mix of business uses,” Coyne said.
Mike Reilly, president of the nearby White Eagle homeowners association, predicted “the start of a downward trend for Naperville Crossings” if council members were to abandon the original goal and allow the repair shop.
This is a common issue in many suburbs: a retail development has long-standing vacancies. See earlier posts involving grocery stores (here and here) and shopping malls (here and here). But, how many of these suburbs turn down possible occupants in order to wait for better ones? I would guess Naperville is in a minority of suburbs that can afford to do this.
Additionally, I would be interested to dig more into what is so bad about a higher-end car repair place. More noise? Most of the activity would take place during business hours. A lower-class clientele? Maybe; everyone needs a car in Naperville and there are plenty of wealthy residents nearby who need their cars serviced? The lower status activity of car repair? Perhaps this is similar to homeowner’s associations restricting car repairs in driveways and limiting the parking of RVs and work trucks and vans. This seems like an issue of social class and Naperville as a wealthier suburb with a certain reputation will wait for a more appealing use.