Wheaton officials continue to push for enhancements to development plans for the former Hubble Middle School site, but an attorney for the owner cautioned some of the proposed changes could adversely impact the project's economic viability.
In the second public hearing on the project Monday, the city council discussed sidewalk construction, road improvements and outdoor lighting at the site. While owner Bradford Equities, LLC, still needs permits and approval from the city and DuPage County, city staff members recommended 17 changes to the preliminary development plan.
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"We're starting to kind of accept the fact that Hubble is really the gateway into the downtown," Councilwoman Jeanne Ives said. "I think we need to put in some of the finishing touches to make it look professional and nice and welcome people in."
The Chicago-based company bought the property for just more than $5 million from Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 in June 2011 and plans to open a Mariano's Fresh Market grocery store on the corner of Roosevelt and Naperville roads by spring 2013. Bradford also will bring a small office, bank or medical building on the northwest corner of Roosevelt Road and Main Street.
As part of a $3 million agreement with Bradford, Wheaton Park District plans to buy a portion of the land -- most of which sits in a flood plain -- and renovate athletic fields and three indoor gyms at the site.
Meanwhile, the city hopes to ease traffic concerns by recommending the construction of a second left-turn lane for north Naperville Road to west Roosevelt Road. The city also wants Bradford to provide a right-turn lane to west Roosevelt Road at the intersection.
That would set up a meeting with officials from Bradford, the city, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the DuPage County Division of Transportation.
The city also has asked Bradford to add $100,000 in street lighting and $50,000 in sidewalk repairs.
"There comes a point where this project is not economically viable any more for the developer and the park district because they will reach a breaking point, and we're about there," said John Zemenak, an attorney for Bradford and the park district. "It's not an endless bank of money."
Ives and Mayor Michael Gresk said they would support a cost-sharing agreement with Bradford, the park district and the city for the street lighting.
Gresk said there are no deal breakers in the city's recommendations for the property. He expects the permits to be issued in 60 to 90 days.
"This was a huge undertaking," Gresk said. "We've had people come right out and say that property is worthless. To their credit, the school district stuck to their guns, and we're working through it, too."