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updated: 12/3/2012 7:16 PM

Revised Water Street proposal not likely to change council minds in Naperville

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  • The proposed Water Street development in downtown Naperville will be back Tuesday before the city council.

      The proposed Water Street development in downtown Naperville will be back Tuesday before the city council.
    Courtesy Marquette Companies

 
 

Developers have eliminated 62 apartments and reduced by 8 feet the height of the proposed downtown Naperville Water Street project, but the changes have had little impact on those who eventually will vote on the plan.

Naperville City Council members Tuesday will discuss the latest revisions to the mixed-use proposal slated for the south edge of the DuPage River, but early discussions show little movement in their views.

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The newest version of the plan, revised after the Nov. 20 council meeting, scraps 62 apartments and reduces the maximum height of the tallest building to 82 feet from 90.

A Holiday Inn Express hotel planned for the site, between the DuPage River and Aurora Avenue, with Webster and Main streets as its east-west boundaries, has been downsized from six stories to five.

Most of its 163 to 177 rooms would be in a building on the south side of Water Street, but between 62 and 76 would be on the north side in a building bordering the river, said Jeff Prosapio, director of Marquette Companies, which hopes to develop the project.

A pedestrian bridge first proposed in 2010 to connect the second floor of both buildings has been brought back into the design.

A rooftop restaurant on the hotel will bring the development's highest point to 82 feet, while most of the main building will be 65 feet tall.

Removing apartments from the design allowed Marquette Companies to free more parking for public use. Under the revised plan, 128 spots of 580 to be built in a parking deck will be reserved for hotel guests, while the remaining 452 will be public parking.

Council members who have supported the project are still in line.

"I don't like the architectural structure of this plan as much as I liked the last version," Councilman Steve Chirico said. "But I can see that this proposal is stronger for the community and that's what we're after."

Those on the fence don't yet appear to be leaning one way or another.

Councilwoman Judy Brodhead previously said the height was her biggest concern and urged developers to drop a story.

"They've addressed my height concerns and showed they are attempting to make everyone happy and that's a step in the right direction," she said Monday. "But I'm not ready to show my cards just yet. Let's see what (developers) have for us (on Tuesday).

Councilman Robert Fieseler, who has gone from supporting the project to opposing it, said he also was not ready to commit until city staff members could calm his traffic and parking concerns. But if they can, he said, he may again be ready to back the plan.

Opposition remains steady, however, from three council members who have objected since the proposal was first reintroduced.

Paul Hinterlong said he was setting aside his Monday night to review the new plan. He wants to keep an open mind but said it would be difficult to sway him into supporting the revised plan.

"There's a lot of work to be done to prove that parking can work and that we're not making a bigger mess out of downtown traffic," Hinterlong said. "Can they show me that? I don't know."

Councilmen Grant Wehrli and Doug Krause both agreed the project's revisions were a "step in the right direction" but said developers are unlikely to meet their expectations.

"This is not nearly enough to get me anywhere near being supportive of this," Wehrli said. "The best solution would be to take everything ... and send the developer back to drawing board and start all over. I'd like them to put a final plan in front of me and let me vote, but they keep moving the goal post."

Krause called the project a "moving target" that would not be getting his support.

"Every time we talk we get another version and every version is too large, will have a negative effect on the Riverwalk and make traffic horrendous," Krause said. "The only thing this developer has convinced me of is that they are trying to make as much money as possible and that they don't care about the city."

Prosapio, however, has said developers have been listening every step of the way.

"The single biggest change is the elimination of the apartment use," he said. "It allowed us to accommodate the major issues that were being raised by the council."

Council members are expected to table a vote until Dec. 18 to give everyone enough time to pour over Tuesday night's presentation.

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