Wheaton officials are working on a long-term vision for downtown even as some long-sought developments begin to change the face of the area, Mayor Michael Gresk said Thursday.
Gresk touted the benefits of two projects that are expected to be completed in the fall during his annual State of the City address to the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce.
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A $64 million, six-story apartment complex dubbed "Wheaton 121" is expected to open in October near the Wheaton Public Library. The site previously sat vacant after officials pulled the plug on a proposed 198-unit condominium project in 2011.
Also in October, a Mariano's Fresh Market grocery store is expected to open at the former Hubble Middle School property on the corner of Naperville and Roosevelt roads. In June 2011, Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 announced the roughly $5 million sale of the site to Chicago-based Bradford Equities, LLC. The long-awaited sale came after both a sealed auction and a live auction produced no bids for the property.
"October should be a big month for this town," Gresk told his audience at Arrowhead Golf Club. "Don't go on vacation in October."
City leaders are keeping both those projects in mind as they identify gateways and long-term improvements to downtown with Design Workshop Inc. The Denver-based consulting firm has "gathered a wealth of information and research," Gresk said, including a study on traffic activity and community input for a downtown strategic plan. The city council will discuss the firm's findings and initial concepts at a planning session Jan. 28.
The goal is to "create a favorable environment that people want to come in and do business in Wheaton," Councilman Phil Suess said.
Suess also applauded the development projects downtown and in the Danada area, such as the Studio Movie Grill, a theater-dining concept unveiled in June.
"That's well over $100 million of private investment in our community," Suess said.
As he concluded his address, Gresk looked ahead to a proposal for another downtown building: the former Jewel property at 114 E. Willow Ave., where he said a developer wants to bring a three-story, 40,000-square-foot medical office building.
Gresk said in an interview the developer will present final design plans to city officials in the next several weeks.
If approved, the project would raze the long-vacant building, considered an eyesore in the downtown.
"I look forward to a year of making great strides in accomplishing Wheaton's goals and seeing major developments come to fruition," Gresk said.