The shovels and front-end loaders crept a little closer to downtown Naperville Tuesday night as council members approved the final plat for both the north and south phases of the controversial Water Street Development.
Tuesday's action now sets the table for what are likely to be contentious financial discussions between the city council and developer Marquette Companies.
Marquette is believed to be poised to ask the city for as much as $7.5 million in tax incentives to fund the 2.4 acre project on Water Street, which will include a 166-room hotel, 71,000 square feet of commercial space, 26,000 square feet of office use, a 524-space parking deck, improvements along the south shore of the Riverwalk, and a pedestrian bridge connecting the hotel and the loggia buildings. Marquette officials have declined to comment on what, if any, incentives they will seek from the city.
Tuesday night's vote on the final plat was 6-2 with Mayor George Pradel absent from the meeting. Councilmen Doug Krause and Grant Wehrli continued their opposition to the project.
Krause doesn't believe the traffic needs of the development have been met. Wehrli, a longtime opponent, however, said he was ready to support the plan last month but only if the developer was forbidden to use "Riverwalk" in naming any of the buildings. Ultimately his fellow council members did not agree to limit Marquette's naming rights.
Wehrli said Tuesday he was still opposed the developer having naming rights, but that he's since added another reason to vote against the project -- a variance granted to Marquette allowing them to have 524-spaces in the parking deck, opposed the required 550. He said the move cost taxpayers $1 million before there was even a financial conversation.
"My dollar meter is already running at a million bucks," he said.
Following the meeting, Wehrli and City Manager Doug Krieger explained that the $1 million figure was arrived at by multiplying the difference between required and actual spaces by the cost per parking space.
"Without the variance it would cost them $1 million more, but because we gave them the variance we're taking that as public parking now," Wehrli said following the meeting. "Now the city is paying $1 million more for the parking deck, which is why the variance was so important to them, in my opinion. It was a strict cost-shift away from the developer and onto the taxpayers."
City council meets again April 16, when the additional financial incentives sought by Marquette may be revealed and discussed.