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updated: 5/3/2013 4:47 PM

Will new-look Freedom Plaza earn Naperville's approval?

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  • Plans for a newly designed Freedom Plaza are likely to garner the support from city council members this time around.

      Plans for a newly designed Freedom Plaza are likely to garner the support from city council members this time around.
    Renderings courtesy of Russ Whittaker

 
 

A once-controversial development proposal will soon find its way back before Naperville City Council members, but without one major component.

A new plan for Freedom Plaza has surfaced that would add a hotel, conference center and restaurants to Naperville's north side. Missing from the plan is the CRL Riverwalk Manor Alzheimer's assisted-living facility, once called the "linchpin" to the whole development.

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Indiana-based Lakhany Group Investments, LLC, wants to build the development on 13 acres on Abriter Court between Diehl Road and I-88 and west of Freedom Commons shopping center.

Russ Whittaker, attorney for the developers, said Thursday evening that the new plan will include a 168-room Embassy Suites hotel with a restaurant and a 13,000-square-foot banquet facility that could hold up to 1,080 people. Four additional restaurants also are included in the plan.

In late 2011, council members approved a proposal to build a hotel on the site, but refused to rezone the area to allow the Alzheimer's facility.

Whittaker said the commercial real estate market has rebounded to the point of demanding more than just medical-use facilities, meaning the facility is no longer a necessity for the project.

The planning and zoning commission approved the project by a 9-0 vote earlier this week, sending the project to the city council in the coming weeks. Some council members already are backing the plan.

"I really like what I see. It appears the developers have become more realistic about what kind of development would be best suited for that property," said Councilman Robert Fieseler who opposed the original plan. "I think this plan has a really great shot. The component they had that was not in keeping with the zoning and use of that property has been removed, so they've done everything right this time."

Councilman Doug Krause supported the previous plan and said he's even more excited about the new one.

"This time it's even better," Krause said. "They've got real restaurants coming in there and they're giving us the convention center we've been looking for. They've addressed everything."

It appears the only thing that may hinder the project is the developers' plan to seek the same $7.5 million tax rebate incentives recently approved for the Water Street District.

"I need to hear more about these incentives. I've heard $7.5 million will be the ask so we'll see how that gets divvied up," Fieseler said.

The plan could come to the council as soon as May 21.

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