Two years ago, Freedom Plaza and unanimous approval were not synonymous. Fast forward two years and a few major tweaks and everything has changed.
Council members Tuesday voted 9-0 to approve a new Freedom Plaza proposal, which includes a 156,000-square-foot Embassy Suites Hotel with 168 rooms that would include a 13,000-square-foot ballroom and four free-standing restaurants.
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Indiana-based Lakhany Group Investments LLC wants to begin construction in early August on the 13 acres on Abriter Court between Diehl Road and I-88 and west of Freedom Commons shopping center.
In late 2011, council members approved a proposal to build a hotel on the site but refused to rezone the area to allow an Alzheimer's facility that was included in original plans.
Attorney Russ 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.
"This is a unique property, one of few undeveloped along the corridor," Whittaker said. "The location also allows for the westward expansion of Freedom Commons.
"We're really excited about this project."
Councilman Robert Fieseler, who opposed the previous version of the plan in 2011, couldn't have been more supportive of the new proposal.
"This is a huge investment and the property is very challenging, almost forgotten about behind Maggiano's," he said. "So I can't imagine a better use for this property. The plan itself, especially the conference center, is long sought after."
Former council member Dick Furstenau also said he was "wildly supportive of the plan" and urged the council to be just as excited.
"Naperville landing this hotel is almost unbelievable," he said. "It will attract a lot of business for this city."