A 17-acre parcel intended for commercial use that didn't develop during the building boom on Route 59 near Ogden Avenue and 75th Street in Naperville instead may be zoned for housing.
City staff members are reviewing a proposal from M/I Homes seeking medium-density multifamily zoning for the land east of Route 59 and north of Audrey Avenue. M/I Homes wants to build 138 townhouses on the site, which now is zoned for commercial development as a community shopping center.
Six councilmen voted last week in favor of changing the zoning to allow residential development, and the proposal will be discussed again next month.
Several councilmen said they think commercial development is unlikely, despite the site's location near two busy shopping corridors.
The site has only two thin strips of frontage on Route 59 and none on Ogden Avenue or 75th Street, while most of it is hidden behind a Penny Mustard furniture store on 59 and a Pep Boys and a cabinet shop on Ogden. Available land is divided among at least three owners, which makes commercial development a challenge, according to city staff analysis.
Allowing M/I Homes to build Mayfair phase 2, a $40 million townhouse development west of the original Mayfair subdivision, would be the best use of the land, Councilman Grant Wehrli said.
"Putting residential there to continue what Mayfair has to the east is good, sound land planning," he said.
When Mayfair was approved in 2006, councilmen said the area currently being discussed should retain commercial zoning. Although stores such as Costco, Whole Foods and Wal-Mart have come to the area since 2006, nothing has been built on the land owned by Cassandra Book.
"All this commercial came to 59 and 75th, and yet nothing developed here," Wehrli said. "Why? Because it's not commercial property. In my opinion, it's residential."
Councilmen Paul Hinterlong, Steve Chirico, Bob Fieseler, David Wentz and Judith Brodhead joined Wehrli in supporting a change to residential zoning, while Councilman Doug Krause and Mayor George Pradel opposed the switch and Councilman Joe McElroy abstained.
"They've got a good development -- why would we stand in the way?" Hinterlong said. "This is going to only enhance this area and they can feed off all the malls over there. I think it's a well-designed development and I'm all for it."
Opposing a change in zoning are nearby land owners who say they hope their sites can be combined with Book's for one larger development. If councilmen approve the change to residential zoning, land owners like Santo Albanese and Giuseppe Barbarotta said they will lose the ability to attract a shopping center like Springbrook Prairie on 75th Street.
Krause said he would not vote to change commercially zoned land to residential, and Pradel said he was opposing the change because city staff members and the planning and zoning commission both rejected it.
The council plans to take up land use discussions again at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20 in the municipal center at 400 S. Eagle St.