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updated: 10/3/2013 2:49 PM

Dance studio claims first-floor space in downtown Naperville

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Downtown Naperville is getting a new fitness destination in a first-floor storefront near the Apple Store, despite a zoning requirement that usually prohibits such "service uses" below the second floor.

City council members Tuesday night voted 7 to 1 to let Pure Barre open a dance studio in the space at 144 W. Jefferson Ave., mainly because the business also will sell women's workout apparel and accessories, displaying the goods prominently in windows facing Jefferson and Webster Street.

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Council members other than Doug Krause, who cast his vote against allowing the dance studio to open on the first floor, said they think Pure Barre will complement the retail mix available in downtown Naperville.

"I think this is a great addition to downtown," Councilman Grant Wehrli said about the business, which described its clients as 86 percent women who are "very affluent" and willing to drive 25 to 30 minutes for dance classes two or three times a week. "I think it's the type of demographics that would do well. It truly is a draw."

Pure Barre, which has 140 locations in 36 states, will use roughly 700 square feet of the 1,351-square-foot space to display products for sale, including the studio's own apparel line and yoga or workout clothing brands Lululemon, Karma and Splits59, said Chris Dalton, director of real estate. The studio plans to offer between six and eight classes a day beginning at 5:30 a.m.

"We know our presentation and the view from your street in Naperville will be very nice," Dalton said. "We're very confident in our ability to grow retail to about 50 percent of our business in Naperville."

Some downtown business owners, including Stephanie Norris who runs a dance studio called The Bar Method on the second floor of the Main Street Promenade above Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House, opposed the move to allow Pure Barre's studio to occupy first-floor space usually designated as solely retail. Norris said granting such permission is unfair to studios like hers, which were required to choose a location above ground level.

Councilman Paul Hinterlong originally said he feared granting Pure Barre's request would open the floodgates for several more fitness studios to seek first-floor downtown space.

But Allison Laff, planning and operations manager, said the move does not set a precedent. Each request for a zoning variance to locate a service-related business, such as a bank, beauty salon or training studio, on the first floor will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis so staff members, the planning and zoning commission and the council can consider the characteristics of the space in question.

In Pure Barre's case, the building it will occupy is at the far west end of the retail core of downtown Naperville, with Nichols Library across the street.

"We have recognized this portion as being on the fringe of the prime retail area," Laff said, making Pure Barre's hybrid retail/dance studio business model seem appropriate.

Steve Rubin, who owns the property, said frozen yogurt shops, sandwich shops and a business wanting to sell accessories for teenage girls have approached him about leasing the space, but he rejected those ideas in favor of Pure Barre.

"This prospective tenant fed the mix that we feel is important to the downtown," Rubin said. "We feel we are protecting the balance."

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