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updated: 4/4/2014 1:28 PM

Blend of office, fitness, day care gets Naperville planners' OK

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A change to a Naperville development planned in 2006 that would bring a fitness and day care facility instead of several office buildings met approval from planning and zoning commission members.

They called the new plan "a lot better than the original" idea for the site.

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Pending city council approval, Naperville Sports Yard could build a 101,140-square-foot building on Legacy Circle south of Diehl Road to house two turf fields, four courts for basketball and volleyball, a six-lane track, concessions stands, offices and a day care center.

"Naperville Sports Yard is an indoor sports facility that caters to the local community," said Bill Perry of Watermark Engineering of Aurora, who has worked on designs for the project.

The planning and zoning commission unanimously recommended Naperville Sports Yard and a 9,100-square-foot office building be built to replace eight office buildings originally planned for the development south of Diehl just west of Freedom Road.

"This looks positively lovely to me," commissioner Robert Williams said. "It's kind of switching one kind of project for another and this one is certainly not worse; it's probably a lot better than the original."

Four office buildings already exist on the site, which is between the DeVry University and Northern Illinois University campuses on Diehl. The area is zoned for research and development, and fitness facilities are allowed in such zoning districts without special permission, said Ying Liu with the city's planning services team.

"The proposed use would complement the existing offices uses in the (development) by providing fitness and day care services to support the employment population," Liu said about Naperville Sports Yard.

If the city council grants approval of new plans, the Naperville location would be a second location of a similar fitness facility in Westmont called Westmont Yard. The Westmont facility is smaller at 73,000 square feet and includes a restaurant instead of basketball/volleyball courts, but it otherwise offers many of the same opportunities for soccer, football, and cheerleading practices and competitions, Perry said.

The proposed Naperville Sports Yard has been designed to match the color and materials of other buildings in the area. Windows have been added on the front and back to break up the building's large size and offer views to the athletic activities going on inside.

Also included in development plans are 355 new parking spaces, an outdoor playground for the day care and new paths to connect existing buildings with a retention pond and the new sports yard and office.

The development would not be far from Naperville Park District's Nike Sports Complex, which offers an outdoor turf field, but planning and zoning commission Chairwoman Patricia Gustin said Naperville Sports Yard could fill a seasonal void in field availability.

"The soccer students are going to be ecstatic about this. We have Nike park just down the way, but they really can't play in the wintertime," Gustin said. "So this is going to be a wonderful asset for the community."

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