When the Water Street District opens in downtown Naperville, it'll bring restaurants and boutiques, of course, but also a place for parents to drop off their kids while mom and dad enjoy more grown-up activities.
Traveling Tots will open at the corner of Webster and Water streets once the first phase of the $93 million development is complete in the fall of 2016, and it will offer a place for parents to leave their children for up to two hours of supervised play and creative programming.
Naperville resident Marisa Fallara is developing the business, which also will offer high-end children's retail, birthday parties and a drop-in play space where parents can stay and enjoy time with their kids.
But what will set Traveling Tots apart from other children-focused shops, Fallara says, is the drop-off programming that will include activities such as children's yoga, jewelry making, art classes and music that kids ages 2 to 7 can participate in while their parents gain some adult time.
"There's nowhere in the area that I would trust to leave my child, so I wanted to provide that for other moms," said Fallara, whose son, Carmen, is 5. "So I came up with this idea to do a program-based drop-off system."
Fallara said she'll hire people with a background as educators who love kids to run the programs she's developing. And with her seven years experience in the luxury retail jewelry industry, she said she'll display kids' clothing, toys, strollers and other gear for sale.
"I'm trying to bring in the latest and greatest," Fallara said.
A Naperville native, Fallara calls the Water Street District, being built on 2.4 acres just south of the DuPage River between Main and Webster streets, a "perfect location" for her first business venture. Along the Riverwalk, near established shops and restaurants and future destinations such as Bien Trucha Mexican restaurant and Blue Sushi Sake Grill, Fallara says parents will find a safe and fun place for their children to play if they want to have lunch with a friend or run errands.
She aims to partner with downtown Naperville restaurants to provide peanut-free meals that parents can order while their children are playing as well as deals for establishments the parents might patronize while temporarily child-free.
The 158-room Hotel Indigo that will anchor the Water Street District also provides a natural connection to the Traveling Tots business, although it isn't completely aimed at those on vacation or work trips.
"The name traveling really comes from the child traveling away from the parent to explore their own independence," Fallara said. "It also allows parents to explore their independence."
Fallara has a year of construction on the Water Street District to finalize her plans. The first elements of the development, which also includes a 520-space parking garage and a 250-seat banquet center called Elements, are predicted to begin opening in fall 2016.
Developers with Marquette Companies say excavation and foundation work is continuing after the April groundbreaking on the project and contractors plan to begin installing precast material for the buildings in August.