Several properties owned or leased by the city near the Naperville 5th Avenue Metra station could be in store for a creative face-lift if developers impress the city with their ideas.
The city council on Tuesday voted to seek proposals from development companies, teams or individuals who could re-imagine sites near the train station, including four parking lots, a water tower and former public works facility, a small business building, and the DuPage Children's Museum property.
"I really would like to see whatever somebody out there has in mind," council member Kevin Gallaher said.
The idea is to seek qualifications from developers in a preliminary step toward bringing some new vitality to the area near the train station just north of downtown Naperville.
Roughly five blocks wide and two blocks long, the area of "opportunity sites" for which the city is seeking ideas stretches east to west from Loomis Street to Main Street and north to south from 5th Avenue to North/Spring avenues. It's anchored by the 5th Avenue Station building housing a collection of businesses in the former Kroehler Manufacturing Company factory north of the tracks and by roughly 1,500 commuter parking spaces in several surface lots.
Gallaher said he hopes for between 15 and 20 "pie-in-the-sky" proposals to begin discussing with nearby residents.
City Manager Doug Krieger said staff members kept restrictions to a minimum in the request for qualifications. But the request did suggest developers use the 5th Avenue Station building as a reference when designing building heights and did ask that roughly the same amount of commuter parking be maintained. It also mentioned the children's museum's long-term lease with the city through 2030 and its desire for outdoor programming space.
"One of the things we really wanted to avoid was restricting developer creativity," Krieger said.
Proposals are set to be due May 23. The city then plans to interview selected development teams to form a short list for potential council approval this summer.
Seeking qualifications doesn't require the city to accept any of the ideas to redevelop a site. But plans for the 5th Avenue area could become more specific in a future request for proposals, which would draw more formal and detailed responses, Krieger said.
The city is seeking developer qualifications shortly after a group of about 45 architecture students from Naperville Central and Naperville North high schools embarked on a project to present their own redevelopment ideas for the roughly 8-acre area. Student proposals are due April 27.