How Naperville building could complete Water Street block

The Water Street District in downtown Naperville takes up most of a city block on both sides of the street just south of the DuPage River, but one corner of the parcel remains undeveloped.

A building called River Main is in the works to finish the site with space for retail, offices and restaurants at the now-grassy northwest corner of Main and Water streets.

Plans for the five-story building moved forward Wednesday when the planning and zoning commission gave unanimous approval to variances related to building height and floor area. That means all property owner Steve Rubin needs to begin construction on schedule in March is city council approval and a building permit.

The River Main building is proposed to be 69 feet tall to the roof deck, with a highest point at 74 feet. Adjacent buildings on Water Street are 61 feet, 8 inches tall to the roof deck, with highest points at 69 feet tall.

"The height will allow that fifth story to align and square off the development there on Water Street," Rubin said.

The rest of the block was developed by Marquette Companies in a $93 million project completed in late 2016. The transformation brought lodging back to downtown Naperville with the 158-room Hotel Indigo, and it added several restaurants, a banquet center, boutiques, 500 feet of Riverwalk path, a fountain, a plaza, murals and 521 parking spaces.

Rubin said he wasn't yet ready to develop his property just east of the Marquette project when Water Street District construction began in 2015. But five years later, he said, he's seen the success of the hotel, shops and restaurants, so he better understands how the mix of tenants he expects to bring to River Main will fit in.

"We're a relatively small piece of the whole Water Street development," he said. "We're really interested in following how it evolved."

The design of the proposed building steps back the fifth story so some parts of the structure are shorter, Rubin said. The effect will match what's already there, making the 9 feet of height above what typically would be allowed in the downtown zoning district a nonissue, planning and zoning commission Vice Chairman Krishna Bansal said.

"If we lower the height, it will not really look right," Bansal said. "It will look out of place."

The commission also was OK with the request for a larger floor area than code would allow because the building's corner lot and river frontage don't allow for a traditional loading dock or outdoor garbage enclosure.

"Because of the configuration of the building, the location, we really don't have a back door," Rubin said. "We have three fronts."

Glass will be a key material on all three visible "fronts" of the building, facing north, east and south in a design that also won kudos from planning and zoning commissioners.

"The architecture and shape of the building is balanced and looks very perfect for that space," Bansal said. "It'll be a great addition to the city of Naperville."

River Main is designed as a five-story building with space for retail, restaurants and offices at the northwest corner of Main and Water streets in downtown Naperville. Courtesy of Steve Rubin
  The northwest corner of Main and Water streets in downtown Naperville is anticipated to be under construction beginning this spring to build a retail, office and restaurant center called River Main. Marie Wilson/
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