Naperville council again delays Water Street vote
Not even a shiny red fire truck could help them make up their minds.
Naperville City Council members spent four hours Tuesday debating the proposed Water Street project before again delaying the vote for at least two weeks. The subject can be discussed again on Dec. 4.
For the second consecutive meeting, council members weighed the pros and cons of the proposal that promises to bring a 131-room, seven-story Holiday Inn hotel with a rooftop restaurant to downtown Naperville along with 62 apartments; restaurant, retail and office space; a 580-space parking deck; and streetscape and plaza improvements for the Riverwalk.
Some council members said they would support the project while a majority still were not ready to budge on the project's height, density and impact on downtown parking and traffic.
Prior to the meeting, Councilman Grant Wehrli arranged for a Naperville Fire Department truck to be positioned near the proposed site just south of the DuPage River and between Main and Webster streets and extended the ladder to 83 feet to simulate the highest point of the proposed structure.
Marquette Properties architect and developer Bruno Bottarelli called the tactic a deceitful effort to thwart his project, which he maintains will be an economic engine and fulfill several needs in the downtown.
Twenty-nine residents spoke during the meeting, split almost evenly for and against the proposal. Some, like opponent Dick Galitz, pleaded with the council to deny the project outright.
"I don't know why the city should grant any exceptions to anything along our beautiful Riverwalk," Galitz said.
Marcia Straub called the proposal "immense."
"It is not appropriate for this space," she said. "It's too high, too dense and overwhelming our downtown."
Others, like Ted Gradel, said the height and density of the project is a trade-off for the benefits he thinks it will bring.
"This project will bring vitality, new business and new revenues to the city," he said.
Tom Dusek said he's excited for the potential of a downtown hotel.
"I love the idea of this project. I think this is an exciting project," he said. "I've wondered for years why we haven't had a downtown hotel."
Council members, however could not come to a consensus. Rather than potentially kill the project, Councilman Steve Chirico invoked council rules, ending all discussion of the topic until Dec. 4
During that time, Chirico said he hopes Bottarelli's team is able to come up with a "Plan B" that could garner the support of the entire council.
Bottarelli, however, was clearly distraught after Tuesday's non-decision.
"This surprised me. I was expecting there would be more of a desire to recognize the benefits against the challenges," he said. "Any time you do anything creative you're going to get a challenge because it's change and change is threatening to people."
Bottarelli said he's not sure if two weeks is enough time to come up with a new plan. He said he will be talking to his investors to gauge whether they wish to continue the project in Naperville.
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