Naperville Water Street project sunk for good this time?

  • This latest plan failed to garner enough council support Tuesday to move forward in Naperville. Developers now must decide whether to scrap the plan altogether or start from scratch.

    This latest plan failed to garner enough council support Tuesday to move forward in Naperville. Developers now must decide whether to scrap the plan altogether or start from scratch. Rendering courtesy of Marquette Companies

Updated 12/5/2012 1:30 PM

Naperville developers late Tuesday said the proposed Water Street project is likely dead after council members scrapped the plan entirely and punted it back to the city's Planning and Zoning Commission.

Council members debated, for several more hours Tuesday, whether to take a month to digest the developer's latest proposal or make the developer start from scratch by bringing one final attempt before the commission that previously approved slightly different variations of the plan in 2007 and earlier this year.


They said the plan had grown out of control with new changes being made on a weekly basis. Councilman Joe McElroy called the project a "Frankenstein with an arm from over here and a leg from over there."

Kathy West, attorney for Marquette Cos., said the new timeline, which could push the project into the spring of 2013 may have sunk the entire project despite her clients' best efforts.

"It does not appear to be economically feasible, so we'll go back tomorrow and revaluate but based on what we're hearing tonight we will not be able to proceed," West told council members. "I think we're being punished for trying to meet all of the varying opinions we've addressed. We're only responding to what you've told us over the last few weeks. Have our plans changed? Yes but that's only because we're responding to you."

The newest version of the plan, revised after the Nov. 20 council meeting, scrapped 62 apartments and reduced the maximum height of the tallest building to 82 feet from 90.

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A Holiday Inn Express hotel planned for the site, between the DuPage River and Aurora Avenue, with Webster and Main streets as its east-west boundaries, was downsized from six stories to five.

Most of its 163 to 177 rooms would be in a building on the south side of Water Street, but between 62 and 76 would be on the north side in a building bordering the river.

A pedestrian bridge first proposed in 2010 to connect the second floor of both buildings was brought back into the design.

A rooftop restaurant on the hotel was to bring the development's highest point to 82 feet, while most of the main building would have remained 65 feet tall.

Council members and residents opposed to the plan have raised concerns about traffic congestion, parking availability and the height of the proposed buildings.


Unimpressed with the latest version, Councilman Grant Wehrli, an opponent of the project from the start, led the charge to send the project back to plan commission.

"This is a project with more implications than any other project anyone has seen, including the mayor's tenure," he said. "This is a potential game changer and one that everyone up here wants to get right, and no one wants to get wrong. It needs to go back to plan commission so the developer can make a project work that meets the requirement of our zoning. We can't miss on this one."

Councilmen Steve Chirico and Kenn Miller said, by scrapping the plan, they have already missed.

"The Planning and Zoning commission has already approved this (5-2). What are we going to do if they come back with another decision this council doesn't like?" Chirico asked. "We're spinning our wheels here."

Miller agreed and said he believes Marquette President Bruno Bottarelli could make the project with just another month of discussions.

"(Bottarelli) has built in and lives in Naperville, and I believe he sincerely wants to provide a great product that this council will finally decide on," Miller said.

Instead, it may be as late as March before a new plan comes forward, if a new plan comes forward.

Council members said they hope the city's Traffic Advisory Board and Planning and Zoning Commission could meet together or separately in January to hash out any new proposals and have them ready for council review for March.

That clearly was not a feasible timeline for Bottarelli who rushed from city hall, saying only two words.

"I'm speechless," he said.

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