Dist. 204 students promote Naperville development in 'real-life marketing situation'
Marketing students at three Naperville-area high schools walked around the Naperville Crossings shopping district Tuesday during school hours, listing names of restaurants they'd like to see in the development.
Portillo's, Steak 'n Shake, and Chipotle were a few chains mentioned by students from Waubonsie Valley High School as they strolled past the mix of shops, restaurants and a movie theater at Route 59 and 95th Street.
The students weren't playing hooky; they were participating in a marketing competition in which they will be challenged to attract new businesses to vacant storefronts and empty lots at Naperville Crossings.
"It's a real-life marketing situation that could have a real-life impact on the community," Indian Prairie Unit District 204 Superintendent Karen Sullivan said about the competition, called Mission 60564. "We always try to simulate things, but this is for real."
Naperville Crossings was imagined as a "second downtown" when the concept for an entertainment destination and gathering place was approved in 2003, said Robert Fieseler, a city council member who helped start the marketing competition.
Shops and restaurants were supposed to be built facing Showplace Drive, located just west of Route 59, and the area was supposed to be highly walkable.
But the recession hit three years after construction began in 2005 and things weren't built exactly according to plan. Most businesses face Route 59 for exposure to the roughly 50,000 vehicles that travel the road each day, said Ari Rosenthal, a real estate attorney who helped lead tours for Mission 60564 participants on Tuesday.
The development includes restaurants such as Biaggi's, Houlihan's, Starbucks and Panera Bread and shops including Sport Clips, WineStyles and a couple of banks. But five lots sit vacant and nine storefronts are available. Fieseler hopes students from Waubonsie, Neuqua Valley and Metea Valley high schools can help fill them by creating marketing plans targeting certain businesses.
"What do we need to do to bring this development into shape," Fieseler said. "It's up to you to decide what you want here for your neighborhood, for your shopping and entertainment to make this the second downtown."
Waubonsie sophomore Gianmarco Corral, one of about 250 students participating in Mission 60564, said he'd like to see "something very laid-back," at Naperville Crossing. Something "like a dining house or a coffee house," he said.
Fieseler said students should use their buying power and the demographics of the area to build their marketing plans before in-school presentations in December. The 60564 ZIP code has an average household income of $138,125 and 69 percent of adult residents have college degrees, students were told Tuesday.
"I'm hoping they recognize that this ZIP code is very, very special," Fieseler said. "And I think you're going to make the case for that."
Finalists from each school will present their ideas to the city council, Naperville Development Partnership and other business leaders next February.