Mayor says new businesses in Wheaton 'a welcome sign'
Community development was the hot topic during Wheaton Mayor Michael Gresk's State of the City address Thursday at Cantigny Park.
Gresk highlighted many new businesses that have opened within the past year and more that are coming soon, including a relocated Whole Foods that is scheduled to open Wednesday, a Sierra Trading Post and a Starbucks in Danada Square East Shopping Center, as well as new downtown restaurants and shops like OMG! Cafe and Choun's and Miroballi Shoes.
"New businesses in Wheaton are always a welcome sign, and it's been refreshing to see once vacant spaces now being occupied," he said.
After a video was played highlighting the major 2016 developments, Gresk fielded questions about ongoing projects.
For example, he announced that the Macaroni Grill at 21 Blanchard Circle that has been closed since a fire last January is scheduled to reopen in about four weeks.
City staff members added that lease negotiations are ongoing and an announcement likely will occur soon regarding the recently vacated Sports Authority and Whole Foods locations in Rice Lake Square Shopping Center.
Aside from new businesses, Gresk praised the seamless transition that has occurred on the city staff, with longtime City Manager Don Rose retiring and Michael Dzugan taking over the role. In the past year there have also been changes in the police and human resources departments, and a new public information officer was hired.
"It's just a real joy to work with them," Gresk said. "People like me come and go. It's your longtime staffers that make your community great."
Gresk noted the reorganization of the Wheaton Library, which resulted in an expanded teen space and the addition of a business resource center, among other changes.
He also voiced excitement about the start of engineering on phase one of the downtown streetscape project this year, which will focus on Front Street from West Street to Cross Street.
There were positive trends in the housing market too, with a 14 percent increase in the number of single-family homes and a 9 percent increase in single-family remodeling projects.
While less glamorous, Gresk also said city crews improved more than 5 miles of streets last year and replaced storm sewers, curbs and water mains. In addition, the city launched a new garbage, recycling and yard waste program and initiated a redesign of the wheaton.il.us website, to improve its usability and make it easier for residents to pay water and sewer bills, parking tickets and some business license fees.