Naperville getting glimpse at 5th Avenue design concepts
The future of 5th Avenue in Naperville could come with more than 2,800 parking spaces for commuters and others, nearly 400 apartments, roughly 40 condos, a dozen or so brownstones, and various amounts of office, retail and flexible space.
These are some of the specifications in two concept plans for 13 acres of city-owned land near the Naperville Metra Station, sites where a former public works building, a water tower, a couple small buildings and the DuPage Children's Museum now sit.
Ryan Companies, the Minneapolis-based development team that has been working with city officials and residents since October, released the designs ahead of a Wednesday meeting to review them with the public. It begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Naperville municipal center, 400 S. Eagle St.
One design, Concept A, involves leaving the children's museum at 301 N. Washington St., on the south side of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks. The other, Concept B, calls for moving the museum to an unspecified location "off-site."
Other differences involve building heights, numbers of apartments, condos and brownstones, and the amounts of parking, office, retail and flexible-use spaces.
Some members of a steering committee that formed this year are withholding judgment before hearing Ryan Companies further describe the concepts. Others offered preliminary thoughts about the designs, which are expected to be the first of two rounds of drawings before a final plan could be approved.
"My initial reaction is the designs are very responsive to the public input, which is a good thing," said Jim Hill, a member of the steering committee and the city's senior task force.
Hill said both concepts appear to respect height restrictions residents sought along 5th Avenue, where the development area abuts an established neighborhood of older, detached houses. The tallest buildings in Concept A are five-story offices and apartments, while Concept B has six-story apartment buildings.
Hill said both concepts try to address flooding in nearby neighborhoods by including construction of underground stormwater storage vaults.
"They spent a lot of time and they listened," Hill said of Ryan Companies, which also has an office in Naperville.
While the plans spell out in broad terms the numbers of housing units, retail spaces, offices and parking spots, Thom Higgins, a steering committee member who lives nearby, said the concepts also raise questions.
"The large global question here is, 'Is the city and its residents willing to embrace a development that's so very urban and significantly larger and denser than even the downtown?'" Higgins said. "The other big question is, 'Does this help?'"
The helpfulness question applies to pedestrian safety, traffic, commuter access and quality of life for nearby residents, he said.
Ryan Companies thinks the proposals will help life north of downtown and address many hopes and concerns voiced by residents.
"I am pleased with our team's effort and creativity with these initial concepts," Jim McDonald, senior vice president of real estate development for Ryan Companies, said in a news release. "This is the beginning of our design efforts, not the end. Moving forward, we will continue to push for public green space, efficient parking and transit, a diverse mix of uses and the highest quality design."