How 'micro-apartment' plan could transform Naperville motel
People who previously have been priced out of living in Naperville could have a new way in if the city council approves a plan for a "micro-apartment" remodel of a motel along Ogden Avenue.
The plan by Naperville Apartments LLC., an entity controlled by Skokie developer MZ Capital Partners, would turn the 123-room Regency Inn into 112 studio apartments of roughly 300 square feet each, targeted toward anyone who otherwise might not be able to afford rent in Naperville, project attorney Vince Rosanova said during a meeting last month.
The city council is set to consider the project during its meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, at the Naperville Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle St. The plan comes with a unanimous recommendation for approval from the city's planning and zoning commission, which gave its OK to a zoning change that would be necessary for development, as well as decreases to lot size and parking space requirements.
City staff members support the plan, too, as it would refresh a motel described by the planning team as an "underperforming" use along Ogden Avenue.
"The Regency Inn has certainly seen better days," Rosanova said. "It now suffers from low occupancy as well as deferred maintenance and has become a safety concern for the surrounding residents."
The project would be "truly transformative" and a "total gut restoration," with new landscaping, outdoor relaxation areas, large windows facing Ogden and new vertical paneling to add interest to the outside walls, Rosanova said.
Apartment residents would have access to a coworking space, a lounge, a fitness center and a free bike rental program in addition to a unit of their own with a kitchen, bathroom and a stackable clothes washer and dryer. They also would live within a five-minute walk of grocery stores -- including an Aldi next-door -- a pharmacy, a movie theater, a Pace bus stop and plenty of other stores along the Ogden commercial corridor.
Rosanova called the micro-apartment development a "creative solution to restore this blighted area," as well as a way to bring a lower-rent option into the market.
Naperville is looking to increase its number of "affordable" housing units in order to comply with a state law that requires 10 percent of housing in each municipality to count as affordable. The city now has 7.5 percent affordable housing, with 3,800 homes out of its stock of roughly 50,000 that meet the definition.
Three speakers before the planning and zoning commission vote voiced support for the apartments. But one speaker, Liz Baumgart, raised concerns about traffic and said the apartments would not serve to beautify the area of Ogden near Naper Boulevard on the city's northeast side, long a city priority for revitalization.
Rosanova said the architectural changes planned would spruce up the look of the Regency Inn, which is painted in a light yellow with green doors leading to each room, green railings and blue trim. A pole sign, which doesn't comply with the city's sign code, but still "decorates the property," also would come down, he said.