Auto shop staying put while Naperville creates 5th Avenue plans
An auto shop can continue operating for six months in Naperville's 5th Avenue redevelopment zone as the city takes its time to determine the area's future.
The days appeared numbered a year ago for James Tomisek's shop, Partners in Performance Automotive Service and Repair, when the city bought the property on which the shop leases its space at 420 N. Center St.
The purchase last December of the 1.5-acre site near the Metra station helped pave the way for the city to seek qualifications from developers to revamp roughly 13 acres along the 5th Avenue corridor. Developer submissions led to the selection in October of Ryan Companies to lead a public input and visioning process to plan what should be built.
But the process is displacing tenants like Partners in Performance.
Tomisek said he first was given 30 days to vacate the space. But the city extended his lease for 12 months, giving him until the end of this year to find a new location.
"For the past year, I haven't been able to grow my business because I don't know what lies ahead," Tomisek said. "You can't market too much or try and make any big decisions because you don't know where you're going to be or where that next step is. It's been tough."
He's searched for a new address and considered one in Lisle. But he hasn't found anything comparable -- especially not where he can fix customers' cars while they ride the train to and from work.
"I'd like to stay there," Tomisek said. "And I think Naperville can still use an auto shop in that area."
He said he's pitched the idea to Ryan Companies of building a space for a car repair shop into a parking garage that could help meet commuter demand. And he's willing to share his input as a 5th Avenue-area business owner during the redevelopment process.
Tomisek remains unsure of the long-term future of his business, but he can stay at 420 N. Center through the end of June, after the city council recently approved another lease extension.
Allowing the business to stay put makes sense, City Manager Doug Krieger said, because it provides revenue while 5th Avenue designs are being created. If the city kicked out Partners in Performance now, months before planning is expected to conclude and even longer before construction could begin, Krieger said the site would remain dormant.
Tomisek will pay the city $2,040 a month for a total of $12,240 throughout the six-month lease.
"I think it's definitely worth it for them to get money right now for something that's just sitting there," he said.
Progress toward redevelopment is set to continue with an update from Ryan Companies to the city council at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19, in the municipal center at 400 S. Eagle St.
The firm is expected to share findings from several group input sessions hosted since early October, which have gathered ideas and concerns from more than 150 residents.
Ryan Companies, which is based in Minneapolis and has an office in Naperville, is working with the city to form a steering committee and several working groups that will further guide the planning process by addressing topics such as commuter issues, land use, traffic, parking and stormwater. These panels are expected to form early next year.