'Secluded residential development' could be coming to north Naperville
No one made any guarantees Monday night, but Naperville City Council members indicated they could be open to residential development on a 58-acre site north of the Nokia building at Naperville and Warrenville roads.
The land now includes nothing but a crumbling parking lot, and its location -- tucked back from the main roads and bordered on three sides by Danada Forest Preserve -- has made it a tough sell under its current zoning of office, research or light industrial, said Christine Jeffries, president of the Naperville Development Partnership.
Previous uses considered for the site included adding it to the forest preserve, selling it to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as a summer concert venue or selling it to one of several transportation companies as a warehouse. The forest preserve couldn't meet the asking price in 2011, Symphony plans fell through in 2014 and Jeffries said a warehouse would have created "all truck traffic with minimal economic impact."
So the indication Monday that council members would consider potentially changing the zoning to residential will be weighed by K. Hovnanian Homes, which is under contract with Nokia to purchase the land, attorney Russ Whitaker said. K. Hovnanian could build between 300 and 500 units on the site in a mix of houses, townhouses or duplexes and apartments.
Located close to I-88, near a main north-south artery in Naperville Road and in between shopping areas in downtown Naperville and along Butterfield Road in Wheaton, Whitaker said the property is better suited for homes instead of an office, research or warehouse facility.
"It creates an opportunity for a nice, secluded residential development in north Naperville, a development the size we haven't seen in a long time," he said.
Neighbors from two small single-family subdivisions and the Danada Woods townhouse subdivision nearby asked Monday about the effects on traffic and nature if K. Hovnanian were to gain permission to build houses.
"We need more specifics so we can understand the impact on our neighborhood," said Jean Arndt, president of the Danada Woods homeowners association.
Whitaker said the developer has a consultant conducting an ecological study and is aware of unique features of the nearby preserve, such as a rookery of 150 great blue heron nests.
"We recognize there are some sensitive ecological resources out here. We want to be good stewards," Whitaker said. "We haven't come to you with a plan that shows us using every inch of this property."
He said the builder plans to add trail connections to the forest preserve and to improve Lucent Lane, the road circling the Nokia land, to make it a public instead of privately maintained roadway.
City Attorney Mike DiSanto cautioned K. Hovnanian, despite the council's indication that residential zoning could be a possibility, to proceed at its own risk.
Any housing built at the site would lie within Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 for schools.