Car wash wins approval in Naperville, but city council isn't exactly enamored of it

Posted10/17/2018 5:40 AM

Some Naperville City Council members said a car wash wasn't what they had in mind when envisioning a revitalized Ogden Avenue.

But those who supported a proposal from a business called Wash-U prevailed, and the use was approved by a 6-3 vote. A Wash-U car wash in bright blue and white hues now is in the works for 1150 E. Ogden Ave., the former site of the shuttered Las Palmas Mexican restaurant.


Operating partners Steve Timmer of Naperville and Craig Nelson of Elmhurst say their business employs a system to reclaim 50 percent to 80 percent of the water used, filter it and use it again in the washing process. The car wash will have three pay stations and two conveyor belts to clean up to 160 cars an hour, they said.

Council members Becky Anderson, Kevin Coyne and Patty Gustin weren't impressed and voted against granting conditional permission to allow the car wash on the site, which is zoned for general commercial uses.

Coyne called the 35,500-square-foot property a "marquee lot" and wondered if something "classier" should go there instead.

"Would a business be deterred in coming in if there's a car wash there?" Coyne asked.

Allison Laff, deputy director of transportation, engineering and development, said such a deterring effect is unlikely. She said the car wash plan leaves a good amount of separation between other buildings and spruces up the site with more landscaping.

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But Coyne's "no" vote proves he still had doubts. And although council member John Krummen voted in favor of the car wash, he said, "We hoped for better, I guess."

But those in support of the business, including Mayor Steve Chirico, said Ogden is a service corridor with car repair shops and businesses to which customers make quick trips. Within that realm, Chirico said, a new car wash fits.

"This is something that will help Ogden Avenue," he said. "We're starting to see Ogden Avenue organically improve."

The eastern section of Ogden in Naperville has some large vacancies in strip malls and former car dealerships.

But Chirico said "a couple large parcels" are under contract.

The Wash-U site is next to a new HomeWerks remodeling business and across the street from a relatively new Panda Express restaurant and Staples office supply store. Attorney Kathy West said the Wash-U project will continue the progress made by those upgrades.


"I think we'll just help the whole revitalization of the corridor," West said.

In allowing the car wash, the council also approved several changes to zoning code that West said were necessary because of the nearly triangular shape of the property.

The changes allow the business to reduce setbacks between the building, the parking lot, a new monument sign, Ogden Avenue and a neighboring residential property.

Laff said it's likely another restaurant or business also would have needed zoning changes in order to fit on the site.

Council members approved the zoning changes unanimously, ushering in Wash-U.

"To me, it's an opportunity to address some of our complaints about Ogden Avenue and bring some new blood to it," Hinterlong said. "I see it as an opportunity that we've been asking for."

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