New apartments approved in Naperville, but school district raises crowding concerns
Naperville will see 285 new apartments, one new rooftop event center and $200,000 in new funding for affordable or attainable housing through a project called Lincoln at CityGate Centre.
Supporters said the new construction will complement a hotel and restaurants on the CityGate campus near Route 59 and I-88 and mix well with projects in the works nearby, including a hockey arena and concert venue.
But Indian Prairie Unit District 204 estimates it could see 113 new students from the apartments, which officials say is problematic.
"Brookdale Elementary School, Hill Middle School and Metea Valley High School are all overcrowded and cannot house these students without building modifications and the use of alternative instructional spaces," Jay Strang, District 204's chief school business official, wrote in a letter to the city council. "The cost to modify the schools and possibility of transporting these students to schools on the south end of the district is cost-prohibitive."
Over the district's objection, the city council early Wednesday approved the Lincoln at CityGate plan for a five-story building with a courtyard, an outdoor pool, an interior parking garage, a fitness center, a resident lounge and a dog spa.
City estimates show the apartments would generate roughly 22 students, based on the inclusion of 20 studios, 179 one-bedrooms apartments, and 86 two-bedroom units. The developer will pay an impact fee of $165,579.
But District 204 said it only would support the apartments if the fee was raised to $846,423 to cover the 113 students it expects, based on the ratio it sees from apartments already within its borders.
If the school district raises a formal complaint, it will need to be addressed before the city records a final plat of subdivision for the property.
Otherwise, the apartment plan can move forward, and city council members said they are excited for construction to begin.
"I love this development," Mayor Steve Chirico said. "I think it's going to be good for Naperville."
There was some debate among council members about whether to accept the developer's offer of $200,000 to support future affordable or attainable housing initiatives.
Council members Kevin Coyne and Benjamin White said they do not want to create a precedent by which developers make extra payments in order for their projects to be approved. And council member Patty Gustin said it would be premature to accept the money without a structured process for receiving such funds or an identified cost on which to spend it.
Gustin voted against accepting the donation, but the rest of the council supported it.
"I'm a little amazed we'd even consider not accepting the money," council member Patrick Kelly said, especially considering speakers during a recent workshop raised affordable housing as a major concern. "It wouldn't burn a hole in our pocket. This can be a long-term situation."
City Attorney Mike DiSanto said the council can earmark the money within its social services grant or another fund to ensure it is used to support affordable or attainable housing.