Developer seeking to 'be bold' with Naperville's 5th Avenue design
The new baseline concept for a redeveloped area around the Naperville Metra station soon could become more complete if the city council approves the continuation of work by developer Ryan Companies.
The council is set to host its first discussion of the new design for the 13-acre area, released Sept. 17, during its meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the municipal center at 400 S. Eagle St.
The design updates a plan presented in August 2018 that led to several decisions about the future of the area, among them that the DuPage Children's Museum should stay in place and that the project should include 20% affordable housing and between 250 and 400 more commuter parking spaces.
Council members on Tuesday could direct Ryan Companies to conduct a more detailed study to address concerns raised this month about the new concept. During a public presentation and a meeting of the 5th Avenue steering committee, residents brought up issues such as traffic, student safety walking to school, the location of proposed affordable housing, the desire to protect green space and the need for stormwater storage.
Future traffic, financial and other studies by the developer could begin to answer these and other questions about what the city-owned sites near the train station will become. These days, the sites are mostly a collection of parking lots, along with a water tower, an office building and the children's museum.
"Moving forward with this baseline concept is the pathway to get to the next level of analysis -- to finally really know the impacts of this development," Amy Emery, operations manager in the city's transportation, engineering and development department, said in a memo.
The 5th Avenue steering committee, which the city convened to guide decisions about the project, voted during a meeting Monday that the baseline concept is a reasonable starting point for discussion and that it should include all components so far drawn into the plan: market-rate apartments, affordable housing, workforce-affordable housing, row houses, offices, retail, green space, health and wellness space, a public plaza, stormwater storage vaults, a new pedestrian tunnel and parking garages.
The new plan includes these features in a six-story parking deck near the children's museum, three five-story apartment buildings, a five-story office building, a two-story flexible-space building and a cluster of row houses.
The project as a whole would aim to meet standards for WELL Certified Community status from the International WELL Building Institute. These include a focus on air, water, light, sound, thermal comfort, nourishment, movement, mind and materials for a healthy community.
The first public meeting about the new design lasted four hours as Ryan Companies answered questions from residents with conflicting desires for what the project should become and what problems it should fix.
"Whether your concern is stormwater or your passion is green space, if it's commuter experience or height, if it's safer school routes or sustainability -- we all should be pushing ourselves, whichever group you represent, to create the best development possible," said Jim McDonald, Ryan Companies' senior vice president of real estate development. "And that's really what our objective is."
McDonald said his team has been "laser-focused" on creating "a multipurpose hub for community connectivity," and he asked residents to continue challenging the firm to make its ideas better.
"We're trying to be bold," he said. "Let's dream big. Let's try and create a development that is going to be the catalyst for what's to come."