Top 5th Avenue concerns in Naperville: Land use, traffic

  • These sites along 5th Avenue in Naperville are the topic of a planning process going on now to determine how they can be redeveloped.

      These sites along 5th Avenue in Naperville are the topic of a planning process going on now to determine how they can be redeveloped. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

Updated 11/3/2017 6:01 PM

Land use and traffic are emerging as top concerns about redevelopment plans for 5th Avenue near the Naperville Metra station.

But close behind are issues of stormwater, green space, pedestrian access, the commuter experience and parking.


Ryan Companies, the development firm chosen to create a vision for 13 acres of city-owned sites, is listening to all such concerns as officials gather input to inform their designs, said Jim McDonald, vice president of real estate development.

"It's an important topic," McDonald said about redevelopment of the properties, which include four parking lots, a former public works building, a water tower, an office building and the DuPage Children's Museum. "And we aren't in a hurry."

Promises to take time understanding and synthesizing resident wants and concerns seemed to only somewhat satisfy residents at Ryan Companies' fourth group input session Friday afternoon. Some who attended said they want very little to be built on the land, which they see as a solution to flooding, traffic congestion and a lack of nearby park space.

"I don't want high density," neighbor Dana Aldrich said. "Our schools are already crowded."

A few among the roughly 20 in attendance Friday afternoon said a small retail presence with commuter-focused shops, such as a coffee house or a specialty grocer, could fit right in and be welcomed. Such shops especially could prosper if developers add a raised pedestrian walkway heading east/west over Washington Street.

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"I think more people would utilize these shops if there was better connectivity," resident Elizabeth Kelly said.

But others, including resident Scott Zmrhal, cautioned against overbuilding retail, saying there are already plenty of vacancies along Ogden Avenue and some in downtown.

"There is no unmet need I have that needs to be at any of these locations," Zmrhal said.

Next steps in what's expected to be a monthslong design process include a progress update next week and selection of members for a steering committee and topic-specific working groups that will research conditions and guide ideas for the future.

Already some residents are expressing worries about how their input is being received. Some at Friday's meeting questioned the minutes posted from previous sessions because they said all comments were listed and presented with equal weight and importance, no matter how many -- or how few -- people supported them.

McDonald said Ryan Companies invites participants to submit their comments or corrections to the minutes posted on Comments will be posted unedited, he said. "I actually agree with the way you're doing this," resident Denise Nigro said. "I think it's fine to put all the ideas out there and give everyone time to percolate on them and think about what they want."

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