One more review before 5th Avenue drawings can begin in Naperville
The company that has been engaging Naperville neighbors about redevelopment plans for 13 city-owned acres near the Metra station is not quite ready yet to begin drawing development concepts.
But drawings could begin to take shape next month if the city council gives the go-ahead to Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies.
The company on Tuesday earned permission to continue working for another two months, meeting a requirement the council set in October that approval must be granted every 60 days.
Since early this year, Ryan has been working with several groups of residents it convened to review design, land use, parking, pedestrian safety, stormwater management and traffic at the city-owned sites, which include four parking lots, a former public works building, a water tower, an office building and the property of the DuPage Children's Museum.
Some residents said they're happy with the process, while others worried the company might propose something too tall or too dense on the sites along 5th Avenue.
"We are concerned about what the development is going to bring. Who wouldn't be?" said resident Patty King, a member of the pedestrian safety and connectivity group. "But we're also cautiously optimistic that they're listening."
Residents and city council members say the next issues to be considered are how to pay for improvements to parking and stormwater; how to add attainable, lower-cost housing; how to balance uses including offices, retail and residential; how to listen to both neighbors and commuters; and how to bring a feasible development that will contribute to the city's tax base.
"Currently we have 13 acres that generates no revenue," said Christine Jeffries, president of the Naperville Development Partnership. "It's simply a sea of asphalt."
Resident Sandee Whited and others said results of a survey Ryan Companies recently gave prove the majority of respondents want nothing taller than four stories built on the properties. But even with the potential for that much development, commuter Tom Coyne said he worries it will take longer to access the station and find parking for the 6:04 a.m. Metra train each weekday.
"For commuters, the unintended consequence of this scale of development is congestion," Coyne said.
Ryan Companies plans to host a meeting Wednesday with a steering committee of residents involved with reviewing 5th Avenue conditions; the meeting will help develop core principles to guide proposed development.
"I still think we need more time to collaborate and work on this," council member Becky Anderson said.
After Wednesday's meeting, the firm is scheduled to appear before the council during a July 9 workshop, seeking the ability to begin drawings of proposed buildings for the sites.
The city has said the firm must retain the roughly 1,600 parking spots currently hosted on the land, but has given few other set-in-stone parameters.