Naperville considering 4 sites for popular kids museum
Four sites could provide a new home for the DuPage Children's Museum if officials decide to move it from its current location at 301 N. Washington St. in Naperville to make way for new uses as part of the 5th Avenue redevelopment plan.
Officials are not publicly naming the sites in consideration, but Mayor Steve Chirico said they were discussed last week during the first meeting of a group of city and museum officials aiming to decide the facility's future.
All of the potential locations are in Naperville, meaning the city and the museum can start from the same vantage point of wanting to retain the children's educational play center as a cultural asset, museum Director Sarah Orleans said.
"The win for the city is having a really amazing children's museum in their community, and that's not going to change," Orleans said. "The city's been a great partner. We all want what's best."
Future conversations, set to resume in about two weeks, are set to focus on financial viability of the other potential locations and the museum's true Plan A, Chirico said.
The museum's property is included as one of eight city-owned sites on 13 acres along 5th Avenue, all near the train station. So it's included in a redevelopment zone the city has been focused on for nearly two years, working with developer Ryan Companies since October 2017 to gather community ideas and progress toward a plan.
Two versions of ideas for the site so far call for 2,800 parking spaces for commuters and others, nearly 400 apartments, roughly 40 condos, a dozen or so brownstones, and various amounts of office, retail and flexible space. One concept keeps the museum on Washington just south of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks, while the other moves it off-site and replaces it with parking as well as mixed-use buildings with retail and residential space.
"This is not their idea to move, so they are trying to be open-minded to that as a possibility. But they're very happy where they're at," Chirico said. "Ultimately, if they were given a choice, it'd probably be, 'Hey, look, we want to stay, and let's work with that scenario.' If that's the final outcome, then we'll spend the rest of our working group time working on those types of planning."
If the museum stays, Chirico said the city, museum leaders and planners with Ryan Companies have to work out parking, traffic, safety, logistics and what else should be built on the site to complement the facility so everything "looks like it was intentional."
If it goes, Chirico said officials have to solve the financing question of how to fund the move and pay for a new site.
The museum, established in 1987, has occupied the colorful two-story building in Naperville since May 19, 2001. The city took ownership in 2011, leasing it back to the museum under a 20-year deal.
The property was hit with an interior flood caused by a burst pipe in January 2015. The damage caused the museum to relocate to a space at Fox Valley Mall in Aurora until September 2015.
The next discussion of 5th Avenue is set for Tuesday during a city council meeting at 7 p.m. in the municipal center at 400 S. Eagle St.