Museum, parking considerations halting 5th Avenue planning in Naperville
Naperville is taking a step back from its plans to redevelop the area around 5th Avenue and the downtown train station.
The city council on Tuesday instructed the firm working on the project not to progress to the next phase in concept development until officials address issues related to land use and parking on the 13 acres of city-owned land included in the redevelopment zone.
First, officials want to wait for a recommendation about the future location of the DuPage Children's Museum, which sits on one of the properties slated for redevelopment. A group of city and museum officials is due to issue a recommendation by mid-November.
The council also is awaiting a recommendation about how many additional parking spaces it would take to make a noticeable difference in the waiting list for a quarterly commuter parking permit at the Metra station. That waiting list now stands at 14 years.
Jennifer Louden, deputy director of transportation, engineering and development, said that recommendation also is expected in November.
While waiting for those proposals, council members unanimously decided to instruct Ryan Companies not to move toward refining two concepts presented in August into one. The earliest the council could give the company the green light is now Dec. 4.
The museum's location at 301 N. Washington St. could be key to revitalizing the area because officials see it as a prime spot to provide parking for commuters coming from south of the tracks.
But if the museum can't stay where it has been since 2001, on a property the city bought in 2011, officials say they want to find a place for it to continue operating in Naperville. Four sites are under consideration, but officials have not publicly named them or determined if any are economically feasible.
As for the overwhelming demand for the 1,681 commuter parking spaces at the Naperville station, transportation staffer Louden said part of the problem is some permit-holders keep the passes when they're not commuting, resulting in unused spaces -- even though the city oversells the permits.
On the busiest days, Louden said up to 90 percent of the 918 permit parking spaces are occupied, while roughly 1,100 people linger on a waiting list without access to a permit.
Once staff members settle on the number of parking spaces that cut the length of the waiting list, council members say they can consider whether to require Ryan Companies to incorporate additional spots into redevelopment concepts.
But none of that was possible Tuesday, and five residents who spoke about the topic were eager to support the two-month delay.
Both options presented so far include 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.
Patrick Kelly, a resident near the redevelopment area and a member of a steering committee that met for months helping to make recommendations, said residents would like to see something with only 200 apartments and less office space. Resident Marilyn Schweitzer said she wants a plan with a higher emphasis on transportation options, trees and quality soil.
While the delay provides time for museum and parking conversations, it also will allow a newly hired consultant to begin work reviewing elements of Ryan Companies' work. The council on Tuesday unanimously voted to hire S.B. Friedman Development Advisors of Chicago under a $100,000 contract with a 10 percent contingency to serve as a "city advocate" in reviewing 5th Avenue plans.