Parking data in, but Naperville awaiting museum decision in redevelopment process
Before Naperville officials can provide direction on how they want a developer to focus designs for 5th Avenue near the Metra station, two big questions must be answered.
Should the redevelopment plan include more commuter parking? And should the DuPage Children's Museum remain in place, just south of the tracks west of Washington Street, or move elsewhere?
City council members have new information on commuter parking, but not yet on the museum's future.
After surveying commuters and people on waiting lists for quarterly parking permits in city-owned lots near the Metra depot, city staff members suggested any redevelopment plan should add between 250 and 400 new spaces for commuters. Those spots could join the 1,681 already there, which includes 918 for permit holders.
Adding the spaces, a staff analysis found, could reduce time on the waiting list for a permitted spot to as little as a year and seven months or as much as six years and two months. The list now is seven years long for a space in the Burlington/Parkview lot or 14 years for a spot in the Kroehler lot.
"We all suspected that more spots would be recommended," Mayor Steve Chirico said.
So now the cost/benefit analysis can begin. Chirico said the city estimates each parking spot built inside a new deck costs between $25,000 and $30,000. To add 250 to 400 spots could cost between $6.25 million and $12 million.
If the city instructs developer Ryan Companies to add more spaces, Chirico said officials could consider raising the price of a quarterly permit, which now stands at $110 to $135, depending on the choice of lot and whether the purchaser resides in Naperville.
Of wait-listed commuters surveyed, 92 percent live in Naperville, and 82 percent travel by Metra four or more days a week. The reason 82 percent of them want a permit is the security of knowing a space will be available no matter the time.
The results now can factor into council discussion, scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at 400 S. Eagle St.
But council members won't be getting a substantive update about the discussions that have been going on since early October to try to decide on the DuPage Children's Museum's future.
Museum Director Sarah Orleans said that's because there isn't an update to be had. City and museum officials are considering four potential sites other than 301 N. Washington St., but costs and other details have yet to emerge.
Chirico said cost considerations don't stop at the rent. Calculations also must include moving costs of hiring a company qualified to dismantle and reconstruct museum exhibits, as well as costs of architecture, planning and construction for a potential interior build out.
"We're working on finding out if any of the options that are available to them are financially viable," Chirico said. "That does take more time."
The city council in mid-September set a 60-day deadline to choose a course for the museum. But Chirico now says officials will have to seek an extension.
Taking time is smart, Orleans said, as the popular museum also weighs whether a new site would increase or decrease membership and advance or hamper research on the intersections of play and learning. Orleans said work toward a recommendation for the museum's future involves many volunteers meeting in a collaborative process.
"Nobody wants anyone to rush to the wrong decision," Orleans said. "We're making a very smart and strategic decision."
Whether the museum stays or goes could help Ryan Companies narrow ideas presented for the 13-acre 5th Avenue area from two designs unveiled in August into one eventual plan, officials say.
Both plans for the eight sites making up the redevelopment zone 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. One concept keeps the museum in place, while the other moves it off-site in exchange for parking and mixed-use buildings with retail and residential space.