Train area redevelopment decisions taking more time in Naperville
Come late January, Naperville City Council members could find more certainty on parameters they want to set for a large-scale redevelopment along 5th Avenue near the Metra station.
But until then, the same two sticking points that have been pausing the project since mid-September remain.
Council members said Tuesday night the project hinges on the DuPage Children's Museum, and whether it stays at 301 N. Washington St. or moves to one of four sites elsewhere in Naperville; and on commuter parking, and whether officials decide more spots must be added to the 1,681 already available.
The city council in mid-September set a 60-day deadline to choose a course for the museum.
But when that deadline passed last month, officials said they would need until Dec. 18 to provide an update on the museum's future, citing the challenges of calculating costs such as moving fees, rent, architecture, planning and construction at a potential new site.
On Tuesday, City Manager Doug Krieger said "progress has been made but the problem will not be solved" by Dec. 18. Instead, he said the city could have a recommendation by mid-January.
The museum is a "pivotal decision point" for the idea of redevelopment, council member John Krummen said, especially because its site could be a prime spot for a new commuter parking garage. Putting parking there would allow the majority of commuters, who live in south Naperville, to make a right turn out of the lot to head home.
Even without a recommended future site, Krummen stepped forward Tuesday as the only council member to say he believes the facility would be better off elsewhere. He said he supports the museum and wants to see it moved away from a high-traffic area for visitor safety.
"Moving the children's museum, I think, is the best thing for the children," Krummen said, "because I don't want to be up here concerned about traffic and preschoolers."
Late January could bring decisions about aspects of the project, as the city plans to schedule a workshop for Jan. 28 or 29. During a workshop, the council could tackle topics such affordable or attainable housing, stormwater, a public plaza, parking, building height and design, traffic, walkability and whether the city should lease or sell the land to prospective developer Ryan Companies, which has been working on the project since October 2017.
Council members Paul Hinterlong and Kevin Coyne questioned why SB Friedman Development Advisors, a firm the city hired this October to be an advocate and help review proposals from Ryan Companies, did not already provide guidance on leasing or selling the land.
"I want an opinion either way from you, the professional," Hinterlong told Geoffrey Dickinson, SB Friedman senior vice president.
Dickinson's presentation Tuesday summed up the development process so far and highlighted topics on which the council still needs to provide clarity.
Only Mayor Steve Chirico said he was prepared to move forward Tuesday with giving more direction for the 13-acre redevelopment zone, which includes four parking lots, a former public works building, a water tower, an office building and the property of the DuPage Children's Museum.
Planning for the redevelopment began in February 2017 when the city sought qualifications from developers before eventually choosing Ryan Companies.
"We've been at this for a year and a half or so now," Chirico said. "I don't think we're rushing. We've been methodical."