Naperville residents want more affordable housing in 5th Avenue redevelopment

 
 
Updated 3/21/2019 10:59 PM
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  • Two versions of preliminary plans for redevelopment of 13 city-owned acres along 5th Avenue in Naperville include concepts for apartments, condos, brownstones, offices, parking, stormwater storage and flexible space.

    Two versions of preliminary plans for redevelopment of 13 city-owned acres along 5th Avenue in Naperville include concepts for apartments, condos, brownstones, offices, parking, stormwater storage and flexible space. Courtesy of Ryan Companies

Some residents are calling on Naperville to include affordable housing in a redevelopment being considered near the Metra station along 5th Avenue.

The city's housing advisory commission is recommending that 20 percent of housing units planned for the development meet the state definition of affordable. During this week's city council meeting, several residents urged council members to follow that recommendation.

"Now is the time to begin a conversation addressing Naperville's lack of affordable housing as it pertains to the 5th Avenue development," said Anne Schultz, a longtime Naperville resident and a member of the DuPage Homeless Alliance. "The time for saying we don't have any opportunities to build affordable housing in Naperville ... is over."

Preliminary plans for the 5th Avenue development call for nearly 400 apartments, roughly 40 condos and a dozen or so brownstones. In addition, the plans show 1,200 new parking spaces and a mix of office, retail and flexible space.

The housing advisory commission says the development could help the city make progress toward complying with a state law requiring 10 percent of housing in each municipality to count as affordable. Naperville includes 3,800 homes defined as affordable out of its stock of roughly 50,000, or 7.5 percent.

"The 5th Avenue development is an opportunity the city cannot allow to pass by without making a meaningful stride toward increasing its supply of affordable housing," Schultz said. "It is an opportunity to demonstrate how seamlessly modern affordable housing can blend in with market-priced housing."

Another longtime Naperville resident, Mercedes Haber-Kovach, said the city's demographics need to be taken into consideration.

"Seniors, entry-level workforce, people who work in Naperville and cannot afford to live here are just some examples of individuals who need to be considered," she said.

Meanwhile, she said, the 5th Avenue development has characteristics that need to be leveraged. She said the land is owned by the city, close to downtown and near the train station.

"Considering the 5th Avenue development has not yet been approved, the affordable housing for that location is zero," Haber-Kovach said. "The only way to go is up."

Jim Hill, a member of the 5th Avenue steering committee and the city's senior task force, said adding affordable housing will benefit seniors and people who work hard to make Naperville a great city, including teachers, first responders, and city and park district employees.

"I don't know when you plan to address the recommendation of the housing advisory commission," Hill said. "I'm just here to urge you to do it soon."

The city council is expected to have a discussion about affordable housing on April 3, officials said.

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