New shops coming despite Naperville traffic concerns
Three new retail, restaurant and office buildings are coming to a busy corner south of downtown Naperville, where neighbors' traffic concerns have the city investigating ways to address speeding, blown stop signs and congestion.
Over worries about unsafe traffic at Washington Street and Gartner Road, the city council approved The Shoppes on Washington to take the place of a former bank at 1001 S. Washington.
The plan by Tartan Realty Group calls for 28,500 square feet among three buildings, which are to include a coffee shop with a drive-through, as well as potential restaurants, a real estate business, a fitness facility, a health and wellness center and offices.
But residents of the West Highlands subdivision said the area doesn't need more coffee shops or restaurants. What it needs, they said, is a way to slow commuters heading north in the morning and to keep children safe as they head to Elmwood Elementary.
A 2013 traffic study the city conducted found drivers heading east on Gartner toward Washington go an average of 37 mph in a 25 mph zone. Neighbors said they worry adding destinations at The Shoppes on Washington will bring more drivers and give them more reason to speed.
"If we add this, it's going to clog Washington Street and Gartner," resident Dennis Barfuss said. "It's unbelievable what it's going to do."
But traffic engineers hired by Tartan Realty said the thing with coffee shop traffic is much of it is already on the roads. Instead of drawing completely new drivers to pass by, the coffee shop likely will attract some of those already on Washington or Gartner to stop for a cup.
City council member Theresa Sullivan wasn't convinced, saying the coffee shop's location on the west side of Washington would require morning-rush traffic to turn left to access it, slowing others down.
"It's on the wrong corner for where traffic is going," she said.
Sullivan was the only council member to vote against The Shoppes. Others supported it but called for city staff members to complete a report about what can be done to slow down drivers on Gartner and ease the neighborhood's other traffic concerns.
Council members also praised Tartan Realty for communicating with neighbors and making changes to prohibit drive-through lanes at the buildings other than the coffee shop, limit delivery hours, preserve mature trees, add new plants and keep lighting from spilling over to nearby homes.
"I think we have some traffic issues to deal with, but I think for the most part they've done a pretty good job," council member Benny White said.
City council members also supported the plan for The Shoppes because it results in smaller buildings than could have been allowed under the site's old zoning designation of office, commercial and institutional. Their vote last week changed the zoning to a commercial district.
"I was relieved when I saw such a modest development being proposed here," Mayor Steve Chirico said. "It looks so nice. It fits so nicely. It's thoughtful."