Developer imagines Naperville gateway as a public art 'headquarters'
Art is set to be the focus -- not an afterthought -- at a development that aims to build a new northern gateway to Naperville.
Developers of CityGate West, already home to Topgolf and the WhirlyBall entertainment center that opens Saturday, say they are partnering with the Naperville public art nonprofit Century Walk Corp. to bring between 20 and 30 pieces of artwork to the live-work-play-stay center during the next decade.
Aristotle Halikias, chairman of Republic Bank and president of Inter Continental Real Estate and Development, said his companies' plans for CityGate West will be built around art, supported in part by a $10,000 donation the family made to Century Walk.
"We'd like the development to be inspired by art, as opposed to an afterthought where the art comes in after the fact," Halikias said about CityGate West, located at the northwest corner of the Route 59 interchange along I-88. "We're looking at how art can be the calling card for creating the development, as opposed to seeing how art can fit in."
Halikias said he was inspired by the work Century Walk has done since 1996 to install, dedicate and maintain public art at 50 sites throughout Naperville.
The majority of the sites are downtown, Century Walk Chairman Brand Bobosky said, and four are in south Naperville. But none are on the northwest side of town where CityGate West is in the early stages of being built.
Developers with Inter Continental and Republic Bank started with the "play" aspect of the multiuse development, when Topgolf opened in 2015. WhirlyBall came next.
And now, Halikias said, developers are soon to start meeting with the city to begin the permitting process for the "live, work and stay" elements of the plan, including residences and a hotel, among other features.
"It's a pretty vibrant community that we're trying to create there," Halikias said.
Designers plan to incorporate artistic elements into some of the basics of the environment, such as streetlights and bike racks, as well as into some of the less common features imagined for CityGate West, including a band shell, a trail connection to the Illinois Prairie Path and a pedestrian bridge crossing Route 59.
The developers, Bobosky said, proved they "understand the value of public art," by bringing in Century Walk during the planning stages.
The nonprofit has placed roughly $4 million worth of public art at its 50 locations, funded by a mix of private donations and city grants. Much of existing Century Walk art serves to tell a story about Naperville's past, but Bobosky said future pieces at CityGate West could be "art for art's sake," beautiful on their own without a specific message.
Halikias said he's open to any theme for future murals, sculptures or other art -- historic, cultural, playful. He also said the development could host art-related competitions, fairs or pop-up installations.
"We want to be the headquarters, if you will, for public art," Halikias said. "We're excited about what it can mean."