Council delays vote on Water St. project
Sun STaff November 20, 2012 11:10PM
The Water street project in downtown Naperville calls for new buildings, including a hotel at Webster and Water streets. | Mike Solley ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 22, 2012 6:24AM
Naperville’s City Council Tuesday night delayed a final vote on the controversial Water Street project for downtown Naperville.
The matter will now be taken up at a Council meeting in December.
Almost 30 speakers gave their opinions at the meeting about the plan, 15 opposed to the project and 14 in favor of the plan.
The project includes 2.4 acres bounded by the DuPage River, Aurora Avenue, Main Street and Webster Street and includes a 131-room Holiday Inn Express hotel, a 544-space parking deck and more than 65,000 square feet of office/medical/ retail space. The developer also planned improvements to the Riverwalk and streetscape in that area, city officials said.
The sheer size of the project — particularly the height of the hotel — sparked much of the opposition.
Proponents, however, said one of the main features of the plan, a hotel, would be a benefit to the downtown area. They noted that there are many weddings at the nearby Naper Settlement, and that many of the groups may want to stay close by after the ceremony.
“I would love to put my guests up in downtown Naperville,” Ted Gradel said Tuesday night.
Marquette Properties is the developer of the project, and has made several concessions since the project was last before the Council Nov. 5. They lowered the highest point of the hotel to 77 feet from 83 feet and increased the number of parking spaces.
City Councilman Bob Fieseler Tuesday night was still concerned that there might not be enough parking.
“What if we are wrong (on assumptions for parking needs),” Fieseler said. “I don’t know if there’s a safety net for the parking.”
However, others said that in a sluggish economy, Naperville needed to seize any chance for development and growth.
The plan came to the City Council with a 5 to 2 recommendation for approval from the Naperville Planning and Zoning Commission.
The Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation was one of the groups that spoke out against the plan, saying it was too large for its site along the Riverwalk. The group met over the weekend and talked about the project.
“Whatever we build there will be there for the next 100 years,” Thom Higgins said Saturday at the meeting.
Higgins stressed that he was only rendering his personal opinion, but the confederation is officially on record as opposing the development.
Higgins said that he personally wasn’t opposed to development, nor was the confederation. But he cited potential traffic problems as one of his main concerns about the plan.
He said the development would adversely affect the Riverwalk.
crown jewel of downtown Naperville.
“The size and scale we believe is wrong for the (nearby) Riverwalk,” he said.
John Krummen, slated to run in the April 2013 race for one of four City Council seats, had other reservations at the weekend meeting.
He said he was still “weighing the pros and cons” of the proposal and noted that the height did not bother him as much as the overall size and density of the development.
Several Council members were present at the weekend meeting as well, some saying they liked the Water Street project.
For more on Tuesday’s vote, visit www.napersun.com.