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Water Street work to begin this spring

<p>Naperville resident Chuck Schlabach points to an area on the revised drawings for theWater street plaza at the Pre-Emption house on Thursday, January 17, 2013. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media </p>

Naperville resident Chuck Schlabach points to an area on the revised drawings for theWater street plaza at the Pre-Emption house on Thursday, January 17, 2013. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media 

The land just east of Naperville’s Municipal Center is expected to be a new downtown hospitality hub by the end of next year. It takes some imagination to picture that today, however.

Planners of the Water Street District redevelopment expect shovels to go into the ground by late spring on the $85 million mixed-use endeavor by the Marquette Companies, developers based in Naperville. Groundbreaking initially was anticipated last fall.

Jeff Prosapio, project director for Marquette, said work remains to be done on leasing and design, as well as securing construction documents, approvals and permits — but significant progress is being made.

The project is being built with help from a $7.5 million tax relief package approved by the City Council nearly a year ago, through the financing incentive they established in late 2007 for the Water Street Tax Increment Financing District.

Two tenants already have signed on to fill some of the restaurant spaces in the development, a combination of hotel, restaurant, retail and office uses on 2.4 acres straddling Water Street and bounded by Webster Street, Aurora Avenue, Main Street and the DuPage River’s west branch. A parking deck providing 524 spaces for use by hotel guests and the general public also is in the plans, as well as a pedestrian bridge over Water Street and improvements to the adjacent Riverwalk, streetscape and plaza areas.

The Mexican-themed restaurant Bien Trucha, which operates a location in Geneva, will occupy one of the eatery areas. Blue Sushi Sake Grill, offering Asian flavors, is set to take up another. The restaurant chain currently has five other locations, including Denver, Ft. Worth, Tex., and three in Omaha, with one more soon to open in Lincoln, Neb.

Project spokeswoman Deb Newman said talks are under way toward leases with “additional recognizable restaurants” that will use some of the rooftop spaces and those along the river.

Anchoring the development will be the first major hotel to come to the downtown. The 157-room Hotel Indigo Naperville on the Riverwalk will offer 37 suites, some of them overlooking the river, and art designed to evoke the city’s rich history and modern-day vibrancy. Each guest room will feature a custom mural reflecting the local theme.

“There is definitely a ‘wow’ factor that guests will encounter throughout the hotel,” said Nick Ryan, Marquette managing director and a Naperville resident, in a prepared statement.

The inn is expected to open in late 2015.

Representatives for the developer met last week with staff members from the Naperville Development Partnership and the Downtown Naperville Alliance, to discuss some of the retail uses, which remain undetermined at this point.

“They’re always looking at what else might be downtown, and they sometimes hear before we do,” Newman said.

Discussions are well underway with two high-end retailers that specialize in women’s fashions and jewelry, she said.

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