City Council to discuss proposed North Central science center

The area south of Van Buren Avenue between Loomis and Brainard streets is the site chosen by North Central College trustees for the planned $60 million science center to be built in the next three years. A parking lot at Brainard and Van Buren will remain in place, but several homes owned by the college on the east end of the block are targeted for demolition to make room for the 120,000-square-foot building. |  Susan Frick Carlman~Sun-Times Media
The area south of Van Buren Avenue between Loomis and Brainard streets is the site chosen by North Central College trustees for the planned $60 million science center to be built in the next three years. A parking lot at Brainard and Van Buren will remain in place, but several homes owned by the college on the east end of the block are targeted for demolition to make room for the 120,000-square-foot building. | Susan Frick Carlman~Sun-Times Media

North Central College’s proposal for a new science center is on the line.

Plans for the $60 million complex at the southwest corner of Van Buren Avenue and Loomis Street will go before Naperville City Council members when they meet Tuesday evening. They will be taking up a proposal that has divided some of those who advise them.

A key piece of the plan is razing six structures, five of them century-old houses, that lie within the footprint for the 125,000-square-foot building. The city’s Historic Preservation Commission last month came down 5-1 against the college’s request for a certificate of appropriateness, the endorsement necessary for demolition of structures in the historic district.

Numerous neighbors of the proposed site have weighed in against the plans as well, most citing the size of the structure and its anticipated impact on the surrounding residential area.

City staff, however, are encouraging the council to give the plans their approval.

“While staff does not typically recommend demolition of existing structures in the Historic District without sufficient structural reasons, the buildings on the subject properties have been identified on the North Central College Master Land Use Plan to be demolished for construction of new college facilities,” city planner Ying Liu said in a council memo. “The college’s request for demolition is consistent with the recommendations of the Master Land Use Plan.

“Furthermore, the college intends to facilitate the preservation of the five single-family structures by placing them for sale for $10 to any buyer who wants to purchase and move them to a new location prior to demolition.”

North Central President Troy Hammond noted that the proposal adheres to the parameters of the college/university zoning district in which the site sits, and that it is consistent with the future vision for the campus that has been discussed in past meetings between the college and nearby residents.

“The proposed science center is sized to fulfill its function and to serve the needs of North Central College students,” Hammond wrote in an Aug. 5 letter to city officials. “This building should be viewed not only in the context of being adjacent to a residential neighborhood, but also in the context of being integrated into the institutional campus.”

The City Council meeting is scheduled at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers of the Naperville Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle St.

Up for consideration

Issue: Receiving requested staff input on the adjustment of local laws governing operations at downtown bars.

Background: Some council members have suggested problems with violence and other disruptions late at night in the city core could be addressed by requiring the pubs to close earlier, and cut off the service of alcohol shots after a certain time.

What it means: A staff memo outlines the council’s options, among them imposing earlier closing times for some or all of the bars licensed to sell alcohol in the city; limiting the hours for the serving of shots; and requiring the installation of surveillance equipment.

Issue: Approving variances and final plat for TopGolf.

Background: The $20 million proposal would put a three-story, 65,000-square-foot indoor golf center on 13 acres southwest of Route 59 and Ferry Road.

What it means: If approved, the project will be the second location for the specialty venue in the Chicago area. The company currently operates a smaller indoor golf complex in Wood Dale.

Issue: Receiving staff input on establishment of a new commission or board to focus on senior issues.

Background: Some council members have asked whether the city should take a more proactive role in ensuring needed programs and services are available for the city’s residents.

What it means: The staff report advises against forming a new group now, saying more input from the community’s seniors is needed first. It also suggests improving communication and establishing a task force, with designation of liaisons and an adviser.

Issue: Preparing for upcoming winter weather through the letting of plowing contracts.

Background: The three accords up for approval Tuesday would cover snow clearing on parking lots, some sidewalks and city streets by Beverly Snow and Ice and assorted independent plowing contractors, at a cost of $820,390.

What it means: Officials hope the upcoming winter will be less costly than the last one, when their $3.47 million expenditure for plowing and de-icing represented a 42 percent increase over the usual outlay.

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