Council wants more time to mull Water Street project
By Hank Beckman For The Sun November 6, 2012 9:24AM
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 8, 2012 6:28AM
Naperville City Council wants a little more time to look over the Water Street project before taking a vote on the plan.
The council discussed the plan Monday night and will look at the project again at its Nov. 20 meeting.
The 2.4-acre project’s boundaries are Aurora Avenue on the south, the DuPage River on the north, Main Street on the east and Webster Street on the west.
Included in the development is a 131-room Holiday Inn Select Hotel, 62 apartments, 43,489 square feet of retail and office space, and 22,121 square feet of medical office space.
The developer, Marquette Properties, sought an ordinance finalizing the planned unit development for the project, a conditional use for a hotel in the downtown area and deviations from parking and sign requirements.
According to the attorney for the project, the Water Street development is important for the downtown.
“The Water Street project brings to life the goals of the Water Street Vision Statement and the Naperville Downtown2030 Plan,” Kathy West, attorney for Marquette Properties, told the council.
The proposed hotel’s main tower would be 88.5 feet tall, and two eastern towers would be 65 feet, surpassing the 60-foot height limit set for buildings in the downtown area.
Also included is a 544-space parking structure that requires deviation from code. City code requires two spaces for every apartment. The developer wants a variance to 1.5 spaces per apartment to be set aside at the parking structure.
The code for a hotel is one parking spot per room and one for every employee. The developer wants to lower it slightly and earmark 78 spaces for the hotel.
With another 162 spaces put aside for the other uses in the project, the developer said the surplus parking would be 89.
Councilman Paul Hinterlong wasn’t sold on the parking variance for the apartments, saying that apartment complexes tended to bring a lot of cars that needed parking spaces.
“I see it as a shortage,” he said.
Councilman Grant Wehrli agreed, saying that as the proposal stood, “they consume more parking than they provide.”
Wehrli was also concerned about the height of the buildings.
The Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation, a consistent opponent of the project, stuck to its position.
“The height and density proposed will change our Riverwalk in downtown Naperville forever,” said confederation President Bob Buckman.
The project had many supporters among the public.
“People who are going to stay at that hotel are going to spend money in downtown Naperville,” resident Jim Carpenter said.
Resident Chuck Bokar agreed, saying, “this project will take Naperville to another level.”
Chicago resident Lisa Folkerth spoke of how Naperville reminded her of the Ohio town where she grew up, but would never go back to because of the lack of opportunity.
“This project is an absolutely huge incentive to live here,” she said.
Some Council members still have concerns about the project.
Councilwoman Judith Brodhead expressed admiration for the project, but still has reservations.
“What I keep hearing is that it’s too tall,” she said of the hotel. “This is kind of a radical departure from what we have downtown.”
Councilman Doug Krause said that many on both sides of the issue were focused on the height of the buildings, but reminded everyone that there were other serious concerns.
“It’s about traffic … it’s about parking,” he said.
Krause also had concerns about storm water runoff, but City Engineer Bill Novak assure him that the project met all DuPage County requirements.
Councilman Bob Fieseler spoke of balancing the downtown area, noting that the north end of the district was more fully developed.
“Is the south end going to be the forgotten area,” he asked.
Fieseler also alluded to the generational split over a project that draws significant support from younger people.
“Anyone who still opens their mail is against this project,” he said.
Councilman Kenn Miller seemed strongly in favor of the project, seeing it as the right move for the city.
“The water is going to lift all boats,” he said.
Councilman Steve Chirico was positive about the development, but didn’t want the issue to become divisive.
“I really, really hate to see this pass 5 to 4,” he said.
West said she understood.
“We didn’t expect this to be voted on this evening,” she said.