Developer offers new Water Street plan
By Hank Beckman For The Sun November 30, 2012 5:04PM
Artist rendering of the proposed Water Street project in downtown Naperville. | submitted Nov. 2012
Updated: January 3, 2013 6:29AM
In what Marquette Properties hopes will be a game-changer, the developer has offered yet another revision to the controversial Water Street development.
The project, first approved by City Council in 2007 as a smaller development but never built, has been the subject of considerable opposition because of the height of a proposed building and increased traffic that may be created by the development.
The current project calls for a Holiday Inn Express hotel, a large parking structure and more than 65,000 square feet of office and retail space on 2.4 acres bounded by the DuPage River, Aurora Avenue, Main Street and Webster Street.
The developer met with City Council members Friday afternoon to plead its case.
The most recent changes include completely eliminating the residential component of the plan, doing way with the 61 apartments that were part of the proposal.
However, the number of hotel rooms would increase from 131 to 177, with the rooms split between two buildings. Access for the hotel guests and employees would be provided via a pedestrian bridge connecting the two buildings.
The main hotel building itself would lose an entire floor, bringing the height of the rooftop lounge down to 74 feet from its previous height of 82 feet, 8 inches.
The height of the parking deck that would be part of the project would be 77 feet, 3 inches
With the elimination of the residences and the added hotel rooms, Marquette now estimates that instead of 109 surplus parking spaces, 128 will be left over for public use.
“We understand that the city wants to insure maximum public use of the parking facility while accommodating the needs of the tenants and guests of the buildings here,” said Jeff Prosapio, drector of Marquette Companies. “We are confident that this new plan allows for unrestricted use of as many spaces as possible for the benefit of shoppers, diners and visitors to the downtown.”
Moreover, the square footage for restaurant, retail, office and medical use would increase from slightly over 65,000 square feet to about 83,000 square feet.
But even with concessions, it appears the developer still has a ways to go with some Council members.
“It doesn’t cut it on height or parking,” Councilman Grant Wehrli said Friday in a telephone interview. “It’s an improvement, but it still doesn’t cut it.”
Wehrli noted that the original proposal approved by City Council in 2007 called for a much smaller development, saying, “We’ve gained more density, more building height on the negative side — for what?”
But Wehrli’s colleague on the City Council, Judith Brodhead, seemed more optimistic.
“They’re certainly moving in the right direction,” she said, although as of Saturday afternoon, she still declined to reveal what her vote would be.
She stressed that the reduction of an entire story from the hotel building was a significant move, one that she welcomed.
“They (the developer) have tried to accommodate the desires that they’ve heard from City Council members,” she said.
Steve Chirico, one of the project’s staunchest supporters on the City Council, came away from the Friday meeting with renewed confidence that the project would get done.
“I think it went OK,” he said of the meeting, stressing that the Council members sitting on the fence were looking for just such a compromise. “The ones who are opposed are still going to be no votes.”
Chirico said that he doubted there would be an actual vote at Tuesday’s Council meeting, but rather that the Council would vote to table the issue until the next meeting, giving Council members time to study the new proposal.
“It was generally a good meeting,” Prosapio said. “The Council members had a lot of good comments and questions … all of them there were headed in the right direction.”
Prosapio said the development team would meet with the City Council members it hasn’t already talked to on Monday, but wouldn’t venture a guess as to the outcome of the Dec. 4 vote.
“This proposal is as strong as we’re able to put forward,” he said.