New twist for Water Street project
By Hank Beckman For The Sun December 4, 2012 10:40PM
Artist rendering of the proposed Water Street project in downtown Naperville. | submitted Nov. 2012
Updated: January 6, 2013 9:47AM
The Water Street development team chopped a full story off the planned six-story Holiday Inn Select and eliminated 62 apartment residences on the 2.4-acre parcel of property sitting just south of the Riverwalk.
But while Marquette Properties partner Jeff Prosapio said Friday that the new proposal “is as strong as we’re able to put forward,” opponents and those skeptical of the development’s bulk see it only as a step in the right direction.
Whichever view ultimately prevails, Naperville City Council Tuesday decided to send the matter back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for more review.
“It would be better to continue this discussion to another evening,” Marquette attorney Kathy West told the City Council, citing concerns about financing and conditions of the developer’s construction loan as problems that could be effected by the further delay of the project.
The development is a four-building project with boundaries of Aurora Avenue on the south, the DuPage River on the north, Main Street on the east and Webster on the west.
Earlier proposals included a parking deck that was 77 feet tall and a hotel building that was 82 feet tall, both shooting past the 60-foot building height limit for the downtown district.
While the new proposal eliminates the apartments and lowers the height of the hotel to 74 feet, the parking deck is still 77 feet, which still concerned Council members worried about building height.
The City Council was split between tabling the issue until its Jan. 15 meeting and sending it back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a fresh start.
Council members Kenn Miller, Joe McElroy and Steve Chirico argued against going back to plan commission, as did Mayor George Pradel, but Council members Doug Krause, Grant Wehrli, Paul Hinterlong, Judy Broadhead and Bob Fieseler were in favor of a fresh start with the commission.
Brodhead said she liked that the height was coming down and thinks it’s “generally a doable project,” but would like to see the height of the parking deck come down as well.
Miller said he was “totally against” sending it back to the commission, saying, “they have already approved what was submitted before” and that he was, “not sure what the Plan Commission was going to do.”
But Wehrli spoke passionately about the need to get the project right.
“This is a project that has more implications to the community than probably any other project that anyone on this council has seen,” he said, calling it a potential game-changer.
Wehrli stressed the importance of the developer getting a project to work within the guidelines of the Water Street Vision Statement.
He also stressed that sending it back to the commission would “allow the public to weigh in free of any restraints.”
Krause agreed, saying as the project stood, “I’m voting no on it…the problem is it keeps changing.”
Fieseler suggested that along with going back to the Planning Commission, city staff get the Transportation Advisory Board involved in the process to lend its expertise to any potential traffic problems caused by the project.
A number of residents spoke about the project at the Tuesday meeting.
Thom Higgins of the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation argued that the development was still too big even with the changes proposed by the developer.