Smaller 5th Avenue plan could spell compromise in Naperville

  • A plan for fewer apartments and shorter buildings is now under consideration for the 5th Avenue area near the Naperville Metra station.

    A plan for fewer apartments and shorter buildings is now under consideration for the 5th Avenue area near the Naperville Metra station. Daily Herald file photo October 2017

 
 
Updated 2/13/2020 5:25 PM

Shorter buildings and fewer apartments are two features of a new design for the 5th Avenue redevelopment near the Naperville Metra station.

City officials hope this design can gain support from nearby residents, who want what's built to be in character with the neighborhood, and from some city council members, who want a new look for the area to be bold and innovative.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The design, the third by developer Ryan Companies since the firm was chosen in October 2017, will be discussed during a meeting of the 5th Avenue steering committee at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Naperville Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle St.

Because work to redevelop the project area of 13 acres would require selling or leasing city-owned land, any final plan would require seven positive votes from city council members to gain approval.

Two early concepts presented in August 2018 were rejected as too dense, and a new baseline concept released last September did not have enough support to be viable, Mayor Steve Chirico said.

So Ryan Companies began working on a compromise, looping in Chirico to represent those who want to dream big, and council member Patrick Kelly, representing the views of residents who live, like he does, in neighborhoods near the station.

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"We're trying to find that sweet spot where we feel like we're going to present a project that is exciting and new and inspiring but also make it fit within the tolerances of the neighborhood and the people who maybe aren't as excited about it," Chirico said early this year. "I don't know if we're going to find that spot. Honestly, I really don't. But we're going to try."

The latest concept shows four apartment buildings, two parking garages, an office building, a plaza and a cluster of townhouses on either side of the existing 5th Avenue station building. It also includes a parking garage at the DuPage Children's Museum along Washington Street.

The plan meets parameters set for the project during the three years since the city reached out to developers in February 2017.

The city decided the plan should add between 250 and 400 commuter parking spaces. This design adds 253 to provide a total of 1,934.

Council members decided 20% of housing at 5th Avenue should meet the state definition of affordable. This design includes 24% affordable housing when considering the apartments and townhouses, or 28% when considering only the apartments. It calls for 184 market-rate apartments, 71 affordable apartments and 37 townhouses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Also included are 15,000 square feet of retail space, 30,000 square feet of health and wellness space, 60,000 square feet of office space, 842 multiuse parking spaces, and a maximum building height of 65 feet (down from 83 in the plan from last September).

"The latest concept shows a collective effort of members of council and the community and our team working together to find a compromise that meets what all parties are looking for," said Jim McDonald, senior vice president of real estate development for Ryan Companies.

Reducing density was a major goal. The previous plan called for 300 market-rate apartments, 50 to 70 affordable apartments and 20 to 25 "attainable" apartments for workforce housing, totals Kelly said many residents felt were overwhelming for the area of largely single-family houses.

Ryan worked to "simplify the configuration of the structures" to decrease density, McDonald said.

Kelly said it worked, and the newest plan -- though preliminary -- appears to provide benefits to people who live near and travel from the Naperville Metra station.

"For the first time, in my opinion, Ryan Companies presented a plan that really is significantly less dense and tall than what they started with," Kelly said. "To me, it's far better for the neighborhoods and the commuters that it's less dense."

The development still aims to seek designation as a WELL Certified Community through the International WELL Building Institute, a goal Chirico has praised.

After Saturday's steering committee meeting, the city council is scheduled to discuss the latest design during a workshop March 2 to determine if there is agreement to move forward.

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