Retail, condos taking shape at historic Naperville library site
The Central Park Place development in Naperville is changing the look of a downtown block that holds the city's first public library.
Coming into form is a four-story mixed-use center next to a renovation of the old Nichols Library, a local landmark that is being marketed as a restaurant space.
When complete, the development will mark a change for the property at 110 S. Washington St., which long has been occupied by the 122-year-old library, a Richardsonian Romanesque building of yellow brick and stone. Gone is the 1962 south addition to the library (it was torn down in 2018), and in its place, buildings with retail space on the first floor and condos above are coming together on schedule, a spokeswoman for owner and developer Great Central Properties III said.
The project itself in recent days has undergone a "massive transformation," leaders say, and exterior work is nearing completion. Christina Caton Kitchel, a principal of Caton Commercial Real Estate Group, said the stone exterior of the new portion was erected earlier this month.
"By mid-July, the entire exterior will be buttoned up," Caton Kitchel said. "I think that's going to make a massive visual impact on Washington."
Landscaping also is expected to be complete by the end of July, said Lissa Druss, a spokeswoman for Great Central Properties III. In the southernmost tenant space, Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea is soon to begin build out and is targeting a Labor Day opening, Caton Kitchel said. A tenant for one of the other spaces recently committed but cannot yet be announced, she said, and agents are working to lease the remaining space to one or two more tenants.
The historic library is undergoing renovations such as tuckpointing; replacement of the roof, windows and main entrance door; repairs to the brick, stone, soffits and fascia; and construction of a large outdoor patio. Initially, the historic space within Naperville's popular downtown drew many suitors excited to turn it into a restaurant, Caton Kitchel said.
Then restaurants were forced to close this March amid the pandemic, with reopenings last week under Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan still restricted by capacity limits and new health guidelines. This has left many restaurants "struggling in their current spaces," Caton Kitchel said.
"Expansion or relocation is at a complete halt," she said.
Condo sales, however, are underway, and closings for some of the 17 units could begin as early as September.
Development plans for property went through several iterations before historic preservation commission and city council members granted approval.
The old Nichols Library was deemed a local landmark in September 2017 after preservationists worked to ensure the historic structure would be retained as a nod to Naperville's past.