The City of Aurora’s new Route 59 concept covers an area west of Route 59 from Montgomery Road all the way up to the train station.
The draft of the 20-year vision includes a proposal for revitalizing the Fox Valley Mall into a mixed-use destination, with new nearby residences, more entertainment options, better pedestrian access, and improved aesthetics.
It’s something that Aurora is excited about it – and it could be good for Naperville too.
“Think about the image of the corridor if the disinterest and disinvestment continues, if the mall dies, and other vacant commercial areas keep dying. We don’t see this as Aurora or Naperville we see it as a shared project and we want to work together,” said Trevor Dick, director of development strategy and facilitation with the City of Aurora.
But there are some concerns about the project – particularly from District 204.
The plan suggests there is market demand for over 5,000 residences, which could add a lot of students to the already over-crowded school district’s northern area – potentially requiring boundary changes, more bussing or other action.
“We would have to work with the City of Aurora and new developments to see if we need to build new schools. There’s a lot of cooperation and coordination that would have to occur in order for us to serve those students,” said Mike Raczak, president of the District 204 School Board.
There are also some concerns about how the city could offer economic incentives to spur development.
“If they create TIF districts, which essentially freeze taxes at today’s rate, and add students, then every year going forward we’re going to put more pressure on our schools so that will directly affect Naperville students as well, that’s where I’m concerned,” said Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico.
Aurora maintains that many areas in the development do not qualify to become TIF districts – nor does the proposal plan for any.
They also want to keep working with District 204 on the project.
“We love to work with District 204, we see ourselves as a partner, and if any plans are going to happen, we want to make sure the school district is well informed, part of the process, and we work together to create win-win situations,” said Dick.
Aurora will continue to engage the public in the process as plans progress.
Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.
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