Little Friends Site Rezoning Decision Delayed

At the request of North Central College and Little Friends, Naperville City Council tabled a decision on whether to rezone property owned by Little Friends.

NCC’s Plans

NCC wants to buy the property, which sits in Naperville’s Historic District at 140 N. Wright Street, and build a facility for graduate health sciences. That would require the rezoning of the land to a College/University Zoning, which needs council approval.

The college’s president Troy Hammond said all the buildings on the site will need to be demolished for their plans, including the historic Peter Kroehler building.

“Through our due diligence process, the facilities on the Little Friends property will not serve any future institutional use, and must be removed for the college to be able to utilize the property,” said Hammond. “To commemorate Peter Kroehler, the college intends to display and/or utilize certain artifacts from the Kroehler House.”

The Kroehler House

Peter Kroehler built the Kroehler House in 1909. He served as a two-term mayor and operated Kroehler Manufacturing Company in Naperville.

One speaker argued that Naperville may not have grown into the city it is today without Kroehler, and believes the building deserves to be saved.

“A man who has that much influence over the history of this town should be recognized,” said Naperville resident Dominic Nugent. “And that legacy means that his house is probably the most historically significant building in the whole district.”

Little Friends to Stay?

Others felt the land should be rezoned to allow Little Friends to grow in their mission to serve those with autism and other developmental disabilities.

“We are a very big fan of Little Friends and what they do – they do God’s work,” said Naperville resident Patrick Rubald. “We’re very happy with them as a neighbor. That may not seem like it’s important moving forward but without Little Friends having the ability to move forward, they may have to stay in a location that, over time, they may not be able to afford to maintain and keep.”

If the property is rezoned and the sale goes through, Little Friends intends to move to a larger facility in Warrenville.

To be continued

The discussion will return to council chambers on July 16, which will allow the college to compile more information on their plans for the site.

A separate action taken by council will require organizations to submit an independent structural analysis for the buildings in the historic district. The Historic Preservation Commission will consider that analysis when deciding whether to allow the structures to be demolished.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.

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