Christine Jeffries, the president of the Naperville Development Partnership, said non-essential businesses were actually able to save on overhead costs this last year. And thanks to relief funds from the government, very few businesses in Naperville closed due to the pandemic.
“Everybody stepped up to really support all of our different industries, so that when they reopened, I think they reopened with some vigor,” said Jeffries. “If you walk through downtown, or you go into any of the shopping centers where we are standing out here now in front of the H-Mart grocery store, business has been tremendous all through COVID and it’s even picked up now.”
Part of that uptick is thanks to the City of Naperville redeveloping underutilized areas.
East Ogden Corridor
Take the East Ogden corridor for example. About eight years ago the city made a strong investment in the infrastructure of that area.
Simple, yet effective strategies like under-grounding some of the electric lines, planting more trees, and reworking traffic lights has made the East Ogden corridor a more attractive area for businesses.
Costco is planning to open up its second location in Naperville later this summer, and will generate more sales tax revenue than the entire downtown area, according to Mayor Steve Chirico.
Jeffries also hinted at another big name store that may be the anchor tenant for the former Fair Ford Oaks dealership on the northwest corner of East Ogden Avenue and North Naper Boulevard.
“That’s now going to be a new grocery store,” said Jeffries. “And as I said, the façade bears a remarkable resemblance to the Amazon Fresh store over on [Route 59]. [There will also be] additional retail.”
Downtown Naperville is also seeing new businesses flocking to its area.
Sixteen businesses including Starbucks Reserve, AIR Aerial Fitness, Vasili’s Mediterranean, Warby Parker, Hizeman’s, Top Fashion, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, James & Sons Fine Jewelers and more have or will open this year.
“Naperville has been very resilient, I think, through the pandemic and beyond,” said Katie Wood, the executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance (DNA). “I think that just speaks to the many benefits of being in Naperville and kind of the spokes on the wheel that we always talk about. From the Riverwalk, to our great park district, our great schools, are many reasons why businesses and residents want to choose Naperville.”
There are some vacancies in the downtown area, but those won’t last long according to Wood.
Though the world is moving towards a more digital one, some online businesses are making the switch from clicks to bricks.
“Even though a lot more people are shopping online a lot of these digital companies are saying ‘we need to have a footprint in some of these downtown districts and retail districts so people get to touch, feel, and see our products’,” said Wood. “That’s what we’re starting to see.”
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.
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