Naperville’s Transportation, Engineering and Development group is in the preliminary stages of reigniting a 13-year-old project to add parking to Downtown Naperville.
In 2007, Naperville’s City Council approved a final design from Loebl, Schlossman, & Hackl to add a four level, 501-spot, L-shaped parking garage around Nichols Library in Downtown Naperville.
This plan progressed until just before bidding on the project took place in 2009 when the garage plans were shelved due to the economic recession.
Now in 2022, parking demands are reportedly still not being met. “Surveys have showed that people are less than satisfied with parking. Water Street was added, but Water Street has a lot of uses that generates its own need for parking. So the indication is that there’s still a need for parking,” said City Traffic Engineer Andy Hynes.
A stakeholder working group comprised of elected officials, residents from the West Side Homeowner’s Association, representatives from the Downtown Naperville Alliance, the library board and others were consulted in re-energizing this project.
To gain additional perspective, TED held an open house on March 7 for community members to share their thoughts about restarting the same plan.
What do Current Plans Look Like?
Those in attendance could view the original renderings, which depict the current parking lot in front of the library stretching from Webster Street to Eagle Street on Jefferson Avenue being replaced. In addition, the new garage would hook down Eagle and connect to Jackson Avenue.
The deck would not be just for library parking. As a whole, Naperville would net over 370 new parking spots. Only three levels of the garage would be above ground with one level completely underground to accommodate the slope of Eagle Street in that area. Access to the drive-thru book drop off would remain.
Most who attended had positive outlooks toward the proposed parking deck. They complimented the façade and greenery that would help the deck blend in with the surrounding residential area. Some noted the obvious upgrade it would have to the downtown area.
Concerns were voiced about the $23.5 million estimated price of the construction. Some asked why the lawn of Eagle Street needed to be covered, while others inquired about having this project take place on the Paw Paw lot behind Lou Malnati’s. The Paw Paw lot was discussed as a possibility for this parking expansion originally, but due to resources already spent on the build, there likely won’t be a major design change.
“There was a lot of effort put into it, and funds. I mean, we spent almost a million dollars to get to the point we did. I think the fundamental design of it is pretty concrete. We want to try to use the investment that’s already been made,” Hynes said.
With hurdles still to clear, Hynes says that his team’s next steps will include analyzing community feedback to present to City Council in the coming weeks, updating architectural plans and searching for outside funding to assist in fitting the bill.
Naperville News 17’s Ryan Sartori reports.
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