Plans Move Ahead for Old Nichols Development

A plan for the Old Nichols Library development is that much closer to becoming finalized as it receives full approval from the Historic Preservation Commission.

That’s partly because it keeps the landmarked building exactly where it is.

“We are anchoring this building to be there as long as any other structure in Naperville,” said Mike Elliott, the lead design architect from Kluber Architects and Engineers.

But it will be getting some upgrades – the roof, front doors, and windows of the Old Nichols Library be replaced with replicas. Salvaged materials from the dismantlement of the 1962 addition and south-facing wall in April will also be included in the renovation.

Then, Kluber Architects, the lead designers and engineers for the project, plan to bring in the new. They’ll be building a four-story mixed-use development to surround the historic structure.

“We think at the end of the day we’ve taken this building that was maybe kind of under utilized within the community and give it another life,” said Elliott. “I think with some of the enhancements we’re talking about it’s going to turn it into a viable space and an entire space for people to go and visit and either talk about or be excited to be there.”

The $21-million development, to be called “Central Park Place,” would consist of commercial and residential spaces, a basement garage for residents, and even a rooftop garden.

“I think you really have honored the land marking of the façade and even more so I think this design is even better than what you had proposed originally. I think it has a lot more character and I think it’s going to be a good addition to the downtown,” said Becky Anderson, the Naperville City Council representative on the commission.

It’s a solution that’s been over a year in the making, after initial proposals by the developer were met with resistance. That led to the successful call for the building to be landmarked and for developers to rethink their plans.

Now this new solution has community members excited about the future of Old Nichols.

“I think preservation is a really important thing. It tells us where we came from. So I’m really happy to see this building remain. I just look forward to seeing the old building brought back, because it was looking a little down around the edges so I hope the tuck-pointing and everything will make it a lot fresher and nicer. Bring life to the old girl,” said Barbara Hower, an original petitioner on the landmark application for Old Nichols.

But as most gave the plans praise, Commissioner Mark Urda brought up one issue with the development height.

“I’m caught with a sense of irony though,” he said. “We’re calling it ‘Central Park Place,’ when that new tower behind Old Nichols takes away Central Park. So I wondered if anyone looked at the viability of the project without that second story, third story.”

Though the thought was taken into consideration, all commissioners, except for Chair Kevin Peterson who recused himself, ultimately approved the proposal.

Final design plans for “Central Park Place” will be ready for the commission by mid summer.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.

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