The future of Naper Settlement and development on Nokia’s Campus were two big-ticket discussion items at a recent city council workshop.
Naper Settlement is owned by the City of Naperville, but managed by the Naperville Heritage Society thanks to an agreement last amended in 1987.
Now, the city and the heritage society are looking at updating that agreement once more – so council and the heritage society sat down to have a discussion regarding the settlement, including its governance, financials, and how it’s being utilized.
“City Council challenged Naper Settlement to bring more people onto the grounds,” said Chris Birck, a member of Naperville Heritage Society’s board of directors. “They thought we could be an economic engine to bring more people to Downtown Naperville, I think we’ve achieved that in spades over the last 10 years.”
The heritage society says its success comes from events like the Christkindlmarket, has draws over 200,000 visitors a year.
But people who attend those events use up Naperville’s public parking – which has some downtown retailers saying that it hurts their business.
“They said that Christkindlmarket just killed their parking, so many of their customers complained,” said Naperville Councilwoman Becky Anderson, of Anderson’s Bookshop. “We had many calls of people saying ‘I’m no coming down, I couldn’t find a place to park, so I turned and went home.’”
The Naperville Heritage Society said they would like to work with the city to improve the parking situation for future events.
Also discussed at the workshop was a proposed purchase and development of 58 acres of the Nokia Campus for residential use.
There is no concrete proposal yet, but a residential development would require rezoning from its current status as ORI – office, research, and light industrial.
That would require approval from city council, so the developer asked to have a meeting early to help them decide if it would be worth going through the planning process.
“The process can be long and exceptionally expensive,” said Russ Whitaker, partner of Rossanova and Whitaker, Ltd., and legal counsel for the developer. “So instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to get in front of city council, we thought it would be good to have a preliminary high-level discussion.”
The site starts at Lucent Lane and runs all the way back to the boundary of the DuPage Forest Preserve. While that would make trail access easy for potential residents, it has some concerned about the environmental impact of a development.
“All of the developments along I-88 have damaged the wetlands and this area and we all have wet basements to prove it,” said Jen, resident of a subdivision neighboring the property.
If K Hovnanian Homes decides to pursue development, they will have to bring their proposal first to the plan commission, then to city council for final approval.
Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.