The Future of 5th Avenue

Over 13 acres of land, in plots surrounding the Naperville train station and 5th Avenue, are up for redevelopment. And with most of the sites nestled in neighborhoods, resident interest in the project has been high.

City council selected Ryan Companies to lead community engagement, and the development firm has been holding public meetings and work group sessions since October.

Despite the amount of time dedicated to the process, some residents at the latest meeting said they were still worried about the outcome.

“Early on I did feel like I came and I talked and they listened. I don’t know if they heard,” said resident Gail Micheau.

One point of contention is the size and density of possible developments for the land.

The working group’s market study showed that multistory, high-density developments like apartments and retail would fit.

But a survey of the residents showed their two biggest desires for the area were improved parking and increased green space.

Apartments, retail, and office space came in third, fourth, and fifth respectively.

“To the point about density, I don’t think anyone in our neighborhood wants something as tall as Water Street on any of the properties. And really that is the densest thing that exists in the downtown core,” said resident James Koller. “Even in the rest of Downtown Naperville, two and three story buildings predominate.”

Ryan Companies said they’re taking all of the information gained from the community engagement process and incorporating it into any plans they draw for the area.

“We spent over two hours going through group input and had another 45 minutes of just responding to the community so in terms of giving folks the opportunity to air their feelings,” said Jim McDonald, Senior Vice President of Ryan Companies. “I don’t know that it could have gone any better.”

Working groups that covered issues such as storm water management, pedestrian safety, and traffic management will present to the 5th Avenue steering committee on June 12, and to city council on June 19.

“Now that we’re not working in silos and pulling all this information together we’re going to make this a realistic development that those who live near it can live with and that all of us can be proud of,” said City of Naperville Councilwoman Becky Anderson.

With council’s direction, Ryan Companies will begin planning and designing.

All of the working groups’ information and a complete recording of the meeting are available on the city’s website.

Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.

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