Economic Development Update

A recent increase in vacant commercial realty prompted Naperville brokers and business owners to take a closer look at the city’s economic development status.

“Every community is struggling and again business climates change and there is an ebb and flow, a natural moving of businesses in and out. We have done a good job of filling these and repurposing these buildings, but it’s always a challenge,” said Steve Chirico, Mayor of Naperville.

One of the biggest obstacles the city is working to overcome is filling the void created by Dominick’s Grocery stores leaving Naperville.

“So when you have a grocery store that closes and you have 40 or 50 thousand cars coming through that center, that’s a big loss for some of the smaller, non-anchored tenants,” said Christine Jeffries, President of Naperville Development Partnership.

The Naperville Development Partnership and the city of Naperville are working to reach out to property owners, brokers and tenants to try and get these buildings occupied.

Brokers are also concerned with large corporations like ConAgra being lured into moving their headquarters from Naperville to Chicago.

“Businesses seem to be most concerned with how they’re going to recruit and maintain talent and millennials are the big subject to that. I think the big driver right now is to move to the city where they’re all living, but it’s really not the case. Naperville’s got a great asset in the Metra Station, we have easy access to the city and we’ve got tons of amenities to offer the companies,” said Thomas Peters, a tenet representation broker at CBRE.

Being one of the largest commuter stations in the Metro area, Mayor Chirico also previewed the next steps for properties along 5th Avenue.

“The city has a lot of property on 5th Avenue, mostly parking lots right now but we also have the old public works building and the Children’s Museum. Quite likely, it will be one of the largest private, sort of public projects in the western suburbs. It’s going to be a big deal and we have a lot of opportunity there,” said Chirico.

“The important thing is that we’re looking into the future and seeing what’s coming and being prepared for it. Instead of being reactive, we want to be proactive,” added Jeffries.

In April the city will be releasing a request for information for the private sector of 5th Avenue.

While the city is working to fill and repurpose buildings, it still maintains its AAA bond rating.

Naperville News 17’s Rachel Pierson reports.

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