Water Street Development

Plans more than five years in the making finally got the green light from Naperville City Council members.

They voted seven to two in favor of Marquette Companies’ proposal to develop 2.4-acres along Water Street, just south of the Riverwalk, adding a 166-room Holiday Inn Express, 71,000 square feet of retail space, 26,000 square feet of office space, a 524-space parking deck, and a pedestrian bridge.

“While it was a long process to get here, I think the plan that we have now is great,” said Jeff Prosapio, Director of Construction Management, at Marquette Companies. “It will be kind of that great blend of beauty and it will bring a commercial application to a section of the Riverwalk that’s appropriate, in the downtown area.”

The two naysayers were Doug Krause, who still thought the project’s impact on traffic would be too great, and Grant Wehrli, whose only quarrel was allowing any of the buildings to contain the word “Riverwalk” in their name.

“I don’t see how this is going to work,” said Krause. “To me, you’re putting ten pounds in a five pound bag. This is the wrong thing at the wrong time.”

“The city has worked hard with blood, sweat, and tears to get that Riverwalk where it is. I don’t want to see it commercialized with the name Riverwalk anything,” said Wehrli.

The city council first approved the development back in 2007 but it never took off because the developer could no longer afford it.

The plans resurfaced last year but were met with much opposition from the public, fearing the height of the hotel, initially over 90 feet, was too tall, and that the project’s density would take away the character of downtown and generate too much traffic.

Now Marquette Companies has dropped the height of all buildings to 60 feet or lower, complying with city codes, and downsized the parking garage.

“I think that the community should be really happy that a lot of the concerns have been heard and incorporated in this devised plan,” said Councilman Robert Fieseler.

“It’s a compromise and it’s a fair one. Everyone’s got skin in the game,” said Councilman Paul Hinterlong.

To move forward with the project, the council will still have to approve specific ordinances, which city staff will draft over the next four weeks and present no earlier than April 2nd.

Marquette Companies hope to begin construction some time this year. The developer also plans to ask for as much as $7.5 million in tax rebates.

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