Economic Development

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Naperville Economic Development

Naperville has recently taken the lead in retail sales among all Chicago area suburbs, a true feather in its cap, according to Christine Jeffries, president of the Naperville Development Partnership.

“That feat is largely due to our many car dealers, our thriving hospitality sector (restaurants and hotels) and the fact that Naperville is so attractive to visitors,” she said.

That vibrant activity continues. For instance, Che Figata, a vibrant Italian restaurant, has opened at CityGate and a number of new restaurants and retailers, as well as a beautiful hotel, have all opened in the Water Street District. Other new restaurants and bakeries that have come to town include Aloha Poke Co., Molly’s Cupcakes, Fat Rosie’s Taco and Tequila Bar and VAI’s, a new family-owned Italian restaurant on Route 59, Jeffries said.

When it comes to corporations, those have also been flocking to Naperville. Franklin Partners has purchased and is renovating the 350,000-square-foot office building at 263 Shuman into Class A office space. In addition, ALDI has moved some of its U.S. headquarters to Naperville; SMS Assist, a property management firm, has announced plans to open a suburban office at CityGate, bringing with it approximately 200 employees; and local companies such as Sikich and Alloya continue to grow and expand.

In addition, Fifth Avenue Development, a venture of the Ryan Companies and the City of Naperville, may turn parking lots into vibrant new developments. The city also continues its enhancement initiative for East Ogden Avenue with attractive upgrades such as Gerald Auto and Vequity’s 215 E. Ogden property.

The Patel Brothers, a national Indo-Pakistani grocery chain, opened in the long-vacant 80,000-square-foot Menard’s/K-Mart structure at the intersection of Ogden Avenue and Jefferson Street last year. Jeffries said they are planning to surround their 40,000-square-foot food store with another 50,000 square feet of smaller specialty stores for Indo-Pakistani goods, including meats and liquor. Another food market, ALDI, has also opened one of its new high-end specialty markets at the Naperville Crossing shopping center on Route 59.

Special events are also thriving. The third annual Christkindlmarket at the Naper Settlement is planned to run from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. Last year it attracted 300,000 people to the community.

In addition, the Iron Gate Motor Condos facility on the western edge of Naperville, north of I-88, hosts special events and fund-raisers, generally involving collectible cars because the private auto “condos” storage facility is a popular gathering place for car lovers. Iron Gate has also been progressively adding auto-related service businesses to its commercial area such as Brighton Auto Detailing.

The Naperville Development Partnership is a public/private economic development organization, founded in 1997, that fosters economic growth in the City of Naperville.

It has been responsible for millions of square feet of new construction, large-scale absorption of existing commercial space and has participated in the crafting of planning and redevelopment guides for retail and office corridors and the downtown area of the city. The work of the partnership has resulted in thousands of new jobs and an exceptional vibrancy in the business districts throughout the city.

Calamos sports complex

Residents of Naperville and surrounding communities will soon have a beautiful new entertainment venue near the intersection of Route 59 and I-88 where they can enjoy musical artists and indoor sports competitions (including ice hockey), as well as attend conventions, expos and graduation ceremonies.

Calamos Real Estate LLC of Naperville, which also owns the neighboring CityGate Centre complex, will break ground in the spring of 2019 on a $60.2 million, 209,589-square-foot building with two regulation-size ice rinks that can be covered and used for floor sports, expositions and concerts.

The main arena in the facility, which is expected to open in fall 2020, will have permanent seating for more than 4,500 and floor seating for concerts and graduation ceremonies will add about 1500 additional seats. In addition, 22 executive skyboxes accommodating up to 20 guests each will be built on the upper level.  The other arena will have seating for approximately 600 and will be ideal for smaller events. There will also be a restaurant on the upper level with views of both arenas.

“Events like hockey tournaments, which we already are getting inquiries for, can last all day and we want to provide a comfortable space to relax and have a good meal – serving breakfast, lunch and dinner – that still offers views to the activity on the ice,” said Ken Witkowski, Calamos Senior Vice President.

Calamos purchased the 25-acre site for this new venture in March, 2018 and received official approval in July. Located along Ferry Road, east of Route 59, CityGate North will be located next to the Monarch Landing senior facility.

The white stone facility will have a sustainable design which will include an abundance of glass to allow natural light inside and reduce the electrical load. It will also feature a ground-level interior tunnel, large enough for a semi-trailer, between the two arenas that will service loading/unloading docks and accommodate trash removal.

“CityGate North will serve our community in many ways,” said John P. Calamos Sr., owner of Calamos Real Estate. “We are proud to be driving this effort in Naperville and for all of DuPage County and the surrounding areas.”

“There is nothing else in the area like the venue we have planned,” Witkowski added. “We are investing in the community and we are going to do this right.”

5th Avenue Development

Naperville is continually working to improve its downtown and neighborhoods and is now focused on 13 city-owned acres along 5th Avenue near the Naperville Train Station which currently houses a now-vacant public works building, water tower, some small buildings, the DuPage Children’s Museum and commuter parking.

Responding to the city-issued Request for Quotations (RFQ) in February 2017, Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies was selected as the developer for the property in October 2017, said Jim McDonald, senior vice president for Ryan Companies.

“We believe the city’s intent in issuing the RFQ was to identify a qualified developer to partner with the city in an effort to maximize opportunities for the property, including improved pedestrian safety, storm water management, property tax generation, improved amenities and enhancements to the train station and multi-model functions,” McDonald said. “While the process takes time and can be challenging, it does give the city, community and Ryan the best opportunity to achieve a collaborative outcome for the redevelopment area.”

In August, after scores of meetings with nearby residents, city officials and other stakeholders, Ryan Companies representatives made their initial presentation, offering two different design options. Both proposed space for retail that served residents like restaurants, coffee shops, fitness, boutique retail, dry cleaners and, potentially, a grocer, as well as public amenity spaces, offices, condominiums, brownstones, apartments and commuter parking.

Concept A assumes a height of between two and four stories on the newly-constructed buildings while concept B assumes heights of between four and six stories. Both concepts include 1,681 commuter parking spaces and 126,250 square feet of office space.

Both concepts include rental units, condominium units, and brownstone units, as well as differing amounts of retail space. Both plans also call for new plazas and green spaces, as well as underground storm water storage vaults to alleviate existing flooding issues in nearby neighborhoods.

“Our next design phase will focus on refining the concepts into one baseline concept from which we can move forward with additional study. This additional refinement could lead to alternative concepts for any portion of the redevelopment area. We have not yet received direction about whether the Children’s Museum will remain or move offsite,” he added.

McDonald predicted that planning will conclude during the first quarter of 2019, at the earliest. Then they will work through zoning issues and entitlements and might break ground as early as fall 2019.

“This is a unique opportunity for Naperville to establish a new vision for its train station. Non-tax-generating parking lots will be transformed into a vibrant community experience unique to Naperville and all of suburban Chicago,” McDonald said.