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5th Avenue Project: The “Baseline” Proposal

The long-awaited “Baseline” case for development of over 13 acres of City-owned land was disclosed this past week by Ryan Companies (“Ryan”). It is a massive project, much too large to lay out in detail here. The full concept draft is available here


A simplified summary of the proposal, structure wise:

· West Burlington lot (5th and Washington): 37’ 2 story structures facing Washington, 72’ 4 story structures over 2 levels of parking behind those. 204 ‘use’ parking stalls. Features office, market rate units, health/wellness and row houses.


· East Burlington lot (5th and Center): 72’ 5 story and 84’ 5 story structures. 212 commuter parking stalls on floors 1, 2 and 3, 396 ‘use’ parking stalls, 17 kiss-n-ride stalls.


· Kroehler lot: 18 row houses and 109 commuter stalls.


· Water Tower lot: 62’, 5 story structure, 694 commuter stalls on garage levels 1,2 and 3, and 414 ‘use’ stalls. Market rate and work-force rental units.


· Parkview Lot: 62’, 5 story structure, 50-70 affordable rental units, 22 kiss-n-ride stalls, 70 ‘use’ stalls.


· DuPage Children’s Museum (“DCM”) lot: Described as the “Museum Campus/Retail/Parking”: 55’ structure, 676 commuter stalls on floors 1,2,4,5 and 6, and 154 ‘use’ stalls.


The routes to commuter parking are outlined. One of them is heading north on Washington onto Spring into the DCM lot, another is from the south on Washington taking a left into the DCM lot, and from the west on Spring taking a left into the DCM lot. The lot with 676 commuter stalls.


Washington Jr. High is on Spring St., just west of Washington.


The financial information includes the following:

· Costs = $287,465,000. Included in that is Infrastructure costs of $24,460,000. That total includes $3,750,000 for a new pedestrian tunnel, $2,100,000 for storm water management, $2,500,000 for the water tower relocation, $1,600,000 for Washington Corridor improvements and $10,250,000 for “sitework for public spaces.”


· Preliminary 20 Year Tax Revenue Model = $58,900,000.


Questions/observations:

· The City’s relatively recent (4+ years) approach of ‘nothing can be built too big’ and ‘the existing residents don’t matter’ got an exclamation point on this one. The proposal puts an 84’ tall structure 300’ from existing, single family housing which has been there for decades. We have to wonder how the mayor or any Council members who will vote to approve this would feel if that was their house.


· It’s unclear how much, if any, of the existing storm water issues in the area will be addressed with $2.1 million of funding in this project.


· Ryan’s document references “enhance the commuter experience.” We would like to know exactly which of the following does that:

o Kroehler Lot parking decreases from 327 spaces to 109.

o Burlington Lot decreases from 719 ground level spaces to 212 spaces on floors 1, 2 and 3 of a parking deck.

o Parkview Lot decreases from 122 ground level spaces to 0.

o Water Tower Lot changes from 115 ground level spaces to 649 spaces on levels 1, 2 and 3 of a parking deck.

o DCM lot increases from 54 ground level spaces to 676 commuter spaces on levels 1,2,4,5, and 6.

We can’t imagine anything which would “enhance the commuter experience” quite like being moved from a ground level space close to the station to a multi-level deck further away from the station, and working your way into and out of a 4 or 6 story parking deck during morning and evening rush hour every day.


· Costs include $40,100,000 for 1,934 commuter parking spaces. The increase in the number of commuter parking spaces is 253. If the goal is to increase commuter parking, putting a two story deck over the existing Burlington lot would provide approximately 700 additional parking spaces for about $15,000,000 (using the approximate average cost per stall per Ryan), a significant increase in additional parking spaces for a fraction of the cost.


· Outlining a route for travel to commuter parking spaces right past Washington Jr. High School when morning rush hour will coincide with kids going to school seems like something no responsible planner would present. This plan doesn’t appear to “create safer pedestrian routes throughout development area” as Ryan claims. Unless school children aren’t pedestrians.


· Getting into and out of a parking deck at DCM during rush hour will be a nightmare for the commuters trying to do it, the traffic on Washington, and the neighborhood many will be cutting through.


· Putting an additional 350 – 430 housing units, along with retail and office space on or within a block of Washington street heading south into downtown Naperville seems as if it will make an already bad traffic situation significantly worse.


· The 50-70 affordable housing units are in one building, south of the tracks, while the market based and workforce units are north of the tracks. We are not advocating for or against affordable housing, but if Ryan/the City believe affordable housing should be incorporated, it seems reasonable to ask if the best way to do that is to put all of those units in one building, physically separated from the other units by railroad tracks.


· We hope the City provides detail assumptions and projections behind the 20 year tax revenue model of $58.9 million, including the entities (school district, park district, city, township, etc.) projected to receive the revenue and amounts each of those entities are projected to receive. How much of that projected revenue will the City receive?


Logic would seem to indicate that the revenue stream would increase over time, with the largest amounts in the later years. The present value of a dollar to be received 19 or 20 years from now is significantly less than a dollar to be received today, so the present value of the projected $58.9 million is significantly less than $58.9 million, if that’s a reasonable projection to begin with.


· What will the City get for the 13 acres of public land it will be transferring control of to a private developer?


· What is the cost to the City?


· Is this the best use of PUBLICLY OWNED LAND:

o One 72’ 4 story structure over 2 levels of parking.

o One 72’ 5 story structure.

o One 62’ 5 story structure.

o One 84’ 5 story structure.

o One 62’ 5 story structure.

o One 55’ 6 level parking garage.


There is no detail behind the projections of future tax revenue, or the timing of that revenue.


There is no disclosure of the costs to the City of this project.


We get it that the developer, the contractors and the sub-contractors will all make a lot of money on this project. Of course they and the related business interests are all for it. What is the benefit to the City, its residents, and commuters of this proposed transfer of PUBLICLY-OWNED LAND?


How can Council approve proceeding on this proposal with significant, key components of the PUBLIC INTEREST which they were elected to represent unanswered?


The 5th Avenue project will be presented to City Council the evening of Tuesday, October 1st. If you have concerns, that would be the time to express them.



Written by Mike Marek

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