HPC Votes Against Ram West’s Proposals For Little Friends’ Campus

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At the latest Naperville Historic Preservation Commission meeting the group voted 6-2 against a conditional use and variances that would allow 47 town homes to be built on Little Friends’ property.

They also voted 5-3 against giving a certificate of appropriateness for exterior facade changes to the Kroehler Mansion as well as the suggested facades for the town homes, which were proposed by Ram West Capital.

Reasons For Vote

Most of the roughly 20 public speakers were against the revised plans for the nearly 4-acre site, citing high density, setbacks, and the size of town homes as the biggest problems. And some commissioners agreed.

“If you’re coming into the historic district with a whole bunch of variances, chances are somehow you’re trying to do the one thing you’re not supposed to, which is alter the nature of the neighborhood,” said HPC Commissioner Mark Urda.

Urda said the biggest reason he voted against Ram West Capital’s request was a rendering by Naperville resident Marylin Schweitzer, which compares what the town homes would like versus houses that are already in the historic district.

Urda said in fairness, Schweitzer’s renderings did not include all of Ram West Capital’s revised plans. A playground, an open space, a rose garden, and more were included in the proposals.

Details Of The Proposal

The 47 units will be spread out in 12 buildings, and three in the mansion. The façade proposals are model after the Koehler Mansion.

Russ Whitaker, an attorney for Ram West Capital, said he will meet with community members to come up with revisions to their plans before they go to the Planning and Zoning Commission in September.

“We’ve compromised, it’s going to be critical in order to get to a win-win-win that the neighbors are also willing to compromise,” said Whitaker. “I think we heard some of that from ECHO last night so we look forward to working with them and hope we can get to ultimate compromise where the developer can win, the neighborhood can win, and the city can win.”

Whitaker said he hopes to present the matter to city council in October.

History Of Little Friends Trying To Sell Their Property

Last year in November city council gave Little Friends the right to demolish their buildings, but asked the school to look into options to preserve the Mansion. Last week, city council approved a $450,000 incentive to Little Friends that makes up the economic loss of selling the land to a developer who will preserve the nearly 100-year-old building.

But Little Friends said they will give up the incentive if city council does not approve Ram West Capital’s proposals.

“If for any reason this proposal is denied or delayed we will have no option but to proceed under our certificate of appropriateness and demolish all of our buildings on this property and sell the land to someone completely clean,” said Patrick Skarr, a spokesman for Little Friends.

Little Friends is trying to sell their land to facilitate a move to a new school in Warrenville

Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.


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