Naperville City Council approves adjusted Block 59 business district

Render image of Block 59 development.
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Naperville City Council voted to approve a Block 59 business district plan, requested by real estate investment company Brixmor Property Group Inc. However, council did make some changes to the originally proposed plan during its Tuesday meeting.

Reimagined development to feature central public green space

Brixmor had hoped to have the entirety of its property stretching from Jefferson Ave. to Aurora Ave. to the east of Route 59 qualify as part of the business district, with plans for extensive renovations. That included the Westridge Court, Heritage Square shopping centers, and Hollywood Palms Cinema. Brixmor said the current vacancy of the combined properties is 57%. 

It plans to remove many of the existing buildings, reconfiguring the site to feature a central public green space. In its proposal, Brixmor stated that the redevelopment would attract “newer quality tenants to the area” and improved traffic flow through the area would result in the continued success of local retailers.

Question about which areas are “blighted”

But several council members took issue with categorizing the northern area of that stretch as “blighted,” which is part of the reasoning for creating the district. Looking at the shopping centers separately, Westridge Court is about 35% vacant, with Heritage Square nearly fully vacant.

“It’s basically impossible for me to say with a straight face that the northern parts are blighted when you just put $4 million into improving those properties,” said councilman Patrick Kelly. “I just want to have some level of consistency.”

Mayor Steve Chirico was in support of the Block 59 business district, saying it was a “transformational” project. Brixmor will remove many of the existing shopping center buildings so the site can feature a central public green space.

“This makes the Ogden Mall transformation, which is a huge success story for the council – this makes that look small,” said Chirico. “This is a much, much larger business district, much larger. And by any standard, 57% vacancy is a troubled, tired business district.”

He noted that the state would weigh in on the condition of the property.

“The state will determine if this is blighted, and if it’s not found to be blighted, then this deal’s off,” said Chirico.

Council ultimately voted 6-3 to allow the business district, but exclude the northern portion of the site from its boundaries. Properties within the business district will have a 1% associated business district tax. 

New stoplight

As part of the deal, Brixmor must also pay $200,000 for the installation of a traffic light between the Target entrance and Portillos.

“I would say today we should have a traffic light there based on the flow of traffic in that area,” said Chirico. “I think that will improve the area. It is a bit dicey, especially around noon or dinnertime with the Portillo’s traffic.”

Naperville News 17’s Will Payne reports.

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