Naperville Council Partners with Developer for 5th Avenue Plans

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In an 8-1 vote the Naperville City Council has chosen to move forward with Ryan Companies to create a plan for development on 5th Avenue.

Councilwoman Becky Anderson was the lone vote against moving forward with the plan, agreeing with residents who spoke out against a lack of transparency in the process of choosing Ryan Companies.

“We really can’t let revenue generation trump our residents’ wishes and well-being,” said Anderson. “We are a community of people. We are not a brand.”

Twenty-three people spoke about the development during public comment.

Resident Dick Furstenau said neighbors of the development, including those who signed petitions against the process, should be included in planning.

“I would suggest that at least one of these people in this audience who signed that document are in every one of these groups,” said Furstenau.

Some said allowing Ryan Companies to facilitate the community engagement plan will lead to biased decision-making.

“Don’t put the fox in charge of the hen house,” said one resident. “And essentially that’s what Ryan Companies is.”

But Jim McDonald, vice president of real estate development for Ryan Companies, said his company’s goal to make a profit is not a conflict with the city’s goal.

“We talk a lot about, we’re driven by profit. Well, so is the city. So is the community. We’re going to treat y’all as partners,” said

Neighbors in support of Ryan Companies said because the developer and the city can leave the deal at any time, moving forward to create a plan can’t hurt.

“If they can do it, great. If not, no loss to Naperville,” said resident Jean Wine. “This is a win-win situation, and I do not see a reasonable argument for why Naperville would not go forward at this time.”

Mayor Steve Chirico agreed it’s time to go ahead with the process.

“I’m very concerned about analysis paralysis,” he said. “We’ve been working a long time. We’ve heard a lot of comments. I don’t think that there’s any comment out there that can be shared at this point that hasn’t already been brought up.”

Council voted in favor of moving forward with caveats including a required workshop every two months with the developer reporting to the council on community input.

The first of the community engagement meetings will be held October 16 and 17 at the municipal center.

Naperville News 17’s Beth Bria reports.