Members of a Naperville panel believe, as a concept, a proposed $200 million art-inspired campus has the potential to flourish as a premier mixed-use destination on the city's northwest side.
But a lack of detail on phasing, timing and community cooperation prompted the planning and zoning commission to hit the pause button on plans to bring the developer's vision to life.
Touted by the Inter-Continental Real Estate and Development as a "synergistic, self-sustaining live, work, play project," CityGate West aims to blend entertainment, retail, residential, dining, recreation, office and hospitality components on a 100-acre quadrant at the interchange of Interstate 88 and Route 59, attorney Michael Roth said during a public hearing Wednesday.
Feeding off the energy from the existing Topgolf and WhirlyBall game centers, he said, the development would serve as a social hub, an economic engine and a north gateway to Naperville. The project's design will be largely driven by public artwork through a partnership with the Naperville Century Walk organization, officials said.
Despite "some phenomenally exciting" components, commission Chairman Bruce Hanson said pieces of the proposal are too hypothetical and lack assurances, echoing concerns expressed by city staff members.
The panel agreed to continue the public hearing on Dec. 16, where project leaders have been asked to bring back a detailed timeline and phasing plan for the entire development and address several other questions.
"This is an unbelievably beautiful project, and if everyone could just wave a wand and you could have this thing developed tomorrow and it were economically viable right out of the gate ... I would think this would be probably one of the most showcased developments not just here but everywhere," Hanson said.
"But there are some constraints that I think we have to acknowledge and try to work around here."
CityGate West plans call for constructing several restaurant and retail sites, a medical office building, 19 acres of open space, two hotels with 208 total rooms, and two mixed-use apartment buildings with 410 total units, covered parking and ground-level commercial space.
The dormant Odyssey Fun World building would be repurposed into a music venue and event center, plans show, and a bridge over Route 59 and connectivity to the Illinois Prairie Path would aim to improve pedestrian access to the campus.
Inter-Continental has requested rezoning the site from industrial to an office, commercial and institutional district, where full-service hotels are allowed as a conditional use. But developers and city officials have different interpretations of how the Naperville code defines "full service."
Staff members say the proposed CityGate West hotels do not meet the city's requirements pertaining to size, an on-site restaurant or banquet and meeting space. But Roth said guests will have access to the dining establishments and entertainment opportunities within the walkable campus, satisfying the parameters of the city code.
City officials requested additional information about the former Odyssey Fun World and how it could correlate with a connecting hotel.
Commissioners also asked developers to consider reducing the density of the residential buildings -- a concern brought to light by staff members -- and lower the requested height from 77 to 66 feet. And they encouraged project leaders to seek a resolution with Indian Prairie Unit District 204, which voiced opposition to the project due to student capacity concerns.
With the apartments ranging from studio to two-bedroom units, Roth said CityGate West is primarily geared toward empty nesters and young professionals. Developers anticipate about 31 school-age children living on site, but district officials and residents of a nearby subdivision have said they believe the number of students could be much higher, potentially straining school resources.
In its development application, Inter-Continental also is requesting amending the city code to allow dining establishments as a conditional use in the office, commercial and institutional zoning district; permitting restaurants and retail sites as conditional uses on the property; and several other deviations to facilitate construction.