WHEATON – After months of negotiation and a legal settlement, both sides of the Courthouse Square development spoke Monday before the Wheaton City Council about their hopes for the future of the apartment complex.
Property owners Focus Wheaton Residence and Courthouse Land Development presented during a public hearing, which was a part of a legal agreement between the city, the developers and residents.
"While I can't sincerely say it's a pleasure to be before you this evening, it is a relief," said Henry Stillwell, the attorney for the owners. "I can say, without qualification, we are here this evening, my client is here this evening, enthusiastically looking forward to completing the project he initiated 10 years ago."
The original plan for the property was to construct 240 condos and townhomes in two structures across the six-acres along Naperville Road and Willow Avenue.
But in 2012, the developers amended the project to include senior housing. Residents sued that October, saying the change was unconstitutional and would lower property values, raise fees and possibly cause traffic problems.
City Attorney Jim Knippen was authorized by the city to sign an agreement in June to construct 153 apartments across two, six-story buildings. The apartments will eventually be turned into condominiums, said Principal Architect Jeff Zelisko of Antunovich Associates.
Despite the agreement, a number of residents – and the lawyer representing those who sued – had some requests for the council before city staff moved forward with the zoning.
Attorney Phillip Luetkehans, who represented the homeowners in the suit, said his clients are pleased with the development and don't object to the concept. However, they still have some concerns.
Luetkehans said his clients are hoping the city requires the developers to include an entrance to the underground parking facility on Reber Street to allow for better access and to consider adding parking spaces to the proposed 195.
Building resident Barry Tusin said solely having the proposed entrance at Liberty Drive would cause congestion.
"It was in the original plan and the plan I saw before I purchased," he said. "It made sense also to me just as a citizen to have two forms of egress when you have 100-plus parking spots. We hope you approve what I think is a reasonable and welcome addition."
Luetkehans also said residents hope to see better quality materials on the top of the building's facade and considerations for flood mitigation and the height of the new buildings.
Currently, 24 townhomes and a 50-unit condominium building have been constructed with an additional six condominium units inside the old courthouse building.
Council members John Prendiville and Evelyn Pacino Sanguinetti said they would like to see the Reber entrance and masonry to match existing buildings on the new development.
"It's a beautiful development," Prendiville said. "It's been done to very high standards. I'd like to complete the development to those same high standards because this is going to be around here for many, many years."
The city will consider and vote on the developer's zoning application at a future meeting.