Plans for Aurora include Route 59 commercial, buildings

Amy Roth
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The Aurora City Council March 5 Committee of the Whole meeting at City Hall included plans for Route 59 commercial corridor building, road resurfacing, and firefighters’ ballistic vests.

• Plans for Route 59, old West Aurora building discussed.

A Route 59 corridor plan that lays out a new look and new purposes for Fox Valley Mall and the surrounding area was sent on for Aurora City Council approval March 12.

If approved, the study would be included in the City of Aurora’s Comprehensive Plan for the corridor, which includes property east of the Canadian National Railroad tracks, west of Route 59, north of Montgomery Road, and south of the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks.

Oliver Robinson, executive vice president of development and construction for Centennial Group, the majority land owner of Fox Valley Mall, came to the meeting from Texas in support of the plan, said Trevor Dick, the city’s director of development strategy and facilitation.

Oliver told the Committee of the Whole that the mall is “absolutely” on board with the plan, and that Centennial is interested in continuing to “invest in the community.”

Aldermen seemed to be on board with the Route 59 plan, as well. Eighth Ward alderman Rick Mervine said that the city has an “exciting opportunity here. It’s something we need and the need is based on real world activity.”

The city government of Aurora hired Schoppe Design Associates Inc., of Oswego, as the consultants on the plan in February 2018, said Carrie Hansen, director of planning & governmental services for Schoppe Design. The city government decided to reevaluate the Route 59 corridor because of changes in buying habits and a market analysis that revealed demand for housing, new retail, and a grocery store.

Key developments in the plan include Pacifica Square, which already is under construction just north of Fox Valley Mall, Gramercy Townhomes, already under construction just north of Calvary Church, and a number of other retail, restaurant and entertainment venues, including a commercial badminton facility, senior housing, and a new look and purpose for Fox Valley Mall.

Potential mall projects included in the study are redevelopment of the vacant Sears and Carson’s stores, an “intergenerational village of customers and community,” more open space for activities such as farmers markets and art fairs, and an inner-ring road that will continue a Main Street theme around the mall.

Hansen said the new mall plan “announces Aurora,” and “sets the tone for what happens as you move west.”

She added that the plan should be “updated and analyzed” regularly, at least every five years.

• In other development news, the $6 Million redevelopment of the downtown former West Aurora Schools administration building by Metro West Developers will be on the Council’s March 12 meeting agenda.

Metro West Developers’ principals are Aurora native Mike Russ, owner of Aurora Wire; Russ Woerman with carpentry company KWCC, Inc.; and attorney Mike Poulakidas. The development agreement involves the city’s selling the building to the company for $1 and pledging an $850,000 grant to be paid out based on performance.

The property is at 80 S. River Street and would include commercial space on the first floor, which developers say is fully leased to Aurora Wire, KWCC, Kluber Architects + Engineers, and Framing Fame. The second floor would be built as apartments.

• Council may approve road resurfacing.

It’s almost road construction time in Aurora, and City Council will vote March 12 on spending $7.1 Million for the citywide resurfacing program for 2019.

Builders Paving, LLC, of Hillside, won the contract for the work. The City maintains nearly 1,300 miles of streets. In 2019, the contract includes the resurfacing of 59.7 lane miles of streets. In 2018, the City resurfaced 51.8 lane miles.

“City engineers review all the streets in the City and resurface them based on need,” said director of Public Works, Ken Schroth.

A list of all streets to be resurfaced will be posted on the City’s website under “Construction,” he said.

Construction is expected to begin in April, “as soon as the asphalt plants open, which is temperature-dependent,” Schroth said. Construction is to be complete by October.

The money for the paving is in the 2019 budget, with about $3 Million coming from motor fuel tax funds.

Schroth said crews are working on filling potholes. Residents can call customer service at 630-256-INFO to report potholes.

• Firefighters may get ballistic vests, helmets.

Aurora firefighters will be outfitted with ballistic vests, helmets, goggles, and medical supplies if a resolution to purchase them is approved during the March 12 City Council meeting.

The purchase will be included on the consent agenda.

Assistant chief Dave McCabe told aldermen that the decision to purchase the equipment was made in January 2018, but that after the mass shooting at the Henry Pratt Plant in Aurora February 15, the purchase was accelerated.

Every riding position on every fire vehicle will have the new equipment, McCabe said. The total for 60 vests, helmets, goggles, and other accessories purchased from several vendors is $86,349.

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