North Central College and the City of Naperville are partnering to convert a downtown eyesore into a public park.
The College is purchasing the property at 420 S. Washington Street, a vacant one-story commercial building adjacent to the Naperville Riverwalk. The city will demolish the building, and the College intends to develop the property as a park and additional entryway to campus.
“For a long time the College has shared a dream with the city to recreate the beauty of Fredenhagen Park and the Riverwalk on this property,” says Dr. Harold R. Wilde, North Central College president. “This site is the intersection of Naperville’s college, downtown Naperville and the City’s Riverwalk.”
The new park will complement two other recent public improvements on the North Central College campus: the Riverwalk Gateway and Sesquicentennial Walkway. The Riverwalk Gateway connects the College and Riverwalk to Naperville’s Fredenhagen Park, located northeast of the Washington Street bridge over the DuPage River. The Sesquicentennial Walkway is a landscaped pedestrian path that runs through the heart of campus between Benton and Jefferson avenues. The new park will be located just across the pedestrian Moser Bridge from the Riverwalk Gateway.
“North Central College is a tremendous partner to the City of Naperville, and we are so pleased to announce the pending demolition of the building on this property,” Mayor A. George Pradel said. “By removing this building and keeping the area as open space, our residents will have another beautiful place to come and relax. The open appearance of this area is also a pleasing gateway to the City’s downtown. I am so proud that the College and City are able to work together on projects such as this to benefit the overall quality of life for our wonderful community.”
The Naperville City Council on Dec. 18 authorized City Manager Doug Krieger to award a contract to demolish the structure located on the property commonly known as 420-440 S. Washington St. and release a $235,000 lien the city had placed on the property. The city imposed the lien to cover property-maintenance fines that had been levied over the years after the property had been in foreclosure and vacated.
The building dates back to 1930 and through the years housed various commercial enterprises. The building has been vacant for about a decade, its condition has deteriorated and the site has become overgrown with vegetation.
Also on Dec. 18, the Naperville City Council unanimously approved a resolution honoring Wilde for his nearly 22 years of service as president of North Central College. Wilde retires on Dec. 31 and will be succeeded by Dr. Troy D. Hammond, who becomes the 10th president in the College’s 151-year history on Jan. 1.