Author: Jessica Cilella, Daily Herald
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After many years of planning and dispute, Wheaton's Courthouse Square development is back on track to be fully built in the near future.
The Wheaton City Council approved two ordinances Monday, both with a 6-1 vote, that amended the original Courthouse Square development agreement for a fifth time and granted the developer a special-use permit to construct two luxury apartment buildings near Willow Avenue and Naperville Road.
Tim Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Focus Development, which owns the Courthouse Square property, said he expects construction to get underway sometime at the beginning of 2015.
"I just think right now, this project being launched will be on a road to recovery, both of a healing between maybe the neighbors and us and also the fact that Wheaton launched something that will be, I think, a really valuable asset and addition to downtown Wheaton," he said.
A proposal by Focus Development to build 46 townhouses and 206 condominiums in three buildings was approved by the council more than 10 years ago. To date, 24 townhouses and one 50-unit condominium building have been constructed and partially occupied, along with six condominium units inside the old courthouse building.
But in 2012, the council allowed the developer to amend plans and instead move forward with the construction of senior housing in place of the two remaining condominium buildings that were set to be built.
The proposal angered the residents who were already living in Courthouse Square, some of whom then filed a lawsuit. In an attempt to settle the lawsuit, a consent decree was signed in June by the developer, current residents and the city that stated the community would be completed with the construction of two apartment buildings.
Anderson said concerns residents and council members raised about the architectural design of the apartments at a July meeting were taken into consideration. Since then, the plans have been altered to include a Reber Street entrance to an underground parking garage so all access won't be through Liberty Drive.
However, Anderson said he would be standing firm on the materials proposed for the facade, which will differ slightly from the existing buildings. Some council members said they weren't pleased with that decision but agreed there had to be compromises if the project were to move forward.
"Quite frankly I think this is the best interest of the city," councilman Phil Suess said . "We need to get this thing built and move on."
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