“Downtown Naperville is the heart of our community. It really is the best of all worlds with popular national stores combined with unique local boutiques that people love. When you combine the great shopping with our many restaurants, spas and service businesses, it’s a great combination,” touted Katie Wood, Executive Director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance.
New stores which have added to the potpourri of Downtown Naperville in the past year include PANDORA, Southern Tide resort apparel (only the third retail store in the United States) and Dark Horse Pastries.
“There has also been an explosion of new places to eat like MOD Pizza, Empire Burgers and Brew and Two Brothers Brewing’s The Craftsman which features three floors of great cuisine including farm-to-table dining,” Wood added.
“There has been tremendous growth and there will be even more as the new Water Street District gradually opens just south of the DuPage River. It will include five restaurants, a wine bar, gourmet craft roaster cafe and significant destination retailers,” she said.
“The Water Street District will be the big story in 2017. It will also include the Hotel Indigo and will mark the first time that we have had a hotel in the downtown area so that people can stay downtown and enjoy the amenities,” Wood said. “With Elements at the Hotel Indigo, brides, event planners and charities can plan distinctive events for up to 250 along the Riverwalk with accommodations, enclosed parking, shopping and dining, all right there.”
Visitors and residents alike are now able to more easily enjoy the Riverwalk, the DuPage Children’s Museum, the Naper Settlement, fine arts performances at North Central College, park district facilities and assorted downtown festivals and concerts. There is even a new fleet of electric vehicles called Tuk Tuks that circle the downtown area. They can be hired to transport up to six people at a time from the four parking decks with their approximately 4,000 free parking spots to restaurants, stores, the train station and more.
“It is a fun way to move people around the downtown,” Wood said.
“Residents have a great sense of pride in our downtown and want to stay informed so we communicate updates actively via social media, emails and our website. Downtown businesses value the support they receive from the Naperville area community,” she added.
Naperville’s new Hotel Indigo with its 158 guest rooms, including 35 suites, officially opened in mid-November.
“I am a lifelong Naperville resident so it is very exciting to see a small farm town transformed into a leisure destination like it has,” said Doug Kelly, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Naperville Hotel Indigo which is part of Intercontinental Hotels.
“Bookings have been going very well. We are getting a great response from the business community, it is becoming a popular wedding destination for both weddings being held at our Elements at Water Street banquet hall and for local weddings being held elsewhere and people are booking here who want to enjoy a romantic getaway or a staycation close to the River Walk and great shopping and restaurants,” Kelly said.
“Local corporations are also booking our meetings facilities for off-site meetings for visiting vendors and employees who want to stay somewhere within walking distance of great restaurants and evening activities. In fact, we plan to place flyers in every guest room that change monthly and explain Water Street District offerings as well as local festivals and sales and events offered by local retailers and restaurants. We will be working in tandem with the Downtown Naperville Alliance on that,” he added.
Hotel Indigo is designed to be reminiscent of Naperville’s agricultural, quarry and manufacturing past. There is reclaimed barn wood and expanses of limestone integral to the architecture and historic murals and nail heads to tie in Naperville’s old Kroehler Furniture Factory, Kelly said.
One of Downtown Naperville’s longest-tenured businesses is the Naperville Running Company at 34 W. Jefferson St., owned by Kris Hartner. He opened the original shop in a much smaller space 16 years ago and since then has grown by leaps and bounds. The store is five times bigger than it was when he opened it in 2000. It now has an additional store in the basement called “The Underground” that caters to high school and college athletes and there is a second store in southern Naperville. In addition, Hartner will open his third store during 2017 in Wheaton.
He is very complimentary of the downtown area which helped his business exceed expectations.
“Downtown Naperville has changed a ton since we first opened. Most of the historically-strong businesses like Anderson’s Bookshop are still here, but they have built so much like the Main Street Promenade, the shopping along South Washington Street and now the Water Street District is opening,” Hartner said. “So we are getting more and more magnet stores and restaurants to the downtown.”
“For our demographic, I particularly appreciate the Apple Store and places like Two Brothers’ Brewing’s restaurant/coffee shop/bar called The Craftsman coming to Naperville. They draw the same demographic that we do and complement our business,” he said.
Naperville has a good balance of national chain stores and restaurants and unique local ventures that draw people in to shop and dine, according to Hartner. Market forces have brought the right mix (no incentives needed in Naperville) and local officials have helped businesses face any challenges that have arisen.
“Local officials in Naperville care, work hard, are fiscally responsible and are really dialed in to what is going on. You don’t find that in every town,” he said.
And thanks to the demographics of Naperville and the vibrancy of its downtown area, Hartner said that, “If someone puts up a vacancy sign you can be sure that they will get lots of calls because business owners want to come here if they can find the right building. People are always looking to locate their businesses in downtown Naperville.”Water Street District Completes the Host of Lifestyle Amenities in Downtown
Stroll along the Riverwalk, catch of glimpse of Dick Tracy, a fountain decked with flowers, shepherds crook lamps lighting the way to five bright mosaic murals depicting scenes of life in Naperville…you’ve found your way to Downtown’s most vibrant new addition, Water Street District.
Whether you are shopping, dining or visiting, Water Street District has much to offer. Anchoring the District is Hotel Indigo, a 158-room boutique hotel designed to reflect the unique history and surroundings of the neighborhood. The hotel features the Plank Bar & Kitchen as well as fitness facilities, a spacious lobby with fireplace and library business center and 38 suites perfect for families, parties and brides. Within the District, you will experience the Sparrow Coffee Cafe, roaster to Chicago’s most prestigious restaurants, as well as SixtyFour-A Wine Bar, featuring 64 wines by the ounce every day, small plates and a thousand wines for purchase by the bottle.
Shopping opportunities include Southern Tide’s first Signature Store in the Midwest, featuring classic color-driven apparel for men, women and children in a bright nautical environment. London Skye offers fashion-forward brands from men and women with European flair in an English pub-like atmosphere. Parents of young children will want to experience Traveling Tots, a high-end children’s boutique coupled with a variety of children’s activities designed to broaden kids’ horizons while their parents shop or dine in downtown.
Hungry yet? On the street you’ll find Quiobo, featuring a vast array of fresh tacos, ceviches and craft margaritas; State & Main with casual favorites and burgers galore; Blue Sushi Sake Grill offering creative sushi and premium sakes with an energetic vibe. On the rooftop you’ll discover Santo Cielo, an American small plate concept paired with craft whiskey cocktails and a stunning view of downtown.
The most memorable weddings, reunions, meetings or charity events are happening at Elements at Water Street, with chef-planned farm-to table meals in dazzling. riverside surroundings. Visit Water Street soon, see what’s new, throw a coin in the fountain and make your own memories.