Dressed in his traditional top hat and tuxedo, Mayor A. George Pradel described 2012 as a top-notch year for Naperville during his 18th State of the City address.
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Pradel presented his address in front of about 500 people at Chicago Naperville Marriott hotel Monday afternoon. He stressed the importance of community and highlighted the city’s continued growth.
“We are one team,” Pradel said. “With this attitude we provide the people who live and work here with an exceptional quality of life.”
In terms of numbers, Pradel said it was a good year for the city with home sales increasing last summer and retail sales tax revenues growing to $28.5 million in 2012.
Pradel said the city is writing a new chapter in a post-recession economy, citing 66 ribbon cuttings for new businesses in 2012 as a sign of a strong recovery.
“Development happens in Naperville when everyone brings their ideas and talents to the table,” he said. “The Naperville Development Partnership led by Christine Jeffries attracts world-class businesses to the city. The [Naperville] Chamber of Commerce helps them survive and thrive.”
According to Pradel, 2013 will be no different.
A number of new businesses are set to break ground this year including the downtown Main Street Promenade East and highly anticipated Standard Market, which will be located on the former Frank's Nursery property near Aurora and Ogden Avenue.
A new Walmart Supercenter is also planned to be built at 75th Street and Beebe Drive. After receiving a sales tax rebate of $1.75 million over 10 years, the new 170,000 square-foot store will take the place of Walmart’s current Naperville location, 776 S. Route 59.
And getting to these businesses both new and existing will be a little easier after the Route 59 expansion is completed, Pradel said. Illinois Department of Transportation crews are scheduled to begin work this summer to expand lanes from Aurora Avenue to the I-88 interchange.
With an increased police presence in the downtown area last year, the Naperville Police Department as well as city officials made safety a "top priority," he said.
During times of tragedy in 2012, Pradel said the community was able to support each other by coming together.
“When we learned about the horrible school shootings in Newtown Connecticut, our spiritual leaders provided comfort, hope and community,” he said.
Local non-profits and community organizations like KidsMatter have also provided ways for residents to give back to the city and showed Naperville’s “strong volunteer spirit,” Pradel said.
A number of goodbyes were said in 2012, including the retirements of Naper Settlement's President and CEO Peggy Frank as well as North Central College President Harold "Hal" Wilde. Taking on new roles for 2013 are Dan Bridges, the new Naperville School District 203 superintendent, and Troy Hammond the new North Central College president.
The recent demolition of a longtime vacant eyesore at 420 S. Washington St. was met with a welcomed and long overdue goodbye, Pradel said. North Central College announced plans last month to purchase the vacant one-story commercial building and develop the property into a public park.