Jefferson Avenue in downtown Naperville beamed in bright beauty on the evening of Dec. 24 as last-minute shoppers hurried home for the holiday.
We posted the above photo atop a social media site for Positively Naperville on Dec. 26, mindful that already days are getting longer after last week’s recognition of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. When former residents now in faraway places saw the photo, a couple wondered what familiar businesses were still among the historic buildings along Jefferson Avenue.
One reader asked about a recently opened store on Jefferson Avenue, “What’s the name of the spice shop on Jefferson?” We wondered, too, also mindful that other readers had inquired, “What’s going in where The Craftsman used to be?”
With pen and pad in hand, we ventured downtown. We identified more than 50 street-level businesses along Jefferson Avenue in the three-block area from Webster Street to Ellsworth.
We noted The Spice House, located between Jimmy John’s and Front Street Cantina. Across the street, signage for “AltaVida!” covered all storefront windows where The Craftsman had been, leading us to discover three floors of dining, cocktails and entertainment are coming soon.
We also were reminded how our quaint downtown used to be as recently as 1993, the year our family moved here. Back then, Russell’s Cleaners, Someplace Else, Cee Bees Grocery, City Meat Market, Jan’s Gift House, Anderson’s Bookshop, Naper Nuts & Sweets, Toenniges Jewelers, Oswald’s Pharmacy, Jefferson Hill Tea Room and Roseland Draperies attracted our business and welcomed us newcomers when population signs read “89,000.”
Taking notes along the sidewalks of Jefferson Avenue the other day, we observed mostly changes in the popular walkable destination.
What’s stayed in place along Jefferson since 1993 can be counted on one hand: Anderson’s Bookshop, Gotskind’s Children’s Shoes & Clothing, Naperville Masonic Temple, Naperville Nuts & Sweets and the Christian Science Reading Room.
Jefferson Avenue from Webster to Ellsworth streets
Northside of Jefferson Avenue
Gotskind’s Children’s Shoes & Clothing
Sara Boo Creek
Main Street Crosses Jefferson
Lynfred Wine Tasting
Front Street Cantina*
Washington Street crosses Jefferson
Jefferson Hill Shops
Quigley’s Irish Pub* (Celebrate the New Year at 6PM, Midnight in Dublin.)
PHO Chicago and Cajun*
Dommermuth, Cobine, West, Genzler, Philipchuck and Corrigan Law
Southside of Jefferson Avenue
Main Street Crosses Jefferson
Naperville Running Co.
Naperville Masonic Temple
Jin 28 Panasian Sushi*
Artistic Creations Salon
Annex Naperville Running Company
La Sorella di Francesca*
AltaVida!* (Coming Soon)
Naper Nuts & Sweets*
Noodles & Company*
Washington Street crosses Jefferson
Space Available (Roseland Draperies thrived there from 1986 for some 30 years!)
Christian Science Reading Room
North Central College Campus Store
*Restaurants, eateries and sweet treat shops
What’s more, Downtown Naperville now is home to Hotel Indigo Naperville Riverwalk along Water Street. Nationally-known companies and one-of-a-kind boutiques are sandwiched among restaurants and sweet shops, aiming to whet every appetite and fit every pocketbook.
Great Indoor Sidewalk Sales set for Jan. 12-15 / Barnes & Noble Booksellers announces closing downtown location on Jan. 21
Members of the Downtown Naperville Alliance (DNA), the group that serves as a marketing and advocacy partner for Naperville’s downtown Central Business District, comprised of 300 businesses, always anticipate changes after the holidays.
One change already announced in a much-reported Instagram post on Wed., Dec. 27, is that Barnes & Noble Booksellers will be moving from its Washington Corners location at Chicago Avenue to Oswego. After 25 years, the Naperville location of Barnes & Noble will close on Sun., Jan. 21.
Moving right along, find plenty to do throughout the mix from one block to the next. Though “Main Street” is a most familiar name throughout the U.S. designating attractive shopping destinations, Jefferson Avenue could be considered the main street in Naperville’s Central Business District, running east to west in between Ellsworth and Eagle streets.
(Street Smarts FYI: Anyone unfamiliar with downtown will find Jackson Avenue runs parallel to Jefferson from Washington Street. Chicago Avenue is one block over from Jackson, ending at the Main Street Bridge. Just over the Main Street Bridge, turn west at Water Street, the short street with Hotel Indigo. Benton Avenue is the dividing street between north and south Washington, and pretty much the northern border to downtown. Main Street, featuring shops and visibility to parking lots, runs from Benton Avenue to Aurora Avenue. Other streets that run north to south through the heart of downtown are Ellsworth, Washington, Webster and Eagle.)
Downtown Naperville is just steps from the Naperville Riverwalk, Nichols Library, Naperville Municipal Center, Naper Settlement, Century Walk public art and Wentz Concert Hall at the North Central College Fine Arts Center. It’s also a short distance along Washington Street to the DuPage Children’s Museum and the Naperville Train Station near Fifth Avenue. And another short distance leads to Edward Hospital at 801 S. Washington.
Jefferson Avenue and Washington Street projects
PN readers and downtown merchants have inquired regarding progress of the Washington Street Bridge construction, hopeful that crews could step up activity toward completion of the first stage. The second stage of the bridge rebuild is listed as “tentatively scheduled” to begin in spring 2024, pending the completion of stage one. Stage one still appears to be behind schedule.
With delays in mind and back-up along Washington Street to Jefferson Avenue, we’re reminded to share the adage that “progress comes with patience.”
The City’s website notes that “the City secured federal funding from IDOT to perform the project through the Federal Bridge Program, which will cover 80 percent of the cost.”
Also, we’re mindful that last February the City postponed Washington Street Streetscape improvements until spring 2024 because of complications with the underground utilities. We’re trying to imagine how the proposed project planned from Benton Avenue to Chicago Avenue will fit into the mix if yet-to-be completed first stage of the bridge construction just south of Chicago Avenue is behind schedule.
According to the City’s website, the proposed second phase of the Washington Street Streetscape improvements “which is tentatively scheduled to begin in spring 2024, includes utility repair and upgrades, streetscape modernization, and complete road reconstruction. These updates will improve pedestrian mobility, accessibility, and safety in this area. There are no proposed changes to the parking along Washington Street.”
The Riverwalk Commission PDC meets at 7:30AM on Tues., Jan. 2, 2024. An update on the Washington Street Bridge construction likely will be presented then, as the Riverwalk also connects to Washington Street.
Update, Jan. 2, 2024 / Happy New Year! During an update regarding the schedule of completion of the Washington Street Bridge during the monthly Planning, Design and Construction (PDC) meeting of the Riverwalk Commission, Riverwalk Commissioners in attendance learned the project continues to be “way behind.” This spring and with a goal of May 1, the first phase is expected to be completed. On a good note, the goal remains to see completion of the second phase by the end of 2024, according to Bill Novack, Director of Transportation/Engineering/Development. The Riverwalk Commission will meet next at 7:30AM Wed., Jan. 10, in the NEU at the Naperville Municipal Center.
Find free parking in decks, surface lots and curbside
Still, folks find other ways to cross over the DuPage River to visit downtown Naperville, either over the Main Street Bridge or the Eagle Street Bridge. And once there, visitors find one of downtown’s parking decks is along Jefferson Avenue, just east of Washington Street. In addition, they’ll find free parking (more than 4,000 spaces!) throughout the Central Business District.
Visitors also will be welcomed by one of the lowest retail sales tax rates (7.250%) in the Western Suburbs.
For a listing of all the businesses throughout the Central Business District, you can always go to www.downtownnaperville.com.
Look toward ‘One Two Three, One Two Three’ on NYE
Looking toward Sun., Dec. 31, 2023, be prepared to make history on the eve of “One Two Three, One Two Three” to ring in 2024.
Even if skies continue to be cloudy and gray in Naperville, the sun will set at 4:33:09PM on 12-31-23 aka “123-123.”
To find last-minute availability for dinner reservations in downtown Naperville, check out restaurant NYE events.
Thanks for reading and supporting local businesses here, there and everywhere whenever possible. Let the countdown begin. Celebrate safely.
Perhaps on New Year’s Day, come stroll Jefferson Avenue and keep up with what’s new throughout downtown Naperville.
—Stephanie Penick, PN
Jefferson Avenue photos courtesy Naperville resident Daniel Bulley
On a social media page that featured PN’s photos of Jefferson Avenue, Daniel Bulley wrote, “Been here for 60 years and it’s always been changing.”
Later he sent two photos that show some of the changes with another comment, “I went out early in the morning in 2015 to get this photo to match the other one.”
We appreciate Daniel Bulley’s contribution to this historic look at the ever-changing streetscape in downtown Naperville. —PN