Residential shutter proposed for the Naperville iron gate

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In recent years, founder and developer Tom Burgess has watched Iron Gate Motor Condos in Naperville grow from a simple concept to a tight-knit community built on common interests and social camaraderie.

Now he’s looking to add an element that is often the subject of inquiries from potential buyers: permanent living spaces.

A trained industrial builder and avid car enthusiast, Burgess initially designed the gated complex as a safe place for people to store their specialized vehicles and other large collectibles. Garage condominiums can serve as a gathering space, with owners frequently building their units with amenities like kitchens, bathrooms, living room furniture, and elaborate decor.

But an industrial zoning designation prohibits bedrooms in garages, located along Ferry Road in the far northwest of Naperville. So, as an empty nester, Burgess said he wanted to explore creating a “little house, big garage” residential room that caters to the interests and lifestyles of those who are drawn to the Iron community. Spoiled.

“It’s really kind of sizing my life and my real estate to accommodate what I love in life,” Burgess said. “If it works for me, like the original condo concept did, why wouldn’t it work for others like me? “

In the next phase of development, Burgess offered to build six residential buildings with 51 units in total, of which 37 would be townhouses with large garages that could accommodate four to a dozen cars, he said.

The remaining 14 units adjacent to Ferry Road would be a life / work model, where the operator of a business on the first floor would also own and live in a condominium on the top floor. This product is playing into a shift in the dynamics of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Burgess said, underscoring the desire for a shorter commute and greater convenience.

Potential business and condo owners could include financial planners, physical trainers, massage therapists, yoga instructors, architects and other professional services, Burgess said, although “we’ll see what the market is for us. will bring “.

Planning and Zoning Commissioners unanimously supported the next phase of Iron Gate’s development plans, saying the residential component enhances an already unique and well-designed asset in Naperville.

The project would require code exemptions for building materials and land use to allow attached single-family residences and life / work product in an industrial area.

“This is something that is certainly well known in the surrounding suburbs as a differentiator,” Commissioner Manas Athanikar said.

The proposal is now submitted to City Council for final consideration.

Despite the unusual nature of its development, Burgess said town staff were easy to work with and accommodated his ideas every step of the way.

“When you show up in a community and say ‘condominium’, where are they supposed to go with that? It’s not in any zoning (rules), nor in any codebook,” he said. “They really went the extra mile to figure it out and embrace it and make it part of the fabric of Naperville.”


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