Committee Wants to Hire a Planner to Craft the Future Look and Feel of North York
"A North York plan will serve as a guide yet have enough flexibility to allow development to be market-driven," proposal says.
The time is right to put together a plan for the North York Road business district rather than react to a developer's ideas, Elmhurst officials said Monday night.
The portion of North York that stretches from North Avenue to Grand Avenue includes a jumble of architectural styles and parcel sizes, with buildings in various stages of occupancy. Mariano's Fresh Market is well under way at York and Industrial Drive, with opening expected by early summer. Aldermen know how that parcel is going to look, but what kind of character should the surrounding area have?
Aldermen Dannee Polomsky (3rd Ward) and Kevin York (7th Ward) asked the Development, Planning and Zoning Committee late last year to begin setting up a framework for development in that area. The committee met Monday to discuss bringing in an expert to craft a vision for North York.
“Like the existing downtown plan, we believe the creation of a North York plan will serve as a guide yet have enough flexibility to allow development to be market-driven," the aldermen wrote in the referral.
Architectural guidelines to be considered include building scale, bulk, proportion, placement and orientation, style, rooflines and parapets, lighting, signage and parking facilities.
The area should have a certain character, aldermen said.
“We have the opportunity to consider uniform signage or street lighting with a distinctive design,” the referral states.
Polomsky stressed the need to consider the work of the city's stormwater committee members, who are studying potential engineering changes to flood-prone areas of town. The referral also noted that the city was looking for pedestrian- and bike-friendly design.
Planning and Zoning Administrator Than Werner and Assistant City Manager Mike Kopp estimated the plan will take six months.
Still No Request for Proposals for Hahn Street
Earlier Monday evening, Elmhurst City Council met as a Committee of the Whole to review a request for proposals for the Hahn Street parcel, bordered by North Avenue, York Road, Addison Avenue and Third Street. The RFP originally was expected to be sent to developers on Feb. 1, but aldermen are continuing to fine-tune it.
The Hahn Street development has been stagnant for about six years due largely to a sluggish economy. This parcel, like the North York Road corridor, is part of a new tax increment financing district (TIF 4) created by the city last year to spur development. Hahn originally was part of downtown TIF 1 but was moved to TIF 4 last year, which created some controversy.
The council has been working on the wording of the Hahn Street RFP since last month. Alderman made clear to city staff that they did not want a recent report by Tracy Cross and Associates to be part of the request, as many aldermen had issues with Cross's conclusion that apartments would be the best option for the site. Aldermen want developers to bring their own ideas to the table.
"I still believe we are in a creative process," 6th Ward Alderman Steve Morley said.
The council will take another look at the RFP on Feb. 25 before sending it out.