Elmhurst Ford Joins the List of Car Dealerships to Close in Town
City manager optimistic about the site; C-3 zoning could mean 'big box' retailer.
Its Web site touts, “DuPage County’s oldest volume Ford dealer.” But Elmhurst Ford, located at 678 N. York Road, has ceased operations.
A staff member said Thursday was the last day Elmhurst Ford would be open, although as of Friday morning, the company’s Web site was still active and its voice mail system was operating normally.
Calls to management personnel at Elmhurst Ford this week were not returned.
Elmhurst Ford, doing business under Elmhurst Motors Inc., was operated by Tom Muisenga.
“The city was made aware of the local dealer’s desire to sell the franchise operation,” Elmhurst City Manager Tom Borchert said Thursday. “The city has been working with Elmhurst Ford and chatting with potential buyers to achieve the objective of keeping that Ford dealer in Elmhurst, but obviously, none of that was able to be achieved.”
Borchert said the inventory and operations of Elmhurst Ford will be taken over by the Larry Roesch Auto Group, at 313 W. Grand Ave. in Bensenville.
“The loss here is the significant sales tax, as paid by the buyers of cars, that is not going to Elmhurst (anymore). It’s going to go to Bensenville,” he said.
He said he can’t divulge how much revenue the city expects to lose, as that is privileged information, but he reiterated that it is a “significant” amount. The city of Elmhurst gets 1 percent tax on each vehicle sold.
“It’s an unfortunate loss,” Borchert said, although he acknowledged that auto sales in general haven’t been stellar in the sluggish economy. It will not affect the city’s budgeting in an immediate way, he said.
“In the shopping cart, there are ins and outs every year,” he said.
He said Elmhurst offers a sales tax rebate program to entice retailers to operate here.
“Sometimes you can get them to come, sometimes you can’t,” he said.
The city contracts with Findzall Community Marketing consultants, which will work with commercial real estate consultant Charlie Van Slyke, Borchert, Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni and others to continue to court retailers for the Ford spot, as well as other retail sites in town.
The Ford property is zoned Commercial-3, Borchert said.
“Any of the traditional ‘big box’ stores could go there,” he said.
Elmhurst Ford is not the first car dealership to leave town or go out of business. The city at one time had two Chevrolet dealerships, now there is none. The Lincoln Mercury site is still vacant since closing last year due to a corporate decision.
“On the positive side, some dealerships have come to Elmhurst,” Borchert said, referring to Wilkins Mazda at 750 N. York Road, which came to Elmhurst from Villa Park.
While he said he is disappointed the city couldn’t find a way to keep the Ford dealer in Elmhurst, he is optimistic about the future for the site.
“Now there’s a site on North York Street in a very nice location, in a wonderful community, right off I-290 that is going to be a good spot for somebody to do something in Elmhurst,” he said. “When one door closes, a window opens.”