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Cleanup in Elmhurst Involves Tearing Down and Digging Out

Defunct Brown's Chicken was razed Tuesday, and remediation at Pauli's is nearing completion.

A couple of problem areas in Elmhurst are being cleaned up, and while new development is not imminent, the cleanup will help pave the way for any future projects.

The old Brown's Chicken restaurant, at York and Seminole Avenue, was torn down Tuesday morning.

"That was really an eyesore for quite some time," City Manager James Grabowski said. "I'm glad we were able to work together with the owner to get that taken care of."

The building was part of an area currently being considered for a Brown's, along with two other shuttered businesses across the street, TCBY Yogurt and Dulles Cleaners, have been vacant for years. The properties on the east side of York are under different ownership than the Brown's property.

The city had hoped for a large-scale, planned development in the area, "but for whatever reason, it didn't work out for the owners," Grabowski said.

"There is a permit application in for a dental office (where TCBY is)," Grabowski said. "So that building will be town down when the new dental office is built."

The ground underneath the former Dulles Cleaners is suspected to be contaminated with dry cleaning chemicals, Grabowski said. Remediation may be necessary before development can proceed.

"That's one of the reasons we're looking at a TIF district there," he said. "We can use TIF funds to clean that up. If it does make it less desirable and make it cost prohibitive, that's the whole idea behind the TIF—to encourage development by helping to pay for those kinds of costs."

In another area of town, the ground is known to have been contaminated.

, at 260 N. York Road in the heart of downtown, has been undergoing remediation procedures since last week. A large hole was dug in the parking lot of Panera Bread, which is directly north of Pauli's, and environmental contractors have removed many tons of soil contaminated by leaking underground gas tanks.

The site is the location of the proposed Hahn Street development, which has undergone some major revisions since developer Morningside first presented its plans to the city in 2007. The development originally was to include 82 condominiums, seven townhomes and 20,000 square feet of retail space. Morningside last month that includes rental apartments and 12,600 square feet of retail for the site.

The remediation is a joint effort between the owners of Pauli's and Morningside, Grabowski said.

"It's a project the owner of the gas station and the developer have been working on for some time," he said. "It's something that has to happen regardless of when the property is developed. They had all of their permits in place and decided to move forward."

Leaking underground gas tanks is not an uncommon problem, he said. The same remediation process was completed a few years ago at York and Vallette, before the now-vacant Good Earth Market was built.

"I think the old tanks, which were steel, were just prone to leaking," he said.

The hole has been filled in with gravel and the lot soon will be paved. It can't happen soon enough for patrons of and , who use the businesses' east parking lot.

As for the bigger economic picture, Grabowski said the ongoing discussion about forming TIF districts has brought interest from developers.

"There are some developers that are looking at parcels on North York," he said. "There are some big properties we'd like to see redeveloped, like Steven's Steak House, the . We'd love to see some of those come down. I think those will be some targeted properties for the city."

Karen Stezowski November 10, 2011 at 04:25 PM
Or....how about we consider finishing out both blocks as residential, then having the green space as a buffer, and THEN having businesses.
Jeff Smithson November 10, 2011 at 04:40 PM
@BA - agreed, however, the rules on the books require a minimum to be done to maintain the property. There are no rules, nor should there be, to require landowners to have tenants. I do not believe the city had anything to do with the failed grocery at york and valette. Do you have any proof of that or is that an assumption on your part? @KS - I'm fine with that, but when you write "we consider...", who is the "we"? The city can't force the landowners to sell to residential builders nor can it force the building of residential. If there are problems underneath the soil of both parcels, somebody is going to have to do something to clean it up. Until then, the properties sit..vacant...like they have for years. At least now one of the ugly eyesores is down. It's a start. If "we" want something, like residential, done there, "we" may have to pay for it.
Ken November 11, 2011 at 06:30 PM
A grocery store would be nice at the Ford dealership but NOT Whole (paycheck)Foods. We already have a high priced store in Dominick's at York and Grand. Sad to hear the Hahn devolopment my go rental. We have enough Section 8 rentals in this town as it is now.
M May 17, 2012 at 04:40 PM
The park district should invest in the old brown chicken lot and keep it green with flowerbeds to tie in with the rest of the prairie path. If they closed Seminole Ave off and made it a no drive through street they could make a bridge over to the prairie path. It would look pretty and bring up that neighborhood to what it should be. If they closed off traffic by Seminole & York they would also stop all the insane rush through cut through traffic that occurs when York & St. Charles gets backed up. Seminole is a long and straight road and cars speed through the side streets like crazy at rush hour and it could be just a matter of time before a child gets hit. If nothing else they should make speed bumpers on Seminole to slow down traffic. Nice bumpers with flowers or plant boxes so it ties in with our beautiful Prairie path. Why doesn’t the City ever think & invest in something nice like that?
JJ January 02, 2013 at 01:52 PM
What are they building at the old TCBY location?

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