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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.”

Mike Worrell February 24, 2011 at 03:27 PM
Re: "More businesses have closed and left town under this administration than any other in the past 50 years." To be fair, this is happening nearly everywhere.
Tina Tuszynski February 24, 2011 at 05:57 PM
The Trader Joe's rumour has been circulating around town for years. I talked to a manager once at a Trader Joe's and he said that Elmhurst unfortunately doesn't meet the demographics for it, and we are also about 15 - 20 minutes away from several other TJ locations. Unfortunate for us, since we could use another option.
Jim Court February 24, 2011 at 11:16 PM
Elmhurst has become way too politicized recently. This ultimately is not good for the health of the community and only lead to division and conflict. Healthy disagreement is acceptable and even desirable. The is what a democracy does. Lately I have noticed what appears to be political operatives writing articles to support not so hidden agendas. Alderman who dare have an independent opinion are being marginalized. This is a page book right out of Chicago politics. We do not need political dynasties. The Elmhurst not so Independent seems to have morphed into an establishment defender of the status quo. I am very thankful that this online paper has come along to allow a little more open discussion and dialogue. Please tell your friends about this as many people are not aware of it. Has anyone really counted the number of places where you can buy food? There are only limited number of dollars available for food purchases in our collective community. Continue to divide the pie and soon all merchants starve. By the way, Elmhurst has its own version of Trader Joe's. It is called the "Good Earth" at York and Vallette.
Tina Tuszynski February 24, 2011 at 11:36 PM
Alas, Jim, Good Earth is closed - at least temporarily. They closed up in January - initially they said they were remodeling and changing the concept to make it more of a restaurant with a deli, and not so much of a grocery store. But they were supposed to reopen in March, and there hasn't been any activity there from what I can see.
Jim Court February 24, 2011 at 11:43 PM
Tina, Perhaps someone should put Trader Joe's in touch with the owners of the Good Earth. I like the Good Earth but perhaps a larger and better known chain such as Trader Joe's might attract more business. I do like to see small businesses thrive and I like the owners of the "Good Earth". You and Karen do a good job and you seem so caring. Jim

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