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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.”

Jim Court February 19, 2011 at 04:03 AM
Dan, I agree. I have long said that this town could use a Lowes as it is consistent with the demographics of our community and it would prevent our tax dollars from going to other communities. It was obvious that Elmhurst Ford was going nowhere. It was stuck in the 70's and the owner refused to invest in any basic repairs or upgrades. Most of the mechanics left or were disgusted. I hate to sound negative but this was the truth, which unfortunately gets subverted in order to cast a unrealistic view of things. If I were a politician or code enforcement I would have long ago encouraged this business to improve its image. Instead I heard accolades about how wonderful it was. Attracting business is good but I still believe our greater benefit will be derived from the continued building of upscale homes whose increased property tax will generate monies to maintain and even improve the quality of our community. it will also protect the value of all properties. We have made huge mistakes that have cost us greatly. The building by the Library torn down for about 1 1/2 million and then the purchase of the school administrative building later. The other building could have been used. Why we tore down the fire station is beyond me. A true rush to judgment and a waste of a viable building. Hahn street languishes. Prosaic and conventional thinking is never going to give us the creativity that is needed. We need high level strategic thinking. We need it now, before it is too late.
Joe O'Malley February 20, 2011 at 02:07 AM
"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." Please explain why a City Sales Tax revenue stream is priveleged information? Would the the Freedom of Information Act be of any use here?
Jim Court February 20, 2011 at 04:10 AM
I have noticed very little response or dialogue on these pages concerning issues that significantly impact our community. Either this "paper" needs to aggressively publicize it's existence or the public just doesn't care and lacks interest.
Karen Chadra (Editor) February 20, 2011 at 04:55 AM
Readership is steadily growing, but feel free to help us spread the word! People seem most interested in crime-related articles.
Joe O'Malley February 20, 2011 at 04:59 AM
Jim...What we need is good "ole fashion" scandals that are laced with political controversy, sex, infidelity, and / or corruption that involves the people who call the financial and political shots in this little town of Mayberry. And these scandals need to be "scooped by the Patch." "Happy News" is uninteresting and just doesn't sell like a good crisis.
Karen Chadra (Editor) February 20, 2011 at 05:30 AM
It just refers to each local area, like a Patch of grass or territory. When you have a bunch of Patches, they kind of all join together and blanket the country, like Patchwork. I like the Patch the Dog idea. (But I'm not volunteering for that job)
Jim Court February 20, 2011 at 03:12 PM
Karen, Since you are an online newspaper, I doubt that traditional papers would want to carry your advertising although they might have no choice. The affiliation with AOL is a huge benefit but so many people I mention your name to are clueless about your existence. Would your organization consider a mailing directly to the public? All methods of publicity must be considered. I wish there was a political column that would challenge the status-quo and ask the difficult questions that must be asked. Sometimes I feel bad for my sometimes inclination in doing this. I am truly an optimist and possibility thinker but I see so many areas for improvement that are not being met. I am a perpetual student of leadership and problem solving and an overactive mind seeks to analyze constantly. Sometimes it is a curse and I wish I could turn it off. I hope for continued growth of this "paper". Is there anything I can do to help?
Barbershopgal February 24, 2011 at 04:17 AM
Lowes would be good, but isn't Elmhurst just crying for a Trader Joes? We'd be the perfect community for one!
Joe O'Malley February 24, 2011 at 04:38 AM
Trader Joe's would be nice. However, groceries don't generate maximum tax revenue for the hungry city coffers.
Bill Angel February 24, 2011 at 06:05 AM
There will be no Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Mariano's Foods or any other grocer coming to Elmhurst. Demographics are not favorable and too much competition with two Jewels and two Dominicks within the 5 mile radius. Some moron at City hall is full of either balony or himself. More businesses have closed and left town under this administration than any other in the past 50 years.
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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