Letter: Six-story Parking Garage Is Not Right For Elmhurst's Downtown

Support for the structure seems to come from a small, inner circle of leadership, not residents at large.

Why we should not build a 65-foot (six-story) parking garage:

1. There has been no justification given to build the additional parking over what would be produced in a 45-foot (four-story) garage on Addison. According to a city parking analysis in November 2010, we have a sufficient supply for current conditions. Active management of current parking inventory could further optimize its efficiency. The new inventory of a 45-foot garage will accommodate considerable additional downtown development.  

2. It is possible to build too much parking and there are negative consequences to doing so.

3. Although there are economies of scale if more levels are built, reducing the cost per parking space, the overall price tag still goes up with a bigger building.  And the increased cost doesn't end with the original construction: more parking spaces built means more parking spaces to maintain year after year. If we don't need it, we shouldn't build it.

4. A 65-foot building at this location is out of character for the neighborhood.  Many of the surrounding buildings are only one story tall; the tallest immediate neighbor is three stories. Even at 45-feet, this structure, filling the entire lot and possibly more, will be large compared to its neighbors.

5. Although there are three other tall buildings in the city, they are all removed from the city center and all are surrounded by green space; none is built lot-line-to-lot-line.

6. Once one building is built to this height in the downtown core, that will set a precedent for others to follow, setting up an irrevocable change in the character of the town. Perhaps some would like to go in this direction, but converting the downtown like that should not be imposed through the backdoor by starting with the parking garage. You can increase density over time, residential or otherwise, if that's what you want to do, without building everything up to six stories. The Downtown Plan does not envision widespread six-story buildings in general; it definitely does not envision six-story parking garages.

7. Public sentiment at the Zoning Commission public hearing already held was resoundingly against a six-story project at this location; the only support for the excess height came from one businessman. Current letters of support by business organizations, submitted after failure of the initial conditional use and variance application, seem to reflect the views of a small inner circle of leadership, but not necessarily those of the membership at large.

8. The most prominent structure of a city's central core should not be a parking garage.
—Tamara Brenner
Jim Court September 15, 2013 at 10:39 PM
Tamara, I consider you to be a very committed and bright woman. Having said this I do think that you tend to get overly sensitive to those who would disagree with you. I wish to respond briefly to each item you have addressed. 1) A visionary view would look at long term needs and not be just concerned with today. Adding floors right now is cheaper than doing it later as we did with the garage at York & Schiller. 2) Explain the negative consequences of excess parking that seeks to anticipate future growth and needs and to do it now. 3) Cost go up but doing it now saves on future costs and anticipates future needs and perhaps is wisdom. Anytime you build larger maintenance cost go up a little but the return on investment makes it worth while. 4) I guess we should limit building to ranch homes without basements because new homes are out of character with the neighborhood. I value growth and improvement. What does Elmhurst wish to be. Great or average? 5) Please visit other communities. There is a precedent for what we propose to do and truthfully, I like it. 6) According to your logic, Chicago, New York, and many other great cities would not exist. We are not Mayberry. I want greatness, not average. 7) Public sentiment is the lowest common denominator. Is that what you want? You are smarter than than that. Jerry Springer for President? Judge Judy? No thanks. 8) On this, at face value, I will agree. It should not look like a parking garage but still can function as one. Do we seek greatness or do we want to be average? I feel like a snob. I somewhat am underneath my good old boy exterior. Take care.
Jon September 16, 2013 at 07:12 AM
We need more parking for downtown Elmhurst to thrive. I am bothered by the few who choose to opine at every opportunity during the open mic at City Council with the belief that they speak for the community. I find it disgraceful that Tamara saw fit to blast the Patch & the Independent at the last City Council meeting and now writes this letter to those same media sources.
Sleeping Bear September 16, 2013 at 08:41 AM
Tamara, they are correct. I love that you have an opinion. Its just not with the majority. Those coming out to speak are against it, and only number under 100. The vast majority is silent because they don't mind it. I remember a similar parking structure. Made too small. We spent a lot more adding onto it years later (Schiller and Palmer).
anonymous September 16, 2013 at 09:37 AM
Jon it is every Elmhurst citizens right to speak if they wish at the open mic, that's what it's there for. If you don't agree fine but don't belittle others by name calling because they choose to exercise their freedom of speech.
Elm Forest September 16, 2013 at 11:27 AM
Well of course it's going to cost more to add on to an existing building at a later date..? So that doesn't really say anything new! What are the projected costs? That's the real issue along with does Elmhurst really need it and when, what year, will it be needed. The other point I would like to address is this put down going on toward Tamara by some posters on the site. There are those that say the majority is with them and you (the lone voice) is a "Know Nothing". That doesn't mean they really are or she is. There hasn't been a vote by the residents of Elmhurst. Or am I totally misinformed? So, I think you are speaking out of turn or out of order. Where is your proof outside of your own words and desires? Polls can be designed to find the end result by asking pointed questions to achieve a desired conclusion. You have no proof that the majority of voters in Elmhurst want a six story parking garage on Addison. Your testament is just hearsay, not proven. Someone or some town isn't great because they have a 6 story parking garage in their town either Jim.
Susan Smentek September 16, 2013 at 11:44 PM
Thanks, Tamara. You are an important and informative voice in this process.
Jim Court December 29, 2013 at 08:33 PM
What if one floor was dedicated to a roller rink/meeting place/ basketball/ and tennis court ( temporary use) concert venue? This would justify the height and give Elmhurst a destination point, which other than a few places, lacks. Look to Evanston. Would this debate even exist? No wonder Hahn Street lingers. Get it done !!!
Elm Forest December 29, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Jim, I don't mean to be mean but are you really that reaching to think the taxpayers are supposed to pay for another misunderstood idea of yours? Your ideas justify nothing. It's a proposed parking garage Jim. All the floors aren't needed, so build it up to four and no more as the city should NOT be passing on more costs to the good people that live in Elmhurst so that someone else profits. Move to Evanston if you think it's a better place to live than Elmhurst Jim, I won't be following you. The city has been moving forward on the Northern Corridor and Hahn so it's too bad that the wrong decision wasn't made already so you could complain about that too. Or do you have a personal stake in some of this?


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