Written by Carol Kania Morency
Elmhurst City Council focused on three main issues Monday night as they continued their discussion about a possible parking deck at Addison Avenue and Second Street:
- Should the garage be taller than four stories?
- Is a loading dock necessary for any retail use?
- How should the city handle ingress and egress issues?
Last week, aldermen heard staff-generated ideas for how to jump-start the project. The parcel in question is less than an acre and has been eyed by the city for a parking and retail development since 2004.
In February, developer Addison LLC applied for a conditional use permit to build a 68-foot high deck with about 20,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor and 30,000 square feet of office space on floors 2 an 3. Addison LLC wanted to be allowed to eliminate the mandatory setbacks and build the structure from lot line to lot line.
The Zoning and Planning Commission turned down this request in June, citing issues with getting in and out of the parking garage and potential pedestrian-vehicle accidents, and questioning the need for office space and additional parking. The commission called the plan to build the structure from lot line to lot line "highly problematic" in terms of safety, creative pedestrian use and future development on the west side of Addison Avenue.
Included in the Zoning and Planning Commission's report was the following:
"From a planning perspective: ... A city investment in enhancing pedestrian access routes between York Street and Addison Ave. through the Schiller Court passage and through the 'alley' access off Second Street to Schiller Court passage to the so-called "doughnut hole' are part of a vision to connect the pedestrian access between York street and Addison Ave., as well as encourage finding new creative ways to re-develop the doughnut hole."
Following the denial, Addison LLC withdrew their variance request, but the city and the developer have until January 2014 to agree on a project.
On Monday, the question about a six-story building seemed to be the easiest for aldermen to answer individually, although they came to different conclusions.
First-ward aldermen Marti Deuter and Diane Gutenkauf both indicated support for only a four-story building, as they believe residents prefer a building in keeping with the current streetscape.
Fifth-ward Alderman Scott Levin, however, supports a six-story building.
“This is the only space we have that parking can be built,” he said.
Mayor Steve Morley agreed, saying that city parking decks in the past have been expanded at added expense.
“A 65-foot deck, designed appropriately, could fit,” he said.
Fifth-ward Alderman Chris Healy said he wanted to study the differences between four and six stories, and said he needs to decide if six stories is appropriate for a parking deck.
Gutenkauf said she wanted city staff to supply addresses of parking garages in the area that were the height of a possible six-story deck, so that she could get an idea of how these buildings looked from the street.
Gutenkauf also said she wanted to hear options for a loading dock, as she has heard of businesses who did not locate downtown because there was no way to unload merchandise. Morley told the council that a project that included a loading dock would need to go back through the public hearing process.
Seventh-ward Alderman Mark Mulliner said he wants to keep loading docks out of downtown while still allowing businesses space to get deliveries.
One aspect of the project that has been discussed in the past but will likely not go forward is the inclusion of office space. Aldermen were not interested in including offices as part of the mix of uses.
“The office space issue should be off the table. Office space can go somewhere else ... But there is an undisputed need for parking in the downtown area,” Levin said.
Alderman did agree that they wanted to make the alley extending south of Second Street one way. Not only would the one-way designation create safer conditions around the deck, but aldermen also believe the narrow alley would encourage use of the Schiller walkway, especially if the “doughnut hole,” currently used for parking, is developed as a pedestrian area.
The council will meet again as a Committee of the Whole Sept.16 to continue the discussion.
Read related articles here:
- Pedestrian Control and the Doughnut Hole
- Letter: CAC Asking Mayor, Aldermen to Take Close Look at Addison Development
- Alderman Mark Mulliner Wants to 'Slow Down,' Rethink Addison Avenue Project
- Six-story Building on Addison Gets a Big 'No' From Elmhurst Zoning Commission
- Residents' Opinions of Downtown Six-story Structure Unchanged After Public Hearing
- Developers of Addison Project Tackle Residents' Concerns at Public Hearing
- Developer of Addison Project is Granted More Time to Prepare for Hearing on Building Height
- Residents Speak of Broken Rules, Sweetheart Deals and Conspiracy at Zoning Meeting
- Hear Discussions from Closed Session Meetings on Addison Avenue Development Project
- Minutes and Tapes of Closed Sessions Regarding Addison Avenue Project Made Public
- Attorney General's Office: Aldermen Violated Open Meetings Act with Closed Talks About Addison Project