Written by Carol Kania Morency
City staff will ask the Elmhurst Zoning and Planning Commission to consider a 65-foot parking deck and retail structure at 135-149 Addison Avenue. This followed more than an hour of deliberation on Monday that included a proposal to reduce this request to 55 feet.
Aldermen who voted for the 65-foot request said they were swayed by the economics of constructing a larger parking deck now, combined with the city's track record of having added stories to decks in the past.
“We have an opportunity to provide all the parking in a key location,” said 7thWard Alderman Mark Mulliner. “We can't be shortsighted in what we're doing.”
He noted that three quarters of the retail space on the west side of Addison is currently vacant.
Earlier this month, a consultant told the City Council if all the property in their downtown study area was open for business, a six-story garage would be needed to accommodate the parking demand.
City staff estimates that the 45-feet, four-levels structure would cost $11.5 million, the 55-feet building would cost $13 million and the 65-feet building would cost $14.5 million.
At one point, 5th Ward Alderman Scott Levin proposed sending a request of 55 feet to the Commission as a compromise. After the debate, only Levin and 3rd Ward Alderman Dannee Polomsky voted to pursue a 55-foot structure.
First Ward Aldermen Diane Gutenkauf and Marti Deuter and 3rd Ward Alderman Michael Bram voted against the final 65-foot decision.
Bram said he thought the assumptions made in the consultant's parking study were “a little extreme.”
“I don't see a need to burden the current taxpayers above 45 feet,” he said.
Deuter noted that the 45-feet structure would still provide almost 500 new parking spaces.
Former 1st Ward Alderman Paula Pezza reminded the council that earlier this year she filed a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Bureau claiming that on two occasions last September, the City Council improperly discussed the development and potential expansion of a proposed parking garage on city-owned land. The Attorney General ruled that the city had to release recordings and closed session minutes involving the Addison Avenue project.
Pezza wondered why many aldermen seemed set on a 65-foot structure.
“What is it that you know that the rest of us...don't know?” she asked.
York Theater owner Willis Johnson, however, said the city needed the parking that the 65-foot structure would provide.