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Elmhurst City Council Members Begin to Develop Criteria for Hahn Site

Requests for proposals will be going out to developers soon as city officials get a second crack at this stalled development.

Elmhurst aldermen will spend some time over the next month thinking about the most important elements of any new development at Hahn and York streets. City staff presented a first draft of a request for proposals for the site on Monday, and asked aldermen what they would like to emphasize for those 10 parcels that form a northern gateway to City Centre.

The site in question, bordered by North Avenue, York Road, Addison and Third streets, was part of the downtown tax increment financing district (TIF 1) that was established in 1986, but economic decline stalled development there. The developer formerly under contract with the city, Morningside Group, cut its losses and walked away from the project; the city let Morningside out of its contract last March. The Hahn parcels were then moved into the newly created North York Road TIF, which stretches up to Grand Avenue.

The RFP calls for developers to bring ideas for a residential building with first-floor retail and at least 100 public parking spaces. The city wants to limit the height of the building to four stories, or 45 feet, on the York Road side and three stories, or 35 feet, on the Addison Street side.

Proposals will be evaluated by assigning points to a list of criteria, which is likely to include economic feasibility and how well the project fits into the neighborhood. Aldermen want some criteria to weigh more than others, and they also want to consider adding some as well.

First Ward Alderman Diane Gutenkauf, for example, wants to give extra points to any project that improves the site's ability to handle stormwater. Third Ward Aldermen Dannee Polomsky suggested more emphasis on accessibility beyond what is required by the Americans With Disabilities Act, and 4th Ward Alderman Kevin York said he wanted to see details on how any development would impact local schools.

Fifth Ward Alderman Scott Levin said he wondered how best to evaluate any proposal's architecture, noting that “good” design may not fit with the other buildings in the area.

Assistant City Manager Mike Kopp suggested staff provide detailed descriptions of each criterion, then send a survey to council members asking how they would weigh each item.

The request for proposals will state the city also is open to developer ideas beyond retail and residential uses. Aldermen have said they wanted to see creative uses for the site. But a consultant told them in September, then that the current market conditions make apartments the best option for the parcels.

Residents of Elmhurst: What kind of development would you like to see at Hahn Street? Tell us in the comments.

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Tom Macchione December 01, 2012 at 12:33 AM
What about using all those ideas in the parks we already have that no one uses. Development supports local business and makes for a vibrant economy. Apartments wouldn't be cheap so people there would most likely add to the community. Many people are now choosing not to own real estate in IL because of the horrible financial condition of this state so people that need to live here will be needing apartments. I see no problem with more density in the downtown district. Why does everyone think there is collusion when a private developer wants to build and assume the risk that comes along with it. I say keep the gov't out of it because there is nothing valuable that they can add to the mix. Gov't is just an impedance to growth, note the obama policies.
Jim Court December 01, 2012 at 04:23 AM
Tom, Your logic is good. I would agree that the parks do not get the use they should. Residents of Elmhurst seem somewhat introverted and conservative so Parks do go unused. I agree that there will be a demand for apartments. Seniors who do not wish to own and for younger people who wish to live in the area. My thought was that we need a community gathering spot located in the downtown central district. Do any of the readers of these pages have any ideas? I would like to hear them.
Jim Court December 02, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Has the Patch lost its voice? In someways it seems similar the the Elmhurst Not So Independent. Unwilling to challenge anything and very deferential to those in positions of authority. The limited number of people responding suggests the possibility.
Susan Smentek January 24, 2013 at 03:13 AM
If you have kids in sports activities, than you might say that the Elmhurst Parks get used a lot. They're packed with activities. More transient density in downtown Elmhurst hurts the long time residents (who already have no green space).
Jim Court January 24, 2013 at 04:17 AM
Susan, You have a good point but doesn't transient activity support our merchants and add to our tax dollars. Green space would be a wonderful addition to the downtown. It might even be better than development over the long haul.

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