Mayor Alludes to New Grocer in Town, Explains His Reasons for Running for County Board

Mayor Pete DiCianni presents his third annual State of Our City address.

Things are much better in Elmhurst today than they were in 2009, Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni told the crowd at his third State of Our City Address Tuesday at .

When he came into office three years ago, he said the city only had about one month of operating expenses in reserve, business vacancies were up, sales tax revenue was plummeting, roads were in bad shape and the housing market was at a standstill.

"When I think about what we walked into in 2009, in the middle of a recession with jobs going down, we are now a town that is actually producing jobs and developing new businesses," he said.

Economic indicators are pointing in the right direction now, he said.

"In 2011, there were 57 new homes built. That's a 20 percent increase," he said. Nearly 3,000 permits were issued last year for new construction, and home and business improvements, he added.

He referred to the new campus and its new medical office building as an "economic engine," providing jobs for some 3,600 people.

He also cited , a retirement community that invested $176 million in its new facility and will provide more than 200 new jobs; the new retail development at Route 83 and St. Charles Road that has provided 150 new jobs; the , which has invested $3 million into the old Saturn building on Grand Avenue and provided 100 permanent new jobs; Navistar's new 24,000-square-foot facility on County Line Road; major remodeling project in town; and a variety of new restaurants.

"We rolled out the red carpet for businesses and residents," he said.

Looking Ahead: A New Grocer in Town?

In 2012, the city can expect growth to continue, he said.

"We also are working on a very large grocer," he said. "In 2009, I talked about trying to get a Trader Joe's in town. This grocer—and I can't mention the name, but hopefully it will be happening in the near future—will be a combination of Trader Joe's, Costco, Caputo's. It will be something very unique that will only have about 20 (locations) in the Chicago area."

He said the grocer is slated for an area on the north end of town.

"We are working diligently to get destination retailers into this community," he said. "The bottom line is, they will add a lot of value to this community and bring in people from other communities. That is our goal."

Also in the works for 2012 is a new parking deck on Addison Street, a new cancer treatment center on Brush Hill, 26 new townhomes at The Atrium and new senior-care complex at the hospital's former campus on Berteau.

The Hahn Street development is still on the table, but "we're taking a little bit of time with it because we want to make sure it's right. We've got a lot of ideas that could work, but we need to flesh it out."

Three More TIFs

will bring developers to the "tired" areas in town, along York Road between North and Grand avenues, at York and Vallette and on Riverside Drive, he said.

"If you look at the areas that are very vibrant—downtown, St. Charles and Route 83—those areas were tired. Back in the 1970s and 80s, when I was a kid, the leaders of this town sought out financing districts for those areas. That is something we are in the process of doing (again)," he said. "We're looking at three that need a shot in the arm."

The property along Riverside Drive was not able to be developed previously because it has been in the flood plain, according to the 2006 FEMA flood map.

"Stormwater really controls economic development," he said. "If you're in a flood plain, you can't build."

But with the stormwater reservoir at the Elmhurst Stone Quarry, the area is no longer in danger of flooding due to rising water in Salt Creek, and the plan is to work with DuPage County to draw that area out of the flood plain.

"Wouldn't it be nice to have a big box store to compete with Walmart (across the street) right here in Elmhurst?" he said.

His Run for County Board

But it wasn't the creek that caused the flooding of hundreds of Elmhurst homes in 2010.

"That was because we had 7 inches of rain in a couple of hours," he said.

Solutions to that kind of flooding will cost between $25 million and $50 million. And that is the reason he is running for a seat on the DuPage County Board.

"This would put Elmhurst in a great position to bring home dollars for infrastructure and stormwater improvements," said DiCianni, who serves on the DuPage Stormwater Management Committee. "These are the concerns I have. When you walk through the streets and you see people with tears in their eyes taking their basements out onto the front lawn, you've got to do everything you can to help them."

A Slow Climb

Even with all the development in town, the city is not out of the woods yet, he said.

"It's a slow climb up, and the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to get brighter," he said.

He reminded the audience that the city is seeking this year.

"The City Council has said we are not going to increase our levy this year," he said. "With so much economic development going on and so much coming in, we think we can grow our way out of this. I'm all for that."

Adam January 24, 2012 at 09:29 PM
@Duke of York, maybe you should listen to you republican friends. I likewise think you are a Democrat. In all cold hard honesty, my parents moved here because Elmhurst was predominatnly white (theyre polish), I inturn decided to purchase my own home, not only to stay close to them, but I truly love the community and the demographics. As for your wonderful melting pot democratic foodstamp utopia which you obviously want, go ahead and move to Chicago, embrace the CPS system and their taxes, and while youre there go ahead and enjoy shopping at all those wonderful stores with iron bars on the windows.
Duke of York January 24, 2012 at 10:14 PM
I am a life long Democrat and proud of it. Not to go too far off topic, but the country was doing great at the end of the Clinton ear when G-Dub took over and drove us over a cliff. Good luck with Willard and Newt, let me know how that works out for you in November. However, back to the topic at hand. Adam is a racist. Sammy, how would you describe the ranting of Adam and Court if not with a KKK reference? They both clearly long for the good old days when my grand parents first moved here and lived in a 99% white Elmhurst. I hope someone else chimes in and supports my position that this type of rhetoric is beyond the pale.
Sammy January 24, 2012 at 10:35 PM
I am new to this comment board. I grew tired of the one I had belonged to earlier. It was mostly used by users who had the same thing to say over and over and they tried to play the Democrat against the Republican game. Personally, I feel it is this constant bickering that got us in this economic mess. We can not move forward when tied up in knots, I hope that a day will come soon when Americans and here locally we can at least work together to achieve goals that are beneficial for the majority because with this constant bickering- we all lose. I do not see any positives happening with either political party right now, so maybe its time to start with a blank slate. So, to the person trying to draw me into a political who's best, been there and done that. I only wanted to say its refreshing to see something new happening here.
Jim Court January 25, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Duke of York, Every ethnic group that I know tends to congregate together. That is human nature. That is not racist. Every person has preferences and prejudices. You obviously are in favor of democrats and are prejudiced against republicans. That is your right. You shop selectively and drive certain types of cars. You do not just date anyone. I am so prejudiced that I have a long term and serious relationship with a wonderful Hispanic woman and am deeply involved with their family. If I have any preference it is for solid middle class values and lifestyle. I admire education. I like what Sammy said and always enjoy Tina's comments.
Darlene Heslop January 25, 2012 at 02:16 AM
that's 20 people - out of 43,000. i live next to greencastle of elmhurst - i can guarantee you that none of those residents are driving to trader joe's or whole foods. the building i live in is almost exclusively senior citizens - are they driving to trader joe's - ummm, no, they are not. our food pantries here in town have seen an incredible increase in the number of families seeking just the basics - are they driving to trader joe's? more kids are getting free or discounted meals in our school district than at any other time - are their parents driving to trader joe's? i can guarantee that the majority of residents of the surrounding communities aren't driving to trader joe's either, as the median income is considerably less than that of elmhurst. not to bust anyone's bubble, but the new reality in america is this - the fastest growing demographic are hispanics between the ages of 5 and 25 - these are the customers that weather you want to accept this or not, are the ones that will be shaping the market place in the next 10 years - they are becoming educated in ever larger numbers, have buying power and are influencing marketing decisions on everything from clothing and music, to housing. you can all chose to pretend that this segment of the population does not and will never be served by elmhurst, but i beg to differ.
Tina Tuszynski January 25, 2012 at 02:34 AM
I know there are a lot more that would support it. But that's why there's choices - there's already a Jewel and Dominicks in our town, and many low cost options near by. Caputo's is near, Pete's is opening up in Villa Park, and there's several lower cost produce stores nearby in Northlake, Bensenville, and Villa Park. There's nothing like Mariano's in Elmhurst or any adjacent burbs. Darlene, you should really check it out - I think you'd be surprised at the variety of options and price levels Mariano's offers. It's owned by Roundy's, who is a longstanding budget grocer from Wisconsin. The grocery items are reasonably priced like a Roundy's, but it offers luxury items as well. It combines both. And I, for one, am excited about the amount of jobs it will bring to Elmhurst - jobs that will help many of the unemployed residents you are talking about. Jobs in management, since Mariano's is one of the fastest growing companies in our area.
Darlene Heslop January 25, 2012 at 02:34 AM
tina, i have done considerable research on mariano's and its parent company, as well as trader joe's and whole foods, and i am taking a realistic view of the situation and am uncertain as to 2 things - #1: would this create a scenario in which it would be up to the residents of elmhurst to be able to solely support this entity on the long term, as opposed to multiple communities, as does a trader joe's or whole foods, and #2: what do we have to give up, such as tax incentives, tax breaks, refunds, etc., in order for this business to come here, and at what point (how many years in otherwords) will it take for us as a city to "break even"?
Tina Tuszynski January 25, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Also, every community that has gotten a Mariano's is supporting it, and people drive there from other burbs. Palatine and Vernon Hills aren't much different demographically than us. Westmont just opened the Standard Market, and it is quite upscale. Granted, they've got Hinsdale next door, but we've got Oakbrook.
Duke of York January 25, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Sammy ~ I wish we could have a constructive debate on issues that matter. Unfortunately, I can not let these ignorant comments go unchecked. Mr. Court you are a bigot. "Some of my best friends are hispanics", (but I sure don't want them opening up a store that would cater to the Hispanic community in my back yard). Your so called "human nature" theory highlights the lack of an education that you supposedly admire. My kids are in High School and their friends are black, white brown and yellow. They don't see color, period. Hopefully as old bigots like you die off society will begin to mirror this high school phenomenon. Additionally, I am supposedly prejudiced (what an irony in your choice of words) against Republicans because I don't believe in segregation. You are partially correct, I may choose to shop where I choose to shop, but I won't begrudge anyone from shopping in the store of their choice. Especially, Mr. Republican, if the free market economy supports it, Mr. Republican. God help us all if some of those Halal stores that are popping up along Roosevelt Road in Lombard and Villa Park start making their way into Elmhurst. What would you do and say then Mr. Court, "some of my best friends are terrorists"? America (and Dupage County) is getting browner and browner by the day with people moving here rom Asia, Asia Minor (thems be Arabs like President Obama) Africa, South and Central America and their isn't a darn thing you can do about.
Dan January 25, 2012 at 04:26 AM
This sounds even better then a Trader Jose'. It's good to hear that a successful entrepreneur is willing to make the investment in a new grocery store in town. Is there any information about the city striking a deal to entice them to locate here? If they did I would think that would be public information voted on by the Alderman etc.
Jim Court January 25, 2012 at 03:30 PM
As a person who believes in constant improvement, anything that elevates our community is something I applaud. I am sure that this retailer did research to warrant opening a store in our community. Tina is correct in stating that this will keep tax dollars in Elmhurst. It also makes a very positive statement about Elmhurst. Elmhurst does not wish to be filled with dollar stores, quick loans, pawn shops, and anything that is often affiliated with a different demographic. I am not saying that these types of businesses do not have a place in our society and fill a need. Elmhurst has established itself in a niche and rightfully continues to to support those elements that are consistent within that market. Aldi's is a great store and we have two of them nearby. One is in Addison and one in Northlake. This company chose these locations for a reason.
James Heartferd January 26, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Wow this is incredible, Darlene and Jim, you guys belong in the same room. Jim is like a flag,whichever the wind blows he goes. Darlene you just hate loosing an election and cannot come to grip that it is time to work together to make Elmhurst more productive. I just cannot believe that these discussions are hapenning in 2012. Someone should put this website on the comedy channel.
James Heartferd January 26, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Jim I know you missed Darlene, however I was also gone for a few weeks. Due to special business for our country, I was overseas doing stufffff.
Floyd January 26, 2012 at 03:53 AM
It's about time we had a good grocery store to shop at in Elmhurst. Competition is always good and maybe Dominick s and Jewel will get their act together to offer a better product. This is a win win for elmhurst and I am so glad that we have a mayor who cares about enhancing our upscale community.
Jim Court January 26, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Duke, You are right, I do not like narrow minded people who self righteously believe that their perspective is the only valid one. It is not about color. it is about social class. Not everyone is created equal. Deal in the real world, not at High School, and you will realize that. Yes, some of my best friend ARE Hispanics. I love one of them and enjoy her family. I managed large apartment complexes and related very well to many cultures. James, Because I do not have a consistent liberal or conservative view has nothing to do with "any way the wind blows. It is about discernment and flexibility in my thought process. You have a difficulty with ambiguity. A simple way of thinking that works for you. I am glad you were overseas. Why didn't you stay ? What wonderful thing were you doing for our country.? Pull this website? So much for democracy or freedom of speech. We already have a comedy channel. Your thoughts are a joke. How is that for certainty ! Please educate me. Where are my thoughts all over the place ? Be specific, please. Duke, the color of someones skin does not matter to me but the content of their character does. Floyd, you are an insightful person. Darlene and I disagree about much. I respect her right to think differently
Sammy January 26, 2012 at 05:01 AM
Jim, Try not to let these comments get to you, it is the way of the computer world to criticize via comment boards. If only those who utilize their time criticizing others would get off their *** and do something constructive during that time, it might be a different and more positive place. People with good hearts and good intent can see through negativity and meaningless commentary. Rise above the fray and pass them by. I just joined this message board even though a long time local resident. It is diappointing that even on a local board, a segment of users are the same as on the national AOL board, the segment that has little to add to society. Their words will remain as a reminder to their children and grandchildren what they were all about. Something to think about that. All of these comments will be read by people long after we are all gone.
Darlene Heslop January 26, 2012 at 06:05 AM
doesn't matter to me if i lost an election - i tried and failed, no biggie. making elmhurst work is my number 1 priority, including making sure that our elected officials see the "big picture" when it comes to making decisions and do so in a fair and ethical manner, and one that does not give everything away in incentives, tif's, etc. as far as i'm concerned, what mariano's will do is the following - it will create jobs for those that live in surrounding communities as these are going to be positions that do not require the "high level of education" that mr. court feels is the passport to living in elmhurst, however, ironically for mr. court, will bring the very types of people that he doesn't want into our community. i am concerned about long-term success, however, as our mayor gives incentives away like pez with no regard to the long-term cost, that is my main point - i don't want to have to wait 10 years to actually see monetary benefit. duke is correct - we have fortunately raised some terrific individuals who do not see ethnicity and are color blind. mr. heartferd, please consider running for office, as until you have actually had the priviledge of talking to residents and going out into the community, it gives you a much different perspective. i had a blast just meeting people, and actually consider that to be what i won in the election. i harbor no bitternes at all.
James Heartferd January 29, 2012 at 05:55 AM
Darlene, I am sorry, but everything that you have written on the patch has always, I repeat always been very negative. It sounds like a personal vendetta aginst people that are trying to make Elmhurst a better town to live in. Always attacking others with demeaning words. What have you done in Elmhurst that is good? NOTHING! Look at the comments made, "decisions made in a fair and ethical manner", bullcrap. "Positions that do not require the high level of education"? Ho yeah you people are very well educated. I am sorry that these comments can be viewed by outsiders, they must think Elmhurst is a town full of egotist people. I think I rather hang with people that have a low level of education but have some wisdom, these people work for a living rather then acting peevishly. Jim and Darlene both of your suffer from a variety of ideliasm called metaphysical solipsism, or maybe is it methodological solipsism, or maybe it's both? Jim I stick to what I said, you cannot be educated because you have a vacuous mind and sound like a bigot using Duke's words. I can see Karen Chandra sitting back with a martini laughing at all of these ridiculous postings. Sounds like a bunch of *%^#@#$%^. Here is to you Chandra.
Jim Court January 29, 2012 at 02:12 PM
James, If anyone should be accused of negative it would be you. Are you the behind the scenes attach dog for those with a vested interest in maintaining power. You are self righteous beyond belief. I never attack anyone, although I may openly disagree. I have never been accused of being a bigot although I admit a strong preference for upper and middle class values. I do not value pretension nor do I think that jerry Springer values are something I support. You speak of Darlene's negatives yet it is you who is always negative. People who offer ideas to improve the community should be seen in a positive light. You must have a very unsatisfactory life. So much hatred. Quit throwing your hissy fits. They get old.
Darlene Heslop January 30, 2012 at 01:17 AM
for once, i agree with mr. court. it's you that is negative, mr. heartfeld, not me. i have done a lot in this community, albeit, very quietly. i was the "right arm" to mr. diamond on the referenda for district 205, a youth commissioner for 5 1/2 years, a volunteer mentor in our school district for the last 7 1/2, the recording secretary for the hospital guild council for 5 years, and assisted w/adult religious education for 3 years, just to name a few of the things i have done to make this town a better place to live and raise a family, despite the fact that i myself have no children and have never been married. i am not an eliteist in any way, despite having multiple college degrees, i have a long-term ex who was hispanic, and i make certain that i understand what is going on in the world around me - i don't live in a bubble. i read the newspaper daily from cover to cover, crain's chicago business, and anything else that comes across my screen. i try to speak from knowledge, rather than speculation like so many others, as i prefer facts, numbers, like this one: roundy's is about to go public. how 'bout that...this is a very interesting development in light of the possibility of a mariano's coming to elmhurst.
Darlene Heslop January 30, 2012 at 01:27 AM
ps - i don't like hypocrites and there are many of them that are in positions of influence here in elmhurst, especially that are in charge of spending hard-earned tax-payer money. they are ethically challenged at times, including such things as taking a transfer tax refund when clearly not entitled, treating women like they are inferior, and calling out residents for exercizing their right to free speech.
Duke of York January 30, 2012 at 03:19 AM
Mr. Heartferd, when you were over seas were you "loosing" your dictionary? I was curious so I did a little research. There are no Heartferd households in Elmhurst, or Dupage County for that matter. Is it possible perhaps that you are close associate of Pension Pete or could you be Pension Pete himself?
Jim Court January 30, 2012 at 04:16 AM
That is a question that Karen from the Patch should know and I believe she does not favor those who hide behind anonymous postings. Karen......is Mr "Heartferd" a real name. In a spirit of transparency I would expect an honest answer. Thanks
Sammy January 30, 2012 at 04:50 AM
To everyone who has posted honest suggestions, constructive criticisms, and your thoughts on how to make this town and region a better place, my hat is off to you. I have a confession of my own to make, my shown name is an alias. I just registered to the comment board a week ago and am always careful about my privacy. But this I guarantee is the truth, I lived over twenty years in the town of Elmhurst and another twenty in a bordering village. I have seen some changes in the area that give me some concern and others that remind me that life is an ever changing place. I have fond memories of this town, a place where everyone knew each other and where we never locked our doors. It had a small town feel only twenty years ago. Its hard to see your boyhood home become a totally different place, where personal safety is a major concern and where next door neighbors don't even know each other. If this is progress, than count me as one who does look toward the past for ideas on how to improve the future. There is nothing wrong with maintaining a society that has set high standards for itself. (end of part 1)
Sammy January 30, 2012 at 04:51 AM
At the same time, even though political correctness has become a crutch for some, it still is important to have respect for people who do not look the same, talk the same or have the same outlooks as yourself. Words that have been used as weapons to hurt someone in the distant past should be only used with caution. My statement is directed at not one person in particular, I have enjoyed most of this dialogue. I do want to add that I think someone whom I will not name is having a good time being a funny guy- at least he probably thinks he is. I like to laugh and have a good time myself when the situation calls for, and I admit I may have cracked a smile at a couple posts but Mr Herdfart, some of it was over the top. Its not that funny to make fun of those trying to do some good. (the end)
Duke of York January 30, 2012 at 05:03 AM
Nicely said Sammy ~ both part 1 & 2
Karen Chadra (Editor) January 30, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Hi Jim. You are absolutely right. I don't like anonymous postings. At all. That said, I also do not have the actual names of people who register on Patch, only an email address. I do not know if Mr. Heartferd is a real name. I have a hunch ...
LizW February 09, 2012 at 01:04 PM
The city seems to have deleted the video of the 'State of Our City Address'.
Duke of York February 09, 2012 at 01:56 PM
I have no way to verify this, but rumor has it that Pension Pete's unethical and illegal campaigning for a seat on the County Board during the address caught the eye of the State's Attorney's office and it was strongly suggested that it be taken down.
Darlene Heslop February 09, 2012 at 08:16 PM
it's been taken off of the city's website for that exact reason, but my understanding it was at the suggestion of several aldermen.


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