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Mayor Morley: All Indications Are That Whole Foods Will Take Over Dominick's

Crime down, revenue up. Trying to mention all the good things happening in Elmhurst is like "trying to put 10 pounds of diamonds in a 5-pound bag," Morley said.

Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley delivers his first State of the City address Tuesday at Community Bank of Elmhurst. (Credit: Karen Chadra)
Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley delivers his first State of the City address Tuesday at Community Bank of Elmhurst. (Credit: Karen Chadra)

Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley delivered his first State of the City address bright and early Tuesday morning at Community Bank of Elmhurst. More than 100  residents, local dignitaries, legislators, officials and others turned out, despite temperatures dipping to -12 degrees in the morning.

Mayor Morley summarized the city's achievements over the past year, touching on Elmhurst's financial picture, economic development, crime reduction, flood remediation work and more. And, he did a darn good impression of former Mayor Tom Marcucci.

Over the past three years, at their State of the City addresses, sitting mayors have provided some big business news that gets citizens talking. In 2013, Interim Mayor Scott Levin announced Chick-fil-A was coming to Elmhurst. In 2012, Mayor Pete DiCianni confirmed the rumors that Mariano's Fresh Market would be setting up shop on the north end of town.

On Tuesday, Morley answered a question about the former Dominick's site.

"All indications are that Whole Foods is prepared to take over that property," he said. "There has not been an official announcement, but there may be within the week." 

The former Waverton Hotel, which closed for good last May, also is under contract, he said. It is not known yet what business will set up shop at the site on North York and Industrial Drive, across from Mariano's, but a developer has secured the rights to go out and negotiate for the property, Morley said.

So many good things have happened over the past year, talking about them all was like "trying to put 10 pounds of diamonds in a 5-pound bag," Morley said.

"2013 was a very good year for the city of Elmhurst," he said. "People, businesses and developers chose to invest in record numbers in the city, and the financials are better than they've been in over 10 years."

As far as the city's financial achievements, Morley noted:

  • The city's fund balances are healthy, with more than $15.5 million in the general fund, the highest in 10 years.
  • The city has nearly $1 million in working cash.
  • Standard and Poor's raised the city's bond rating from AA+ to AAA.
  • Electrical aggregation over the 16 months since it was launched in Elmhurst has saved residents $4.5 million.
  • Sales tax revenue has climbed from $5.8 million in 2009 to $8.16 million in 2013, a 40 percent increase.
  • The city has activated a plan to address a municipal pension funding gap and is on the road to funding pensions at 100 percent.
  • 2,626 construction permits were issued last year.
  • 115 permits for new homes were issued, a 21 percent increase from 2012.
  • Total construction dollars spent in 2013 was $85 million.

Crime rate also has been greatly reduced under Elmhurst Police Chief Michael Ruth's watch, Morley said, due in part to the increased visibility of the city's police force. Ruth has reactivated the Citizens Police Academy, and increased bike and foot patrols, Morley said.

"I actually got a complaint because (a resident) saw too many police at an event," Morley said. "I thought, 'Wow. If that's the biggest complaint I'm going to get today, that's OK.' "

He said robbery is down 73 percent, from 15 robberies in 2012 to four in 2013. Burglary is down 60 percent, from 145 in 2012 to 57 in 2013. Battery and several other crimes also have decreased in 2013, he said.

The fire department responded to 6,616 calls for service, an average of 18 calls per day. During flooding or other emergencies, those calls reach up to 170 calls per day.

Public Works planted 578 new trees, sanitary sewer work continues at the lift stations and with construction of the new Southwest Elmhurst Wet Weather Control Facility project, nine miles of roads were resurfaced, and the library and historical museum celebrated awards and exhibits that reached beyond the boundaries of Elmhurst.

He discussed the city's four tax increment financing districts. Three are set to expire in the next eight years and will providing millions of dollars to the rest of the city's taxing bodies, he said.

He touted the city's plan to build a six-story parking deck on Addison Avenue, stating "We're not only building for today, we're building for the future." And he drew applause when he announced the city's decision Monday night to pursue contract negotiations with Morningside Group to develop the Hahn Street property.

"As we look forward to 2014, there are two things I want to emphasize: redevelopment and infrastructure," he said. "The No. 1 infrastructure issue is battling current flooding issues."

Four times during his speech he referred to the plan put forth by the city last year to excavate various park and school properties in Elmhurst for stormwater detention.

"(We're) working with the Park and School Board on these projects," he said. "Since I've been mayor, we've worked through an educational process with the Park District and School Board. We can't answer enough questions as it relates to that. However, I do think it's time to move forward and put a shovel in the ground on these projects."

He said the city is working to prioritize three or four locations that will have the "greatest impact."

"That land is controlled by the parks and schools, and I can appreciate that," he said. "They are the stewards of that land. However, when it comes to a citywide problem like this, it's important to understand that … the land belongs to the citizens of Elmhurst. This isn't a school problem or a park problem or a city problem. This is everybody's problem. I'm asking everyone to pull together and work on behalf of the citizens of Elmhurst."

School Board members and Park commissioners continue to discuss the matter in their respective board meetings. The Park Board recently put forth a position statement on what it would like to see happen with respect to flood remediation. The city has not yet publicly responded.

The mayor's address will be aired on Comcast Channel 6 and on AT&T U-verse Channel 99 in February, and it can be viewed online via elmhursttv.org.

Doremus Jessup January 28, 2014 at 08:20 PM
Good news on Whole Foods. Good news on the reduction in crime. Some kudos go to the City and its departments, some go to a recovery in the economy.
traderchick January 28, 2014 at 08:27 PM
WFM coming to 60126 just made my day!
Greg Tomita January 28, 2014 at 10:36 PM
Great news about Whole Foods - congrats to all responsible! It is kind of sad to see in neighboring communities where conspicuous properties have been vacant for a long time...
Steve January 29, 2014 at 12:56 AM
Greg - I'd omit think anyone is responsible other than Whole Foods believing that this location and the Elmhurst area being able to support the business.
Steve January 29, 2014 at 12:57 AM
I don't think anyone...
Alli Ferguson January 29, 2014 at 09:14 AM
Can't wait to see what they do the Waverton. I hope Lowes! Kudos to Elmhurst for all the exciting things happening, I hope all the residents can embrace these great changes!
Mark C January 29, 2014 at 09:28 AM
Those are some impressive numbers. It's really nice to see that as the economy is getting some footing, that the money is being spent back into our community. A 40% increase in revenue from sales tax is remarkable. Great news about the crime rate, the general fund, pension fund, and the credit rating. Not a lot of cities can say the same thing. Thank you for all the hard work of those who serve our city.
ahmado January 29, 2014 at 09:58 AM
All the thing Mayor mention are great progress. Elmhurst is a great town to live, raise family etc etc
Senator Breckinridge January 29, 2014 at 10:48 AM
I wish Quigley and the geriatric guy would lose the cubs/cards schtick ... it's really so over done and SO not funny !
CheKeroauc January 29, 2014 at 11:27 AM
Lowes wouldn't be a good fit. Go to the Lowes at the Brickyard--it's a dump and doesn't offer anything different than Home Depot in Northlake. I'm glad to see we have some excess money but I'm afraid this administration will do what the last one did---spend it like a drunken sailor and leave us in debt when the economy turned south. They never learn that it's not a sin to have a strong rainy day fund.
johnj January 29, 2014 at 12:55 PM
just need a lifetime gym now... ;)
Dante Laudati January 29, 2014 at 01:55 PM
The Waverton property is just 4 acres with Mariano's owning the SW corner of York & Industrial where their employees park. This spot is too small for a Lowes and if they put up another bank they are nuts.
D L January 29, 2014 at 04:33 PM
I hope it's a small strip mall with a Yogurt shop, a hair and nail salon, a bank and a hamburger joint !!
Nancy Walker January 29, 2014 at 07:04 PM
Not Whole Foods!!! Mariano's is a high end store, why do we need another grocery store with high prices. Do you think the people from the apartments behind the old Dominick's are going to shop and afford Whole Foods price's. Take a look down the street, Walmart is always crowded with people. Cheap prices..get it!!!
Ginger tripp January 29, 2014 at 07:40 PM
Glad whole foods is coming. If you have celiac disease they carry gluten free products that other stores do not have
trdnnck January 29, 2014 at 08:31 PM
Seriously, we need a reasonably priced store like Aldi or something similar. Maybe those folks on fixed incomes or making minimum wage need somewhere reasonable? Could it (Whole Foods) be a status symbol for Elmhurst? Guess we have to keep up with the Jones such as Hinsdale?
Joe O'Malley January 29, 2014 at 09:57 PM
The Dominick's space has more sq ft than Whole Foods..it will be interesting dynamic especially with super duper walmart down the street.
Robin A. Doerr January 29, 2014 at 10:34 PM
Great news for Elmhurst and it is a great place to live and work!
Mark C January 30, 2014 at 09:58 AM
I think Whole Foods will be a nice addition at the old Dominick's location. I for one don't visit the store frequently, but I know multiple people from Elmhurst who drive to Hinsdale or River Forest to visit their locations. It's a bit more expensive but Ginger stated, they have options for people who need to avoid certain foods. I also think they have a great seafood selection. Regarding the Waverton I'm anxious to hear any news about what may go there, but just glad it was purchased and hopefully in the near future it will start generating sales tax for the city.
Mike Worrell February 02, 2014 at 10:52 PM
Very glad Whole Foods is coming to Elmhurst. If people want low prices there are already three Aldi stores very near to our town, the aforementioned Walmart in Villa Park, and two Jewel stores. We need the kind of sales tax revenues that can only come from a $9 gallon of milk.
Jim Court February 12, 2014 at 09:33 AM
Does anybody know what is going on with the Waverton property?

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