Elmhurst aldermen held off on a vote to send a proposal for a six-story parking garage to the Zoning and Planning Commission after listening to a parking analysis of the downtown business district Monday.
Aldermen wanted additional time digest the report, and to have the full council present for the vote. Aldermen Pat Wagner, Jim Kennedy and Mark Mulliner were absent Monday night.
Consultants from Houseal Lavigne and Gewalt Hamilton engineers told aldermen that 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. The group looked at eight potential redevelopment sites downtown, along with existing parking, reasonable walking distances and other factors in drafting the report. Private parking included in any residential development was not considered.
Tim Doron of Gewalt Hamilton said Elmhurst's downtown is "very active" with ample parking, and successful growth will depend on additional parking in the future. The eight potential development areas studied include a combination of office space, restaurants and entertainment venues:
- Site 1 (195-197 Addison): restaurant/bar, 12,000 square feet
- Site 2 (168 Addison/145 Second Street): 12,000 sf retail, 12,000 sf offices
- Site 3 (municipal lot west side of Addison): 15,000 sf restaurant/bar, 15,000 sf office
- Site 4 (135-149 Addison): proposed parking garage, 17,500 sf retail
- Site 5 (109 W. Schiller Court): 6,000 sf second-floor entertainment venue
- Site 6 (130-134 N. York): 19,000 sf restaurant
- Site 7 (100 Addison): 32,000 sf retail
- Site 8 (105 Cottage Hill): 20,000 sf retail, 20,000 sf second-floor medical office
Currently, Elmhurst's 2,033 parking spots are 73 percent occupied from 1 to 2 p.m., which is the busiest time downtown. But if the downtown was fully developed, consultants predict an overall deficit of 408 parking spaces during that time period, and a deficit of 612 parking spaces in the zone that includes the proposed Addison garage.
A five-floor parking deck would leave a 100-car deficit in the study area, six floors would meet the need, Doron told the council.
But the report doesn't take into consideration a time frame for development, 1st Ward Alderman Diane Gutenkauf said.
"We found that building parking decks provided adequate parking for nine and 12 years, at which time we added additional parking," she said, referring to the Adelaide and Schiller decks. "This is a really critical part of the conversation. We need to be very clear that your deficit only occurs if every one of those purple blocks is developed. Today, we have a surplus of 134 spaces in Zone B."
Dan Gardner of Houseal Lavigne, said there is really no way to predict a time frame for build-out of the downtown, as that would depend on market dynamics.
"The assumption is that they will be developed at some point in time," he said.
Adding on to the garage later is not desirable, he said.
"The disruption factor to businesses is not pretty," he said.
Fifth Ward Alderman Scott Levin said he wasn't too concerned about the time frame, but he wondered how consultants came up with development assumptions. Gardner said their analysis is "fairly conservative," based on industry standards that indicate about 36 percent of the properties would be restaurants, among other factors.
Third Ward Alderman Michael Bram said this was the first time he'd seen the map consultants used to draw their conclusions.
"Who selected these sites? This is the first time I've seen what we would like to be developed. This is enlightening to me," he said.
He said proposed development is something the council "struggles with all the time" and the time frame could be longer than 20 years for build-out.
Third Ward Alderman Dannee Polomsky said assumptions are needed to make decisions.
"If we don't have additional parking, these areas will not be developed," she said. "We need to look at what could happen and what we can do to see some growth and redevelopment in the downtown. This study will be helpful in our decision."
Doron said he sympathized with aldermen, having to "put all into a big cement mixer and try to come up with the right number."
The council on Monday did send to the Zoning Commission a proposal to waive a requirement that the Addison project have a loading dock for its proposed first-floor retail businesses. Gutenkauf reiterated that she believes that is a mistake aldermen would regret.
As for six stories, that proposal will be discussed again at the next council meeting Oct. 21.