By Carol Kania Morency
City staff pitched ideas about how to solve safety issues related to a potential new downtown parking deck Monday night. Although they are working with a developer to build a deck in a now-vacant area near Second Street and Addison Avenue, aldermen were told Monday that they can still exercise more control over the final project.
The parcel is less than an acre and has been eyed by the city for a parking and retail development since 2004. In February, developer Addison Corridor LLC applied for a conditional use permit to build a six-story parking deck with about 20,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor and 30,000 square feet of office space on the second and third floors. Addison LLC was hoping to be able to eliminate the mandatory setbacks on the building, and went before Elmhurst's Zoning and Planning Commission to request variances.
The commission turned down this request in June, citing issues with getting in and out of the parking garage and potential pedestrian-vehicle accidents, and questioned the need for office space and additional parking. Addison LLC withdrew its variance request last month, but the city and the developer have until January to agree on a project.
Assistant Village Manager Mike Kopp told the council on Monday that while office space is available in the city, tenants are demanding Class A office space, which includes a certain amount of parking, infrastructure and amenities.
Kopp explained that if the commercial property in City Centre was used to its full potential, about 4,700 parking spaces would be needed. Currently the city has about 3,000 spaces, but 2,000 of them are reserved for commuters during the day.
As for the ZPC's safety concerns, Kopp explained that staff completed an analyses of sight distances and truck turning paths with a garage on the land and proposed ideas for resolving these issues with any new development. Staff looked at various combinations that included:
- making the alley parallel with Addison one-way only
- creating a protected sidewalk to keep pedestrians out of the alley
- forcing all deck ingress and egress onto Addison and making that street two-way for one city block
- making better use of Schiller Court as public space
Staff contemplated scenarios with angled parking spaces in the deck, or straight-in. Angled parking would allow the building to be slightly smaller; retail would be located just on Addison or on Addison and Schiller Court.
With any structure that might be constructed on the site, the council wants to use potential redevelopment to address the so-called “doughnut hole” to the south of the property, which is currently used for employee parking. Kopp showed a similar space in St. Charles that is used as a public space.
Kopp also presented options for reconfiguring Addison Avenue to allow for wider sidewalks and narrower drive lanes with parallel parking and a bike lane. This would result in safer parking and a better view down the street, but would result in a loss of parking space.
Because the city's standing committees also were meeting Monday, Mayor Steve Morley suggested aldermen review the information and submit questions to staff in preparation for a discussion at the council's next meeting Sept. 3.
Third Ward Alderman Michael Bram questioned how the city could be discussing the staff's presentation while the developer still had a project filed with the city. Mayor Steve Morley clarified that the city and Addison LLC are acting jointly in presenting the project but either one can take the lead.
Fifth Ward Alderman Scott Levin, who called for a meeting like this while he was acting mayor earlier this year, said the issues raised needed to be considered.
“The city as a partner can step into the driver's seat and decide how this project goes,” he said.
There is so much more to this story. Read related articles here:
- Letter: CAC Asking Mayor, Aldermen to Take Close Look at Addison Development
- Alderman Mark Mulliner Wants to 'Slow Down,' Rethink Addison Avenue Project
- Six-story Building on Addison Gets a Big 'No' From Elmhurst Zoning Commission
- Residents' Opinions of Downtown Six-story Structure Unchanged After Public Hearing
- Developers of Addison Project Tackle Residents' Concerns at Public Hearing
- Developer of Addison Project is Granted More Time to Prepare for Hearing on Building Height
- Hear Discussions from Closed Session Meetings on Addison Avenue Development Project
- Minutes and Tapes of Closed Sessions Regarding Addison Avenue Project Made Public
- Attorney General's Office: Aldermen Violated Open Meetings Act with Closed Talks About Addison Project