Let’s begin with the premise that all of us are against overdevelopment. Or – in the case of Elmhurst and other such land-locked municipalities – over-redevelopment.
Now comes the hard part: What exactly constitutes overdevelopment?
For some, it is the widening of a residential, tree-lined, two-lane avenue into a four-lane roadway with bumper-to-bumper traffic.
For others, it is the razing of a quaint two-bedroom, one-bath ranch home with a one-car detached garage to make way for a three-story McMansion with four bedrooms, five baths and attached multicar garage.
For others, it is the demolishing of the single-story commercial building to allow for construction of a multistoried municipal parking garage within a mixed-use structure featuring first-floor retail and upper-story office or residential components.
Maybe it’s as basic as “not another.” Not another teardown. Not another restaurant. Not another bank. Not another salon.
Many property taxpayers expose expert opinions on what their city needs, to attract and get rid of, especially when it happens to concern another taxpayer’s property.
In Elmhurst, the landscape is different than in 1955 when an-expectant-with-me Florence Quigley moved her other six children from a westside Chicago three-flat to a two-story brick home on Washington Street southwest of the St. Charles Road and York Street intersection.
The noisy freight trains making regular stops at the south end of my block to restock Hammerschmidt & Franzen Lumber Yard and People’s Gas and Coal are but distant memories, succeeded by the cyclists, joggers and dog walkers that traverse the Illinois Prairie Path to exercise and commune with nature.
My childhood home, bought new for $25,000, last sold for 20 times that amount only to become a teardown and buildup. Hindsight says I should have bought it from my siblings for $80,000 after my mother’s passing in the early 1980s, but mortgage interest rates of 18 percent sent me packing for an apartment.
Elmhurst’s look has changed greatly from August 1987, when I paid the earnest money to buy a Van Auken ranch home on the morning of citywide flooding. My in-laws, living near Salt Creek, flooded. My new home, on high ground, stayed dry.
Redevelopment brings change. And like death and taxes, change is constant and inevitable.
John Quigley is president of the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce and Industry