Quigley: A downtown dilemma
Like any community wanting to maintain the viability of its downtown, Elmhurst is facing a plethora of redevelopment issues in its Central Business District (CBD), also known as Elmhurst City Centre.
In 1986, the city of Elmhurst established its first tax increment financing district (TIF 1) in hopes of revitalizing a downtown that had no hopes of competing with the Oak Brook Shopping Center a short drive to the south, nearby Yorktown Mall to the west in Lombard and Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. And that’s not to mention the coming soon brand-name outlet malls with highway/tollway accessibility.
The cornerstone of downtown Elmhurst’s redevelopment was York Theatre, which over the past quarter century has been transformed from a single-screen, second-run movie house into a 10-screen cineplex offering Hollywood’s newest releases to thousands of moviegoers every day.
Still on the TIF 1 development docket is the Addison Redevelopment Project to build a six-story parking deck with first-floor retail space along Addison Avenue and down the Schiller Walkway.
Elmhurst’s Zoning and Planning Commission in June cited vehicular and pedestrian safety concerns in rejecting the developer’s requests for conditional use to exceed four stories in height and setback variances, but since then the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Elmhurst City Centre and Elmhurst Economic Development Commission have voiced their support to maximize public parking.
Six stories would make the parking deck downtown Elmhurst’s second tallest structure, but it would also provide up to 854 cost effective parking spaces to meet current business needs and service future redevelopments.
It is the city, not City Centre businesses, that is responsible for providing public parking downtown.
In 1927, the four-story Glos Building at 105 South York St. was razed to construct a five-story structure that stands tall to this day.
In “The Passage of A Landmark,” Frederick C. Harbour, a local resident, wrote, “A new building is about to rise on the old site. I have seen a picture of it. It is a beautiful structure, ornamental, architecturally beautiful, graceful, dignified, useful and necessary … that old building which has just been demolished, was the inspiration, and is the urge, the spirit, the soul, of the new.”
I would venture to say it took downtown Elmhurst to new heights, as should this parking deck.
John R. Quigley is president and CEO of the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce