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Parking study suggests 7-story structure needed in downtown Elmhurst

ELMHURST – The City Council requested one variation for the proposed Addison Parking Deck and tabled another after hearing the results of a central business district parking study.

The parking study used industry standards to predict the future demand for parking once eight city-identified sites – which did not include the proposed Hahn Street luxury rental redevelopment – are developed.

The parking study conducted by Houseal and Lavigne and Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc., concluded that a six-story building, assuming the first floor is used completely for retail, would satisfy the projected demand once all development is completed for the total area studied, which was just slightly larger than the central business district as defined by the zoning code.

"This is based on some general assumptions with no magic ball that tells us when this is going to happen," said First Ward Alderman Diane Gutenkauf.

The study also considered the natural dividing lines and assumed that 85 percent of available parking often isn't used because of weather or parkers not wanting to circle in search of parking. The industry standard is known as effective supply and requires an increase of 15 percent additional supplied parking.

When considering the 15 percent effectiveness factor, the study suggested six floors of parking would be required to satisfy the business district's projected parking needs, ultimately meaning a seven-story building. Fifth Ward Alderman Chris Healy wondered if the parking need could be met by a smaller parking deck if future development sites added parking as well.

"Any additional parking that we would propose as part of that site could theoretically take parking off the proposed six-story [parking] deck and developments would still work," Healy said.

The study also divided the area into four naturally divided zones and considered the parking requirements for each zone based on the walking distance from available parking in that zone.

Some aldermen questioned how the Schiller parking deck could easily be utilized by parkers looking to visit destinations on the other side York Street, but the study used the main street to divide zones.

"During our peak hour, it's extremely well utilized. It would be upwards of 91 percent even," said transportation engineer Kelly Conolly of Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. explaining that from 1 to 2 p.m. the Schiller deck is nearly full.

The study also assumed about 36 percent of development would be restaurants and the other 64 percent would be retail in each of the four zones and parking would be provided off-site. Shared parking that would be used by commuters or for office space would be available in the evening for diners and shoppers, but the impact of currently vacant office space and residential parking were not considered in the study.

"In order to [privately redevelop downtown], obviously you need the parking," said Third Ward Alderman Michael Bram explaining that even if completed redevelopment takes 10 or 20 years, parking would draw private businesses to the area.

Following the presentation, the council voted 9 to 2 to request a variation to exempt the Addison Parking Deck from the loading birth required by the current zoning code.

"By going to the zoning commission with the request that we not have any capacity for off-street deliveries in this building is a serious planning mistake that we will regret," Gutenkauf said.

Aldermen Scott Levin, Dannee Polomsky and Bob Dunn then deferred the vote on a Committee of the Whole report requesting a variance that would allow the Addison Parking Deck to be 65 feet tall until the next city council meeting Oct. 21.

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