ELMHURST – The Elmhurst City Council approved a report recommending city staff apply for a height variance and associated setbacks that would allow for the proposed Addison Avenue parking deck to be 65 feet and six stories.
"The ultimate goal here, to be perfectly frank, is to make sure that what we do is we raise more revenue in the business district than we do anywhere else," said Seventh Ward Alderman Mark Mulliner.
Other alderman in favor of the 65-foot building agreed more parking will promote growth in the city's central business district.
The Zoning and Planning Commission previously reccommended rejecting a six-story request by the project's developer, Addison Corridor Development I, LLC, but the developer pulled the proposal while the Development, Planning and Zoning Committee was reviewing it.
Following a parking study presentation at the last city council meeting, aldermen debated at Monday's city council meeting how soon and how much parking would be required.
Fifth Ward Alderman Scott Levin proposed amending the report to provide for a 55-foot structure.
"I would encourage people to consider this compromise position as something with which we can all live with," Levin said.
First Ward Alderman Diane Gutenkauf didn't see the 55-foot or five-story structure as a compromise. She pointed out that the parking study revealed a surplus of parking in the downtown currently and based parking predictions on the assumption that eight sites in the area will be redeveloped.
"What we really have is a parking management problem," Gutenkauf said.
This request does not include the second- and third-floor office space that the previous application did. Gutenkauf questioned the need to build six or five stories when the office space has been eliminated, asking what other development projects were in the works that she wasn't aware of that would warrant the increased parking.
Mulliner insisted no deals were being made behind closed doors.
"All you have to do is look around downtown and look at the vacant property, and that tells you where development can occur," Mulliner said.
Third Ward Alderman Michael Bram said he supported the need for the parking deck downtown, but not beyond four levels because the city currently has higher priorities like stormwater issues to fund. The extra money for each extra proposed level on the parking deck would be money that could be spent on other projects.
"I think today our greater responsibility is to be fiscally prudent," said First Ward Alderman Marti Deuter who supported a four-story building.
Other aldermen believed planning for the future and avoiding having to pay increased construction costs to add parking levels if necessary was more responsible.
Although, the council voted against the 55-foot deck, some aldermen suggested applying for the 65-foot variance didn't mean that the council couldn't decide to build a shorter building after the Zoning and Planning Commission completed its review. Others believed the council's decision should be more clear.
"We shouldn't waste the Zoning and Planning Commission's time if our true intention is not to move forward with the 65 feet," Bram said.