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Elmhurst shopping center asks city for $22,000

Published: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 2:33 p.m. CDT
First Ward alderman Diane Gutenkauf (second from right) on Monday opposes the Finance, Council Affairs and Administrative Services Committee's report recommending a cost-sharing agreement between the city and the Elmhurst Crossing Shopping Center owner. (Mari Grigaliunas - mgrigaliunas@shawmedia.com)

ELMHURST – The Elmhurst City Council voted 7 to 4 on Monday in favor of a cost-sharing agreement between the city and the owner of Elmhurst Crossing Shopping Center.

"It's important that Elmhurst remain a business friendly environment," said Kevin York, Finance, Council Affairs and Administrative Services committee chairman and Fourth Ward alderman.

Federal Construction, Inc., the shopping center owner, previously agreed to pay the city 10 percent of the rental revenue it receives from outlot developments like Chick-fil-A for a minimum of 10 years or as long as Federal owns the property and it's generating rental revenue.

The committee reviewed Federal's request that the city waive the first two years of payments, a total of $22,000, because the company spent about $250,000 to secure the outlot development.

"It was felt by the committee that if Federal had not given these renegotiated payments to their tenants, Federal would not have been able to bring in this tenant," said Bob Dunn, committee vice chairman and Second Ward alderman.

According to the report, Federal negotiated for three years three years with Chick-fil-A and seven existing tenants for development approval. Tenant leases either restricted new construction in the shopping center or required minimum parking beyond that required by city code.

"This is a $100,000 add to our budget," said York, considering sales tax, beverage and food tax, and the 10 percent of rent agreement.

Committee member and First Ward alderman Marti Deuter did not agree with her fellow committee members and did not sign the report.

"I believe we should limit our business development incentives, which in this case is an offset in city revenue, to businesses that have not yet committed to an Elmhurst location," Deuter said.

Fifth Ward alderman Chris Healy considered if Federal had made the same request before securing Chick-fil-A. He said he would have jumped at the opportunity to offer Federal the incentive to bring in that business.

"It's a matter of good business with a partner that's been good to us," Healy said of honoring Federal's request.

Diane Gutenkauf, First Ward alderman, compared Federal's request with the council's earlier decision to postpone voting on a pushcart food vendor license.

"Is this really about the longevity and the amount of time this business [Federal] has been here, or is it about power?" Gutenkauf said.

She asked why the council might be willing to give up $22,000 to Federal, but didn't vote on the issue concerning the Hot Dog Lady of Elmhurst, Pamela Uslander, after Uslander submitted a 1,000-signature petition of support.

"This just sickens me. I think it's ridiculous. I think we throw taxpayer money all over the place at stuff we shouldn't be funding, and clearly I'm upset and angry about it," Gutenkauf said.

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