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Alderman calls six-story parking deck vote 'one of the biggest decisions'

Published: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 12:19 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 11:24 a.m. CDT
(Mark Busch - mbusch@shawmedia.com)
The empty lot (left) on Addison Avenue, just south of 2nd Street, in downtown Elmhurst is the site of a proposed six-story parking deck.

ELMHURST – More than five years after the city began considering the Addison Parking Deck project, the City Council voted Monday for a six-story building.

"This is one of the biggest decisions that we're going to have to make at this council level for a long time," said Mark Mulliner, Seventh Ward alderman and Development, Planning and Zoning Committee member.

While the DPZ Committee submitted a majority report signed by Mulliner and committee chairman Scott Levin for six stories, committee vice chairman Dannee Polomsky also submitted a minority report supporting a five-story structure.

"I would contend that six stories is too high up to park in our community," Polomsky said.

She made her case that the 575 parking spaces supplied by a five-story garage with first floor retail would nearly meet the 612-space deficit projected by a city-hired consultant. Polomsky called the consultant's parking ration "generous," and pointed out the city's downtown plan uses a smaller ratio, which predicts the need for 556 spots.

"I think there's enough evidence that was presented to justify a 65-foot structure. I just think now looking at it more carefully, the 55-foot structure is more appropriate," said Levin, who signed the majority report, but supported the five-story option.

He also pointed to the parking study, which assumes about a third of future development will be restaurants or entertainment venues. These uses require the highest parking ratios.

Levin said, currently, downtown Elmhurst's occupied storefronts is less than 15 percent restaurant and entertainment businesses.

"Five or six [stories], we're going to accomplish a lot of what we want to do," Fifth Ward Alderman Chris Healy said of providing more parking downtown.

Opinions seemed split on the council between a five- and six-story building. Most seemed to agree that businesses would not change their minds about coming to Elmhurst based on the one-story difference, but Second Ward Alderman Norman Leader disagreed.

"This is less about build it and they will come, and more about don't build it and they will leave," Leader said, supporting the six-story structure.

Polomsky's motion to substitute the minority report for the majority report failed with an 8 to 6 vote.

With the five-story option off the table, the council split on a six-story garage was much clearer.

A motion by Third Ward Alderman Michael Bram to amend the majority report to support a 45-foot or four-story building also failed with an 11 to 3 vote.

"The only things we're compromising tonight are the taxpayers," said First Ward Alderman Diane Gutenkauf, who is in favor of the four-story option.

A final vote approving the six-story report passed 11 to 3.

"In the end one group is going to be right and one group is going to be wrong ... we're not going to get that answer for probably 10 or 20 years," said Sixth Ward Alderman Jim Kennedy, who favored six stories.

– – – –

How they voted

After eliminating four- and five-story options for the Addison Parking Deck, the City Council took a final vote on the six-story structure.

Ayes: Bob Dunn, Norman Leader, Dannee Polomsky, Stephen Hipskind, Kevin York, Scott Levin, Chris Healy, Michael Honquest, Jim Kennedy, Mark Mulliner, Patrick Wagner

Nays: Diane Gutenkauf, Marti Deuter, Michael Bram

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