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Elmhurst to grant zoning variations, but only for LA Fitness

ELMHURST – The Elmhurst City Council approved a report to provide zoning variations that will only apply if an LA Fitness and Starbucks replace the Waverton Hotel on York Street.

"It appeared there may be a different tenant going in other than the LA Fitness," said Scott Levin, Development, Planning and Zoning Committee chairman and Fifth Ward alderman .

Because of uncertainty about which tenants will rent a proposed fitness facility, the DPZ report stipulated the zoning variations would only apply if LA Fitness is the tenant.

Earlier in the meeting, finance committee chairman and Fourth Ward Alderman Kevin York pulled a report back to committee, calling for further discussion about recommending a $500,000 sales tax incentive for developer Paragon Elmhurst Center LLC.

That report named XSport Fitness as another possible fitness center tenant as well as a wireless telecommunications store and Sleepy's Mattress store as possible retail tenants.

A motion by Levin to amend the DPZ report further to also tie the conditional use permit for a drive-thru solely to a Starbucks was approved unanimously Monday.

"If they come back and say that it's going to be an XSport Fitness, they're going to ... repeat the whole process again," said Seventh Ward Alderman and committee member Mark Mulliner, who was acting as mayor pro tem since Mayor Steve Morley was absent Monday.

The DPZ report recommended granting requested variations to allow fewer parking spaces than required by the city for a physical fitness facility and more than the maximum total sign area permitted, but only for LA Fitness.

Paragon Elmhurst Center LLC proposed to build a 45,000-square-foot LA Fitness and a separate 8,000-square-foot retail building, which would house a Starbucks with a drive-thru and possibly a couple other service retail stores.

The proposed project would supply a total of 376 parking spaces, including 288 for LA Fitness, 32 for the retail building and the 56 spaces to be leased to nearby Mariano’s for employee parking.

City code requires 10 spaces per 1,000 square feet for a fitness facility. Paragon’s plan would supply 6.4 spaces per 1,000 square feet for LA Fitness based on the chain’s previous experience in the Chicago area.

"Different kinds of fitness facilities can have different parking requirements," Levin said.

He explained high density facilities filled with equipment would require more parking than an LA Fitness, which would include large spaces with relatively few people in them such as sports courts.

Park District Executive Director Jim Rogers, speaking during the public comment portion of the meeting, presented the district's concerns that the development may not be the best use of the property that falls in TIF IV. He questioned what the equalized assessed value of the project will be and whether it will de-value properties to the west of the site.

The council unanimously approved the DPZ report.

"I've heard from many residents that they're excited about the development going in at this location," Third Ward Alderman Michael Bram said.

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