ELMHURST – The Hahn Street redevelopment project will move forward to Elmhurst’s Development, Planning and Zoning Committee with a recommendation for approval from the Zoning and Planning Commission.
“There’s an enormous amount of interest that’s been shown obviously over time in this project. There’s an enormous amount of information that has been presented,” commission Chairman Darrell Whistler said at the start of the meeting Oct. 9.
He continued to say he didn’t want the commission to rehash information they have all had plenty of time to review, but instead, only address concerns that haven’t yet been answered.
The commission then went through each variance request in the application one by one, discussing any questions or objections they had.
The Elmhurst City Council selected Morningside Group to develop the property, which the city owns in downtown Elmhurst, just south of Panera on York Street.
The development, called North District, will include 192 luxury apartments, 12,000 square feet of retail space, 153 public parking spaces, 335 residential parking spaces and a civic plaza.
In order to construct the development, Morningside Hahn LLC requested a conditional-use permit for building height as well as several variances, including density, dwelling units below the second floor, the number of retail parking spaces required, the number of residential parking spaces required, 26 tandem parking spaces in the residential parking area, sign area, and height and area of temporary development signs.
While the City Council chose Morningside’s North District plan from several others submitted through a request for proposal process, Whistler told the commission they should proceed as they do with any zoning requests.
“That doesn’t mean it’s preapproved or anything,” Whistler said.
The commission moved through the majority of variation requests easily after clarifying a few points here or there. They did place a 24-month restriction on the temporary leasing banner the developer requested to hang on the building during the initial leasing period.
Lastly, the commission discussed the request for a conditional-use permit to build above four stories.
“I did have an issue with the height, but I had an issue with the height with the six-story parking lot,” commissioner Dan Corrado said.
He added he saw six-story developments as a growing trend. He said the commission will have to start looking at taller buildings, increased density and lower parking requirements to strengthen economic development in downtown Elmhurst.
“I think what we’re all going to have to start wrapping our minds around is the fact that this is the trend,” Corrado said. “This is where we’re going, whether you like it or not.”
Elmhurst Planning and Zoning Administrator Than Werner said in this case, the city saw presentations from other developers saying increased density was necessary for the project’s viability. Restricting it to four stories, the developers explained, would make the project more costly because it would not generate enough profit to be viable.
Whistler said the commission may need to revisit the comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance to update it with new visions for the city.
“If you keep referring back to years and years ago with what the vision was at that time, you kind of miss the opportunity to look forward; you’re always looking backwards,” he said.
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How they voted
Ayes: Tom Torcasso, Frank Mushow, Susan McCoyd, Jordan Uditsky, Dan Corrado, Lisa Callaway, Susan Rose and Darrell Whistler
Absent: Kurt Warnke