ELMHURST – The city of Elmhurst and the Royal York Condominium Homeowners' Association have successfully reached a land swap agreement in which the city has attained an additional 3 acre feet for stormwater management and control in southwestern Elmhurst.
Through the exchange, which was authorized with the Elmhurst City Council's unanimous approval at its Sept. 4 meeting, Royal York gave a parcel of its property to the city in exchange for a portion of the Messiah Lutheran Church subdivision owned by Elmhurst that the city paid to improve with the addition of 60 surface parking lot spots.
This exchange was achieved after 100 percent of the Royal York unit and garage owners gave their consent, according to the ordinance.
Alderman Jim Kennedy, chairman of the Public Works and Buildings Committee, gave a brief report before the vote.
"There's a lot of work that happened between city staff, between folks at Royal York, legal groups and Chicago Title to get it to the point where we could make this land swap with the end result of having a better project overall for everyone involved and also provide about two more acre feet of storage," Kennedy said. "And we know that every drop of water we can put in that area is going to help more homes in southwest Elmhurst."
Mayor Steve Morley said after the vote that the project itself, the Southwest Elmhurst Stormwater Mitigation Project – Phase 1, already began, and the land swap was the last piece of it.
The effect of the project will be seen before the end of 2018, he said after the meeting.
Lauren Rieger, president of the homeowners' association, said in a phone interview Sept. 5 that talks between the city and the association started around early 2017. The city's original plan was to create a 28-foot-deep hole with a retaining wall around it on the city's parcel of the Messiah Lutheran Church subdivision, which would have been in front of a Royal York building.
After further discussions, the parties determined they could do the land swap instead. But they needed approval from 100 percent of the homeowners involved, she said.
To achieve approval from the homeowners of the 128 units in the association, board members and some homeowners went door to door, Rieger said. The association was able to achieve that, which, as far as she knows, is unprecedented.
"It was challenging," Rieger said.
She said, however, there was no problem convincing residents, and it was more of a matter of scheduling and reaching all of the homeowners.
"Based on the fact of this drawing and what this detention was going to look like, I believe, proved to every homeowner that they did not want to be looking out their balcony at a retaining wall, a hole," Rieger said.
In the finalized, agreed-to plan, the area is all green space except for the south end of Euclid Avenue and the complex, which will be retaining wall.
"It really is a win-win for everybody," Rieger said.
The closing of the land exchange is scheduled to take place at the offices of the Chicago Title Insurance Co., according to the ordinance.
Alderman Kevin York was absent from the Sept. 4 meeting.