ELMHURST – Elmhurst alderman Michael Bram took another stand against a $6 million redevelopment agreement with Elmhurst Auto Group at the Nov. 20 Elmhurst City Council meeting, but in the end, his was the lone vote against the ordinance.
Elmhurst Auto Group, which includes the BMW, Jaguar and Toyota delearships in Elmhurst, had been informed by BMW of North America that the size of the existing dealership is inadequate to meet franchise standards, and without a significant expansion, the group's franchise would not be renewed, according to the agreement.
Elmhurst Auto Group plans to redevelop the property with an about 51,145-square-foot automobile sales and repair facility and related site improvements, the agreement stated.
Bram argued the $6 milion agreement was "too large of an incentive." He said he had concerns over whether the agreement met the city's tax increment financing assistance policy because he was unaware whether Elmhurst Auto Group was financially capable of handling the project themselves.
Despite Bram's arguments, the council passed the ordinance in a sweeping 12-1 vote. Alderman Michael Honquest, the chairman of the Development, Planning and Zoning Committee, was absent from the meeting.
Honquest said at the Nov. 6 City Council meeting that BMW of North America had recommended Elmhurst Auto Group, which sells BMW vehicles at its dealership at 466 W. Lake St., move out of Elmhurst to a larger site. The group wanted to stay here, so it approached the city for redevelopment assistance for expansion, he said.
Honquest said auto dealerships are important to Elmhurst because they bring in sales tax revenue and help keep taxes down. According to the commitee report, Elmhurst Auto Group is one of Elmhurst's largest sales tax-producing businesses with more than $1 million in sales tax each year.
The $6 million includes TIF-eligible project costs related to land acquisition, environmental testing and remeditation, demolition and more. Elmhurst Auto Group has been in Elmhurst since 1961.