UPDATED: How High do You Want Your Downtown Buildings?

Aldermen and neighbors get the word out about what could be a precedent-setting decision.


A controversial building request is coming before the Elmhurst Zoning and Planning Commission for a hearing at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 24.

Arco Murray/Addison Corridor LLC is asking the city for permission to build a six-story structure at 135-149 N. Addison St. that will house retail and office space, as well as parking.

Part of the controversy lies in the fact that the city's zoning code only permits four-story structures in the downtown area, and many, including some aldermen, believe six stories would be an eyesore and set a precedent for other buildings downtown. Residents on nearby Larch Avenue are sending out emails and posting notices on doors encouraging as many people to show up at the public hearing as possible.

Also controversial is the method by which the developer has been doing business with the city, aldermen say. First Ward Aldermen Diane Gutenkauf sent out a press release earlier this month stating she voted against a contract extension between the city and Arco Murray/Addison LLC because the "project has been discussed behind closed doors since Day 1, and I cannot support the approval of details that have been kept from the public eye."

Gutenkauf, who officially kicked off her campaign for Elmhurst mayor last month, went on to say that residents have a right to know how the council is spending their money.

First Ward Alderman Paula Pezza, who has decided not to run for re-election in April, has echoed Gutenkauf's comments about a lack of transparency. She posted on her Facebook page Dec. 29:

"Don't say you didn't know after it's been built with YOUR TAX DOLLARS!"

She encouraged everyone to show up at Thursday's public hearing.

"If you care about how our lovely downtown looks and feels, this is your chance to speak up. If you don't show, it is assumed by many that you approve of the proposal."

Discussion about the height of the structure began more than a year ago with Arco Murray, which also built the parking deck on Larch Avenue in 2010.

The city purchased the property for $4.5 million, and three buildings were torn down on the site, including the former Athar Restaurant. Phase I design work began on the property last summer. Cost for utility relocation for ComEd and AT&T has been about $170,000, and Comcast has yet to provide its utility relocation cost.

The developer is proposing a 68-foot structure; current code allows for 45 feet. Design costs for the taller structure are estimated at $428,000, and for the shorter structure, about $365,000, according to a memo from the Public Works and Buildings Committee to the City Council dated June 25.

Thursday's public hearing, which will be held at City Hall, is the first step toward approval. The matter will then go before the city's Development, Planning and Zoning Committee, then to the full City Council for a vote.

B Rush January 25, 2013 at 03:54 PM
if you watch the recent meetings there is five on a private agenda morley, healy, wagner, york, hipskind morley is a dicianni clone just watch how much like dicianni morley is glad pension pete is out
Jim Timmons January 25, 2013 at 04:00 PM
No, Susan, NIMBY can be about any issue where it's OK when it happens elsewhere, but if it happens close to you, it's a problem. Not In My Back Yard. So, while buildings taller than 6 stories are OK in other parts of downtown Elmhurst, they aren't OK when they get too close to Larch? Now, maybe because social media wasn't around when they were built, but I certainly don't recall any localized public outcry over the other buildings that exceed 6 stories already in Elmhurst.
The Ghost of Abe Lincoln January 25, 2013 at 04:09 PM
Bobby, I have watched all of the recent meetings. Can you please cite a specific example? Heck, Wagner wasn't even at the last meeting, and Hipskind, Morley and York didn't say anything. Or, could it be that you are a political hack aligned with Mulliner and to keep the conversation away from Mulliner's lack of a record after 12 years on the council, you are throwing stones at those who are trying to make a positive difference in town? Perhaps you are best sticking to Cook County and the politics played there and organizing your Black Panther parties. If you are going to use a fake name, at least come up with something good.
B Rush January 25, 2013 at 08:17 PM
ghost i live in ward 5 i never met mulliner but i do think from what i read he his good ideas as for cook county i lives here for over 15 years and my name is rush so what do you want me to sign in as at least i use my name and not some goofoff thing like you
Gerry F January 25, 2013 at 08:49 PM
MJ - can you provide specifics as to the sweet deals that were tied to "big campaign bucks". Lets keep claims like this fact based and not speculate. Please share the facts so that all of the residents of Elmhurst can make an informed decision at that ballot box


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