With new restaurants seemingly popping up every other month in downtown Glen Ellyn, and a new conceptual plan for multiple dining options in the old Geische Shoe store, a parking crunch has been on the minds of businesses owners and residents alike. Thankfully, the village board met last night to discuss new parking options, and potentially a new parking garage at one of three sites downtown.
Katlyn Smith of the Daily Herald goes into great detail in her story on the situation, so you should give that a read to get all of the finer points. The article covers the main topics related to how the village could address parking, mainly how to fund a new garage, and where to build it.
There are three locations being looked at as potential sites:
- The parking lot on Main Street next to the old Geische Shoe store.
- The parking lot behind the Civic Center.
- The parking lot between the train tracks and Crescent Blvd. just south of the former McChesney & Miller.
All three sites range in both cost and the amount of new parking spaces they’d create. After considering cost and functionality, the other main factor is how will this new massive parking garage look in its new space?
From what I can see, the lot just south of the old McChesney & Miller would be the best combination of form and function, as the elevation goes up considerably towards Barones, which would mask the overall height of the structure and that site is hidden from view to the south by vegetation. It also happens to be the site that would provide the most additional parking–but at the highest potential cost.
The lot behind the Civic Center would be the least obtrusive aesthetically, at just two levels and tucked away behind other buildings, but it also would add the least amount of parking, and I’m not sure how the feasibility of getting in and out would work. While the Main Street lot may make the most sense from a location perspective, the look of a four-level deck here would stick out like a sore thumb. On the other hand, the Crescent Blvd. site would provide two easy options to the east and west for getting in and out of the lot and clearly seems like the best option, given the information we have.
Looking purely at the raw numbers, the lot behind the Civic Center would add up to 16 spaces per $1 million spent, the lot on Main would add up to 23 spaces per $1 million, and the lot on Crescent would add up to 27 spots for every $1 million spent.
In my opinion, go big or go home in this case. But that’s easier said than done when the sticker price could reach $13 million. So how would the village potential fund this garage? Unfortunately the first option mentioned in the article is a new food and beverage tax. Other options include issuing bonds to raise money, increasing parking permit fees, increasing the home-rule sales tax (had to look that one up) and taking funds from “special taxing districts.”
A potential road-block for the Crescent Boulevard location is that two years ago Springbank Real Estate group put together a concept for the village on the same site that included two apartment buildings, space on the ground floor for retailers, and a 120-foot clock tower. While a 350 space parking garage would be nice, a project with a 120-foot clock tower as the cherry on top wins out in my book.
This is the description of the project, “Still in the conceptual stage, proposed is a mixed-use transit oriented development along both sides of Crescent Blvd. The development includes 45 Condominiums, 120 apartments, and over 65,000 SF of commercial space. The proposal also includes approximately 500 parking spaces.”
If this project moved from the conceptual stage into the “it’s happening” stage, it would be a big-time win for Glen Ellyn. Just as long as they remember to include the clock tower, which is conspicuously absent from that description. 500 parking spaces is greater than 350, so hopefully Springbank steps up to the plate and this project takes off. According to the Daily Herald article, Springbank has put together a new project team and have met with Village Manager Mark Franz a couple of times in the past month, but according to Franz “We’ve seen very preliminary design concepts…but no real specific plans to report on yet.”
If the location of a new parking garage was down to the lot behind the Civic Center and the lot on Main, I think I would have to side with the Civic Center lot. A four-level structure right in the middle of downtown just doesn’t fit the overall look and feel of Glen Ellyn. Unfortunately the potential cost is nearly the same for both, with less spaces per dollar spent at the Civic Center location, so there are arguments to be made on both sides.
Hopefully the village board will continue to keep this a top priority and move forward with a plan as additional parking would be welcomed with open arms by residents, commuters, and downtown dining enthusiasts. Not to mention building a parking garage has an “if you build it, they will come” effect on attracting new businesses. This first meeting was a good start, now the board needs to keep the ball rolling.
Here’s the official press release from the Village of Glen Ellyn: