Belleville OKs help for restaurant, microbrewery

News-DemocratFebruary 18, 2014 

— A new microbrewery and an existing Greek restaurant on West Main Street in Belleville will get tax assistance from the city for remodeling, but some aldermen said they only approve of the incentives for Main Street Brewing Co. and The Olympic Restaurant if there is more government oversight.

These aldermen want city staff to regularly check whether businesses fulfill their end of the bargain by creating jobs and meeting sale quotas.

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert said the city needs to focus on the advantages of the business assistance proposals.

"We're looking right now ... at an empty building," Eckert said of the proposed brewery at 4204 W. Main St. in a building that's been empty about eight years.

Todd Kennedy, of TJBC Inc., plans to remodel the former Amarillo Tex's Steakhouse & Saloon and open the microbrewery in May.

Ward 5 Alderman Joe Hayden said Tuesday that he supports the brewery venture, but the city has a history of not checking on businesses.

"A private business is a private business but when you accept public money, it's a different ball game," Hayden said.

Hayden pointed out, for instance, the brewery is expected to create 30 full-time equivalent jobs the first year and 20 the second year, but the agreement does not stipulate how long the brewery has to keep these employees.

The council voted unanimously to approve the assistance for the brewery.

The council then voted 9-5 to approve incentives for The Olympic. The aldermen who voted "no" did not make remarks specific to the restaurant.

Hayden, Ward 2 Alderowoman Melinda Hult, Ward 3 Alderman Kent Randle, Ward 6 Alderman Bob White and Alderwoman-at-large Lillian Schneider voted no.

Ward 1 Alderman Ken Kinsella and Ward 7 Alderman Trent Galetti were absent.

According to the business assistance application, Kennedy estimates the brewery to bring in annual sales subject to sales tax of $1.8 million.

He's asking for a rebate of 50 percent of incremental property taxes directly related to improvements for five years; abatement of sales tax on building materials for remodeling up to $22,275; and reimbursement of 20 percent each, up to $10,000, for each facade improvement.

In return, he has to invest no less than $490,000 in remodeling by June 1; create 30 jobs the first year and 20 the second year; meet the sales quota and stay at the site for 10 years.

Dax Gitcho agreed to remodel and improve the facade of 4508 W. Main St., site of The Olympic Restaurant, by July 31.

Gitcho also has to invest no less than$150,000 in remodeling;bring in a projected $576,000 in sales subject to sales tax per year; retain 25 full-time equivalent jobs; create one FTE job the first year and one the second year; and stay at the location for five years.

Gitcho's asking for: reimbursement of up to $10,000 in tax increment financing eligible remodeling expenses; abatement of sales tax on building materials for remodeling up to $6,075; and reimbursement of 20 percent each, up to $10,000, for improvements to two facades.

Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at jlee@bnd.com or 618-239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BNDJLee.

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