A general contractor’s report sent to Belleville aldermen last week states some subcontractors on the Hofbräuhaus restaurant project had pulled off the site “due to their payment status and unanswered questions” but a spokesman for the developers said Friday that “payments have been made and are being made” and construction is continuing.
Construction began late last year on the German-themed restaurant late last year off Illinois 15 across from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.
The city committed to spend over $2 million to extend sewer lines to the site and the City Council last year approved tax incentives worth about $38 million for the Hofbräuhaus and hotel portion of the project and for an 11-field soccer complex proposed by a Kansas City firm. Developers had valued the entire complex at over $100 million.
Work is continuing every day. The project is definitely going to be finished. The project is the largest of the Hofbräuhaus projects in North America.
Ron O’Connor, spokesman for Hofbrauhaus developers
But City Clerk Dallas Cook said the Aug. 12 report about the Hofbräuhaus subcontractors raised concerns for Belleville residents who are helping to fund the project with the sewer line work.
“It would be less of a concern if not for the fact that everything else that they have promised has not come to fruition,” Cook said.
“We’ve been promised multiple hotels, multiple restaurants and we have nothing. We have nothing except for a concern that now is the Hofbräuhaus even going to be completed because we don’t know the status of the finances.”
Ron O’Connor, of the PR firm O’Connor and Partners Inc., said this week he now is representing the Hofbräuhaus developers, the Keller family of Effingham. He said he could not give an exact date when the Hofbräuhaus will open but said the Kellers are committed to opening the restaurant.
O’Connor said he was briefed by Chane Keller, one of the developers, and Impact Strategies, the general contractor for the Hofbräuhaus, when asked about Impact Strategies’ Aug. 12 construction update report sent to Belleville aldermen.
Mayor Mark Eckert declined to comment other than to say that work on the project is continuing. He referred questions to O’Connor.
O’Connor said there are “too many moving parts” in the construction process for the developers to announce the completion date of the Hofbräuhaus .
Last year, the Kellers said the target date to open the Hofbräuhaus was June 1. The developers later changed the opening to November.
“Work is continuing every day,” O’Connor said. “The project is definitely going to be finished. The project is the largest of the Hofbräuhaus projects in North America.”
We’ve been promised multiple hotels, multiple restaurants and we have nothing. We have nothing except for a concern that now is the Hofbräuhaus even going to be completed because we don’t know the status of the finances.
City Clerk Dallas Cook
He said the Belleville Hofbräuhaus will be 31,000-square-feet and large enough to host 1,000 people while one is Chicago is 20,000 square feet.
O’Connor also said the project needed some design changes that caused delays.
“This required some recalculations and redesign of some interior areas,” O’Connor said. “There was a slow down while those changes were being made. Those changes have now been made and the project is proceeding.”
Ward 2 Alderman Mike Buettner, who voted against the tax incentives last year, said he’s concerned about the pace of construction.
When he voted against the TIF plan for the Hofbräuhaus in May 2015, Buettner said he was concerned that the city would be asked to issue bonds to keep the project moving forward. He reiterated his position on Friday.
“This is a house of cards that’s starting to fall,” Buettner said. He said if the developers want the city to “bail them” out, he will fight any request from the Kellers.
O’Connor also addressed the following issues:
▪ The Kellers do not have an announcement on hotels. They have said three to four hotels, several restaurants and a convention center could be built on the site and in March they abruptly had to cancel a news conference they had organized to announce the name of a hotel planned for the site.
▪ Work on the Hofbräuhaus roof will resume next week, weather permitting.
▪ The Keller family broke ground this week in Jonesboro, Arkansas, for a Hyatt Place Hotel and convention center but O’Connor said that project is not causing any delay on the Belleville project.
▪ Talks with Kansas City-based Game On Sports Development are expected to resume in two weeks. Last year, the company had announced plans to build a multisports complex worth $12 million to $13 million next to the Hofbräuhaus but construction of the complex never started and David Thorman of Game On Sports Development died last month.
Before his death, Thorman had been in talks with O’Fallon officials about finding a partner or partners to install AstroTurf and lights on at least 10 of the Family Sports Park soccer fields in O’Fallon.
O’Fallon City Administrator Walter Denton said he had nothing new to report on Friday on whether Game On Sports Development will open a soccer complex in O’Fallon.
▪ A team from Munich, Germany, will travel to Belleville to install the brewing equipment and then will spend a month training local employees on how to brew the Hofbräuhaus beers. The Kellers obtained a Hofbräuhaus franchise that is exclusive for a 100-mile radius around Belleville. The original Hofbräuhaus opened more than 400 years ago in Munich.
O’Connor, who previously represented the Casino Queen, acknowledged concerns about the length of the construction.
“They would not have hired me to do the pre-opening planning and the opening planning and execution if they weren’t absolutely confident they were going to open it,” O’Connor said of the Keller family.
Cook, who opposed the tax incentives granted for the project, said Belleville residents should be given more information about the finances of the developers.
“It sounds like a whole lot of excuses and no answers,” Cook said. “I think the people deserve to know that’s why I’m getting a little aggravated with the situation because I had those concerns in the beginning and it’s seemingly they were rightful concerns.”
Mark Hodapp of the O’Fallon Progress contributed information for this article.