Although it’s not the TIF funding originally requested to redevelop the former Pour Haus tavern in Belleville, about $2,600 in TIF money will be used to pay for a curb cut to improve access to the business that will reopen Saturday as Nanny Lou’s Kitchen.
The initial dispute over TIF funding prompted Dianne Rogge to put a sign in a window of the building saying, “No TIF for us, Tks B’vill” after she did not receive $15,000 in Tax Increment Financing funding. The city then sent her a letter saying she could be fined up to $500 a day for the sign for not getting a permit.
Rogge subsequently filed a federal lawsuit stating her First Amendment rights were violated and that the city denied the TIF request because she supported Phil Elmore for mayor in April 2013 when he ran against incumbent Mayor Mark Eckert, who said at the time that the Pour Haus request was handled like all others. In late 2013, the city settled out of court with Rogge for $30,000.
Now, newly-elected Ward 2 Alderman Mike Buettner plans to run Nanny Lou’s Kitchen at 1926 W. Main St. Buettner said Rogge, who is his girlfriend, is an investor in the new restaurant, which gets its name from Rogge’s childhood nickname given to her by her father. Buettner said the funding for the curb cut is the only aid the city is providing the restaurant.
Buettner declined to comment on the previous TIF dispute with the city, saying he wanted to move forward with creating a small business to help “stimulate growth” in the West Main Street neighborhood near Lindenwood University-Belleville and the state crime laboratory.
“I’ll be here running it,” Buettner said. “I hope people come by.”
He has hired one employee and would like to hire others.
The Belleville City Council on Monday approved using TIF 3 funds for the curb cut on South 20th Street. Buettner abstained from the otherwise unanimous vote.
Buettner, who lives about a block from the restaurant, said the menu will include soup, salad and daily specials. He described Nanny Lou’s as a coffee shop and deli.
It will initially be open only Saturdays and Sundays. He doesn’t have a website yet for Nanny Lou’s.
Buettner recently retired as director of court services and probation for the 20th Judicial Circuit Court in Belleville. He defeated Dorothy Meyer in April in the Ward 2 race.
City engineer Tim Gregowicz said the curb cut is needed for traffic safety on South 20th Street.
The out-of-court settlement with Rogge was reached in late 2013. It forbids the city and Rogge from discussing the details of the agreement, but the News-Democrat obtained a copy of it in early 2014 as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request. Eckert said he could not talk about the case because of the restrictions placed on the city in the out-of-court settlement.
As part of the out-of court settlement, the city agreed to revise its sign code to meet constitutional standards. In February 2014, the City Council changed the city’s sign code ordinance to say that political campaign signs and political message signs are exempt from needing permits.
In a TIF district, property values in the district are frozen at their current levels for a 23-year period, and any additional revenue generated by a rise in property values is channeled into a special city fund earmarked for infrastructure improvements and economic incentives in the district.