Two years ago, Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert began talks with the Keller family of Effingham to put together a deal to bring an upscale hotel to the city.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the City Council is scheduled to vote on a Tax Increment Financing district that would pave the way for a hotel and more on land across from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows on Illinois 15.
Along with a hotel, the developers – Chuck Keller, his son Chane Keller and Forrest Langenfeld of Centralia – plan a Hofbrauhaus brew pub, other restaurants, a convention center and a gas station/convenience store.
Supporters say the project will raise Belleville’s profile in the region by attracting the Hofbrauhaus, which would be the only one in the area and just the eighth one in the country, and it would boost the economic outlook for the Shrine. Critics have questioned the need for another TIF in a city that currently has 18 such districts, as well as the city’s vetting of the developers.
The developers said the project may cost up to $60 million to get off the ground, up from an initial estimate of $50 million. It could produce up to $500,000 in annual sales tax revenue for the city. A majority of City Council members have previously said they support the project. The tax incentives total $15.69 million, with $6 million coming from the TIF plan to be voted on Tuesday night.
The developers and representatives from the Shrine are expected to attend Tuesday’s vote, said Eckert, who is unable to attend the meeting but will be available via the Internet if aldermen have questions for him. The meeting will be in City Hall at 101 S. Illinois St.
“I believe this project brings great potential to the city of Belleville developing the Route 15 corridor,” Eckert said. “I believe this project helps strengthen and sustain the National Shrine of Our Lady of Snows, which is extremely important to Belleville.”
In February, the City Council approved a development agreement with the Keller family and Langenfeld.
Here’s a breakdown of the tax incentives offered to the developers, who formed a Missouri corporation called Missionary Ventures for this project:
▪ The TIF would give property tax rebates of $6 million, which would take an estimated 16 years to accrue.
▪ The business district allows a 1 percent sales tax to be collected at the complex. The developers would receive $7.13 million over 23 years.
▪ The developers would receive $2.56 million in hotel tax rebates over a 16-year period.
These three incentives total $15.69 million.
Also, the developers could get a $1.25 million sales tax exemption on building materials.
The city will spend more than $2 million to extend sewer lines to the site.
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate is the religious order that oversees the Shrine and would lease the land to the developers, who say they need the tax incentives for their financing.
For the city to collect $500,000 in annual sales tax revenue from the site, the following businesses would need to be operating: one hotel, a convention center, the Hofbrauhaus and four restaurants and a gas station with convenience store.
“Our risk is extremely low and our gain is extremely high,” Eckert said.
At a glance
▪ The Belleville City Council will vote Tuesday night on a TIF plan that would provide $6 million in tax incentives to the developers of the land across Illinois 15 from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.
▪ Developers say the cost of getting the shrine development off the ground could be as high as $60 million.
▪ The development could produce up to $500,000 in additional sales tax revenue for the city.