The Belleville City Council on Tuesday night voted 14-1 to approve a TIF plan for an Illinois 15 site where developers want to build an upscale hotel, Hofbrauhaus brew pub, other restaurants, a conference center and a gas station across the highway from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.
This was the final City Council vote in a series of tax incentives requested by developers Chuck Keller, his son Chane Keller of Effingham and Forrest Langenfeld of Centralia.
The developers, who said they could not build the complex without tax incentives, initially said the businesses would cost about $50 million to build but now believe it could be up to $60 million. The tax incentives total $15.69 million, with $6 million coming from the tax increment financing plan authorized Tuesday night.
Ward 2 Alderman Mike Buettner posted the lone “no” vote. Ward 7 Alderman Trent Galetti was absent.
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Buettner told the aldermen he has concerns about the financing of the project.
“If for some reason the financing the developers are seeking falls short or does not materialize, especially once the project begins, that the city will be approached to modify the agreement and would have to issue bonds or give back more in rebates to keep the project moving forward,” Buettner said.
“I’m all for Belleville being successful and bringing businesses to the city,” he added. “I hope that if approved this evening, this development is successful. However, I believe there is tremendous amount of liability to the taxpayers of the city. It is difficult for me to vote in favor of this when the city core is deteriorating as the city cannot sustain the infrastructure it now has.”
The only other City Council member to speak to the council before the vote was Alderwoman Janet Schmidt, who represents Ward 2 like Buettner but she urged her colleagues to vote “yes” for the TIF plan.
She believes the complex presents a “low” risk for the city.
“I think this will revitalize 15,” Schmidt said. “I do not want to be on this council in 10 years and say we should have done that because guess what? Someone else has it.”
“People want this. Please, I ask everyone on here to look in your heart and vote yes for what’s good for Belleville,” Schmidt said.
The city, which plans to spend more than $2 million to extend sewer lines to the site, could receive up to $500,000 in annual sales tax revenue from businesses in the complex.
To ratify the TIF plan, aldermen needed to approve three ordinances and each vote tally was 14-1.
Before the aldermen voted on the ordinances, 14 people spoke to the council. Most of the speakers favored the plan.
Mayor Mark Eckert, who was unable to attend the meeting but was available via the Internet, said in an interview he was “excited” for the city with the approval of this “big vote.”
Eckert said the developers are now awaiting the state’s approval of the enterprise zone proposed for this complex. If that is approved, the developers could get a $1.25 million sales tax exemption on building materials. He said the city is in contact with state lawmakers about this process. “We should be fine,” he said.
He said construction could begin in July.
Chane Keller said he looks forward to moving “full steam ahead now.”
He said the groundbreaking date will depend on how long the state approval process takes.
The Kellers and Langenfeld have not confirmed the name of the hotel they plan for the site but Eckert said that he expects them to announce that this summer.
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 and the city’s vetting of the developers.
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. This money would be paid out as the businesses pay their property taxes.
▪ 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.
The developers plan to lease the land from the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the religious order that oversees the Shrine.
The Kellers obtained a Hofbrauhaus franchise that is exclusive for the St. Louis region. The original Hofbrauhaus opened more than 400 years ago in Munich, Germany.
Other Hofbrauhaus sites in the United States are in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont; Newport, Ky., near Cincinnati; Cleveland and Columbus in Ohio; Panama City Beach, Fla.; Pittsburgh; and Las Vegas.