‘Green light’: State OKs sales tax exemption for Belleville’s Illinois 15 development

Artist’s sketch of the proposed Hofbrauhaus.
Artist’s sketch of the proposed Hofbrauhaus.

Developers working on a more than $100 million hotel, Hofbrauhaus, restaurant and sports complex on Illinois 15 in Belleville have received a state sales tax exemption worth an estimated $3.85 million on the purchase of building and equipment purchases.

The total amount of tax incentives for the development is now estimated to be more than $40 million.

“This is a green light,” Mayor Mark Eckert said Thursday, noting that construction was being delayed until the state made a ruling on the exemption.

The exemption was made possible when the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity on Wednesday approved Belleville’s request to extend the city’s current enterprise zone to include the Illinois 15 site, which is across the highway from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.

Forrest Langenfeld, financial consultant for the Keller family members planning to build up to four hotels, several restaurants and the Hofbrauhaus, said building construction could begin next month. “We’re very excited,” he said.

Crews have already been preparing the site for construction.

Eckert said the state’s ruling on the enterprise zone capped a “big” week for the development because on Tuesday, the City Council approved a package of tax incentives valued at about $38 million for the site.

The city’s current enterprise zone, which allows businesses in the district to request an exemption on state sales tax on purchases for construction material, will expire next summer.

Here’s a breakdown on how the developers could save in state sales tax because of the enterprise zone:

The hotel, restaurant, Hofbrauhaus, convention center and convenience store development could save an estimated $3.6 million.

Developers of the sports complex could save up to $250,000 for construction of nine artificial turf fields, two grass fields and other sports-related construction costs. This estimate does not include construction of a restaurant at the complex.

Belleville has requested the state to authorize a new enterprise zone for the city. That request, along with 48 others across the state and metro-east, has been put on hold by the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity because of the budget impasse between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic lawmakers.

Langenfeld said enterprise zone incentives are an “extremely effective” tool for boosting economic growth in the state. “The bang for the dollar on it is very substantial,” he said, and it helps Illinois in the competition with other states.

The Keller family development is valued at $90 million while Kansas City-based Game On Sports Development plans a multi-sport complex valued at $13 million. This complex will include a restaurant and 11 soccer fields. The site is expected to hold regional soccer and lacrosse tournaments attracting visitors from up to 16 states, and the players and their families are expected to stay in the hotels developed by the Keller family of Effingham.

Belleville has agreed to extend sewer lines to the site, which will cost more than $2 million.

But Eckert notes the city will reap benefits from this investment in the form of new property tax revenue on a complex worth more than $100 million and additional sales tax revenue from the businesses.

If the site develops as planned, the city could receive $1 million a year in new sales tax revenue from a site that up until recently produced zero tax revenue for the city because it was a field owned by the religious order that runs the Shrine.

Contact reporter Mike Koziatek at or 618-239-2502. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeKoziatekBND.