Mayor Mark Eckert talks about Hofbräuhaus
The opening of the Hofbräuhaus restaurant and brew pub in Belleville has been pushed back to Thanksgiving, and roadwork improvements must be made to the Illinois 15 and DeMazenod Drive intersection before the site’s first hotel can be built across from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.
“In a perfect world, you’d like to click your fingers and it’s all done, but it takes time,” Mayor Mark Eckert said. “We’re making progress.”
Along with the Hofbräuhaus and hotels, the site also may get other restaurants, a convention center, an 11-field multisports center and a gas station.
Eckert, who has shepherded about $38 million in a series of tax incentives based on revenue generated at the site, said finishing the project valued at $100 million is “complicated” because it has “so many moving parts.” The city estimates that when the center is complete, it would bring in about $1 million in sales tax revenue to the city.
In a perfect world, you’d like to click your fingers and it’s all done, but it takes time. We’re making progress.
Mayor Mark Eckert
The Hofbräuhaus and hotel developers, Chuck Keller and his sons of Effingham, had planned to announce the first two hotels for the site on March 3 but instead they had to say the hotel company was not ready to go public. Now, nearly three months later, the Keller family has yet to reveal the brand name of the first hotels planned for the site but their financial consultant, Forrest Langenfeld, said an announcement will be made soon.
The developers are in talks with Illinois Department of Transportation about the improvements required at the intersection before a hotel can open. Neither Eckert nor Langenfeld could release details of the roadwork planned but they said it will involve adding turn lanes to the intersection, which already has a traffic light.
Eckert said a cost estimate of the roadwork has not been finalized but he said it could be $1 million.
Langenfeld said the developers expect to pay for the roadwork. Eckert said using TIF money produced in the center is “certainly something down the road that we could consider” to help pay for roadwork. Also, the city asked Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office and local lawmakers to consider authorizing state money for roadwork improvements near the complex.
Joseph Monroe, the operations engineer for the Illinois Department of Transportation district that includes the metro-east, also said he could not release details of the roadwork plans.
“It’s still a work in progress,” Monroe said. “We’re working closely with the city.”
All of the parties involved met May 20 to discuss the proposed roadwork.
Langenfeld said the developers want to “have a safe and appropriate entry way” onto the complex.
About 30,000 vehicles travel on Illinois 15 each day past the Hofbräuhaus site, according to IDOT records. The agency compiles crash statistics for Illinois roads but those were not immediately available for this intersection.
As the project grows, a second entrance to the center is expected to be built off Illinois 157, Eckert said.
However, the roadwork is not necessary for the Hofbräuhaus to open, the mayor said. Construction began on the 25,000-square-foot restaurant late last year.
When you have a development of this size, things never go as fast as everybody wants.
Forrest Langenfeld, financial consultant for Hofbräuhaus developers
Plans for the complex were first announced in early 2015.
The Kellers originally targeted a June 1 opening for the Hofbräuhaus. They obtained the only St. Louis metro area franchise from the parent company in Munich, Germany.
“We feel this project has a lot of merit for the economic development of Southwestern Illinois and we feel it has a chance to bring people from the St. Louis side of the river over here to Illinois,” Eckert said.
The delays in getting the hotel and the Hofbräuhaus projects off the ground also have pushed back the opening of the soccer complex planned by Kansas City-based Game On Sports Development. The 11-field complex was initially expected to open in September but now it is expected to open in 2017.
“When you have a development of this size, things never go as fast as everybody wants,” Langenfeld said.
“The infrastructure pieces themselves are very immense and very time consuming,” he said. “It drives everybody crazy. Everybody wants them to start yesterday. The Kellers want to be open. The city wants tax money flowing in.
“But doing it right is absolutely the most important part of this process.”