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Grocery store, deli coming to Rt 53 Romeoville

Athletic and Events Center spurs economic development

Rex Robinson | 1/15/2014, 10:15 p.m.
The redevelopment of Romeoville’s downtown is starting to take shape as the new Athletic and Events Center nears completion, according ...
A worker installs a door leading into the new Romeoville Athletic and Events Center.

The redevelopment of Romeoville’s downtown is starting to take shape as the new Athletic and Events Center nears completion, according to village officials.

The goal has always been for the Romeoville Athletic and Events Center to be a catalyst to spur economic development in the downtown and village officials are confident that is now coming to fruition.

An incentive agreement came before the village board Wednesday night for a Fat Ricky’s, a 5,800-square-foot restaurant and Franconi’s Italian Grocer, a 3,025-square-foot combination grocery store and deli, for the portion of the 10-acre site at Illinois Route 53 and Phelps Avenue. Fat Ricky’s is currently within an adjacent strip center near the site, but the owner plans to now build a larger restaurant along with grocery store and deli.

“It’s one of the important out lots of that development,” Romeoville Mayor John Noak said. “It brings one of the components that we really strived for, and that is the neighborhood grocery store. It will be a very important amenity for the area.”

The Village Board on Wednesday signed off on a development incentive agreement with developers Rick DiPego, Frank Guagliardo and BG Investments, providing up to $450,000 in tax incentives as well as selling them the property for $1.

In exchange for those incentives, the developers must meet certain benchmarks or would have to reimburse the village for the incentives and the cost of the property, according to Romeoville Assistant Village Manager Dawn Caldwell. The restaurant and grocery store/deli will have to be constructed and open by January of 2015 and would have to remain operational under the same ownership for at least three years. Should the businesses be sold to another owner before the end of the three-year period, the developers would have to repay a prorated portion of the incentive back to the village, Caldwell said.

Noak said the development agreement is not uncommon within a Tax Increment Finance District.

Funding for the $12 million, 76,000-square-foot Athletic and Events Center, is coming from what is known as the Marquette TIF. TIF districts enable communities to raise money to pay for land development and construction projects. Romeoville issued government bonds to fund construction of the Athletic and Events Center and plans to pay them off from the additional tax revenue that is generated from the project over the course of 12 years. By establishing a TIF, a municipality can divert revenue from taxes levied by all the taxing districts, such as school districts, park districts and library districts to itself, in this case the Village of Romeoville. The taxes are frozen at the level established before the redevelopment for the length of the TIF.

The 10-acre site that includes the Athletic and Events Center and the proposed restaurant and combination grocery store/deli has been renamed Uptown Square. Another development along the opposite front portion of the property at Illinois Route 53 and Alexander Circle will include an 8,500-square-foot strip center that will include retail shops. That part of the development could come before the village board by the end of February or early March.

Meanwhile, interior work is progressing on the Athletic and Events Center and crews earlier this week were laying the artificial turf down for the indoor soccer field and installing the outdoor lighting in front of the building. Plans for the complex include two full size basketball courts, the soccer field that can also be used for soccer or lacrosse, as well as a room for community events and other amenities.

Noak said he looks forward to the spring when the landscaping is completed. That combined with the new lighting that ties in with outdoor lighting used at other neighboring downtown businesses will really enhance the look of the entire development, the mayor said.

Rex Robinson can be reached at rex@thetimesweekly.com.