DeKalb to vote on Olive Garden loan

Published: Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 5:30 a.m.CDT • Updated: Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 12:30 p.m.CDT

DeKALB – The DeKalb City Council will take its first vote on a proposal to loan $900,000 to Darden Restaurants so the chain owner can build an Olive Garden at 2211 Sycamore Road.

Both city and restaurant officials have said that the $900,000, which would be a forgivable loan paid out of funds generated by a city tax increment financing district, is necessary for the site. Tax increment financing is a funding mechanism used by municipalities to redevelop blighted areas, and the property is within the district.

DeKalb aldermen, who voiced support for the project at the Oct. 8 meeting, will be able to review the different costs of redeveloping the site, which city officials said were necessary.

Demolishing the Small’s Furniture City building, for instance, is estimated to cost $75,000, while building a retaining wall in the back of the property will cost $80,000. Redevelopment is estimated to cost $616,000, but city officials noted the additional wage costs and a premium Darden paid for the land.

The $900,000 forgivable loan is 20 percent of the project’s $4.5 million price tag. City officials expect the restaurant will generate $180,000 to $195,000 a year in new sales taxes, enough to cover the cost of the loan in about five years. Darden Restaurants would have seven years to pay back the loan.

The City Council also will consider ordinances that were born out of the Safe, Quality Housing Task Force.

For the past few months, aldermen have been deliberating on the best methods in cleaning up the city’s housing stock.

The proposed ordinances would allow the city to prohibit landlords from renting certain properties if those properties were the site of three or more unlawful activities within a certain time frame. If a landlord reaches “strike three,” they could face fines and interior inspections of their property, in addition to the rental ban.

The city also is exploring the option of adding property maintenance issues, such as leaky roofs or cracked walls, to the list of potential strikes against landlords.

Assistant City Manager Rudy Espiritu said this idea was discussed by the council at its special meeting Oct. 10 on housing, and it asked to see what that would look like in ordinance form.

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