DeKALB – While voicing support of the project, many City Council members, including DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith, said owners of a Chicago-based brewery are asking for too much in tax increment financing money to fund a brewery they wish to put in the building that housed The House Cafe.
Chicago-based Alulu Brewery & Pub is considering the building at 263 E. Lincoln Highway to bring in another brewery and musical venue, and went before the council Monday to present a preliminary proposal before moving forward with development plans. The developers presented the council’s Committee of the Whole with plans for consideration. They asked for a $770,000 TIF incentive agreement, more than 40% of the total project costs, estimated at $1.8 million, which may need to be amended if they wish to continue talks with the city.
Seventh Ward Alderman Tony Faivre, who supports the idea, said the council has in past years tried to keep its TIF incentive money below 30%, and suggested developers look into finding more investment from sources other than the city to help pick up the slack.
“At this point, our vision years ago was to slowly decrease the amount of TIF money we invest into projects in the downtown area,” Faivre said. “About 25% to 30% is where I’d feel comfortable investing taxpayer money into a venture right now.”
Paul Heintz, principal contact for Alulu Brewery ¶ Pub of Chicago, was on hand to discuss his plan to purchase the building from Fareed Haque, owner of the building where restaurant and performance venue The House Cafe operated before it closed its doors in April.
Heintz said the $770,000 TIF request would include purchasing costs and other expenses.
“[Plans for] the stairs, roof and elevator to the roof are the most expensive things,” Heintz said. “But we also see them as the things that will make the business the most attractive.”
Smith echoed Faivre’s remarks.
“If you could get some other local investment to bring back, I think that would put at least me in a better position to say ‘Hey, let’s move forward with a more formalized plan,’ ” Smith said.
When 4th Ward Alderman Patrick Fagan asked about time frame, the developers said they would like to see the plan complete in time for Corn Fest 2020.
According to city documents, Haque and Heintz have been in negotiations since November and approached the city in March with an idea to convert the basement and first floor area of the building into a brewpub. The concept also could include a rooftop patio and serving area. The second floor of the building would remain apartments.