DeKALB – The owners of Hillside Restaurant are asking the city for money to replace their sewer system after it was accidentally damaged by crews working on the Egyptian Theatre expansion next door, and say downtown construction has severely affected their ablity to do business.
The owners, Mary and Gavin Wilson, are requesting $12,200 in tax increment financing funding. Mary Wilson, who spoke out against the Palmer Court expansion before the theater expansion project was awarded a $2.5 million TIF grant in February, said she and her husband have been dealing with fallout from construction since it began in May.
"We've been a little overwhelmed," Wilson said. "There's just too much going on. Today lumber from Pappas closed the street down. I'm just thankful we had the kind of loyalty we have with customers."
City Manager Bill Nicklas said an independent contractor working for Commonwealth Edison in Palmer Court was excavating old underground power lines and snagged a lateral sewer line connecting to Hillside, requiring emergency repair at the contractor's expense. Hillside Restaurant has remained open despite the construction setbacks.
"It was torn out of the ground," Nicklas said Thursday. "Normally, the insurance for the contractor kicks in and it's taken care of."
Construction across Lincoln Highway for Pappas Development's Plaza DeKalb project, a mixed use apartment and retail space, is also underway. Downtown construction also caused some reshuffling of attractions at DeKalb Corn Fest, which kicks off Friday.
Nicklas said while the repairs to the damaged lateral line will be covered by the contractor's insurance, the work revealed to the Wilsons a need for further maintenance on the building's sewer systems, and they are looking for assistance to cover the costs of replacing the entire sewer in the building.
In city documents outlining Monday's TIF proposal, Nicklas said the Palmer Court project has caused "significant loss of businesses" since construction began this summer, citing noise, dust and vibration from the excavations in Palmer Court and Plaza DeKalb affecting Hillside's walk-in business.
He said Hillside's catering team has also been affected because they aren't able to load or unload food, drink and table settings between their kitchen area and delivery truck in their usual spot in Palmer Court.
"They braved a lot of inconveniences since the project began," Nicklas said, who recommended council approve the TIF grant.