JB’s a reminder of Elgin’s lost businesses

Aug. 8 8:20 p.m.

The construction at the intersection of McLean Boulevard and Route 20 in Elgin has been going on for so long I can’t even remember what the intersection looked like before it got torn up. The Dunkin’ Donuts shop, Liberty Tax Service with the dancing Statue of Liberty, and at least 10 other business have all been torn down.

The bridge over Route 20 is literally a pile of rubble where the road crossed over McLean Boulevard to the south. To the north some progress has been made with a turn lane right through what used to be a Shell service station owned by Tung Tran. He lost his gas pumps, but the state let him keep his convenience store. The State of Illinois seemed to think that he could keep it open even though the only reason customers stopped in was because they were purchasing gas. According to reports, the state finally gave in and purchased his entire station after a fight.

Directly to the north from where the Shell service station stood, is a giant empty parking lot. JB’s Pub and Pizza unfortunately has been torn down. Owner Jim Bollman was hoping to work with the city to save his business, but according to Elgin city code, the local tavern was 10 parking spaces short and could not remain open. The “Beer Garden” area was initially torn down to make way for more parking.

Bollman was hoping interested buyers could take over the building and make it into something profitable, but to no avail. JB’s is nothing but a sea of asphalt at the corner of Lillian and McLean. Alas it is one more business loss at the corner of Route 20 and McLean.

The biggest tragedy in this story is that JB’s owner was able to purchase a 17,000 square-foot building formally home to Long Island Sound Banquet hall on New York Street in Aurora. Yes, you read that correctly Aurora. Couldn’t the city of Elgin have given Bollman some incentives to reopen elsewhere in Elgin? After all he did operate his establishment in Elgin for 33 years.

The pile of scrap and wood initially left of JB’s Pub has now been hauled away. The emptiness in that entire area is truly disgusting. What was the point of losing so many tax paying business for road improvements? Are there plans to redevelop the area once the road work is completed?

With so many changes at that specific intersection and the construction taking so long to complete, I can’t even imagine what it is going to look like once it is finished. We certainly could use another Donut Shop, Service Station, or locally owned and operated Pub to fill in the gaps left behind by the construction project that seems like it is never going to end.