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Anvil Club asks E. Dundee for financial help

Representatives Anvil Club say it has been key business East Dundee for almost 60 years but needs village help continue

Representatives of the Anvil Club say it has been a key business in East Dundee for almost 60 years but needs village help to continue operation. | Erin Sauder~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 15, 2013 6:18AM

EAST DUNDEE — In order to remain viable, Anvil Club owners say they need at least $300,000 in renovations for the Meier Street building.

And they’re hoping money to fund those renovations will come from the village in the form of tax increment finance, or TIF, funds for the well-known supper club, which draws diners from throughout northeastern Illinois.

With a TIF, the amount of tax dollars received by the various local taxing bodies from district property owners is frozen. Money collected in property taxes above that amount is used to revitalize the TIF with infrastructure and other improvements.

At Monday night’s village board meeting, Craig Zachrich from the Anvil Club said the restaurant has been a key business in the village for almost 60 years.

“It has been vital in continuing to bring people to downtown East Dundee from all over the Chicago area,” he said. “Unfortunately, the recession has strained the Anvil Club. We feel it’s quite necessary for us to do some renovations to continue to be a viable business for the village.”

Before Monday’s meeting, the board received a letter from Zachrich detailing the proposal.

He said modernizing the building is key and to that end what’s needed are new bathrooms, electrical work to correct life and safety issues, fire sprinklers, HVAC and other remodeling. He also said the Anvil Club cannot afford to make those renovations without the village’s help.

Zachrich said the sales tax from the Anvil Club has generated nearly $500,000 over the last five years and that $30,000 in property taxes was paid in 2012 alone. He said that without the remodeling, he expects the assessed value of the building and land to be reduced by 55 percent.

The Anvil Club also would like to participate in the village’s facade program, designed to encourage property owners and business tenants to improve the overall exterior appearance of commercial buildings along major thoroughfares in East Dundee. Under the program, buildings with more than 150 linear feet of street frontage will be offered a grant not to exceed $75,000.

Zachrich anticipates remodeling the building’s exterior will cost $300,000, and he is asking village officials for half of that since the restaurant sits on three streets in the village.

Balking at expense

Some trustees expressed hesitancy about giving the Anvil Club that much in funding.

“One of the requirements of the TIF is that it has to be that if we didn’t do this, something would happen,” Trustee Robert Gorman said. “This to me doesn’t qualify yet for the ‘but for’ condition of the TIF. I think there needs to be something more for me to support it. I would have to understand that there’s not another alternative around this. I would want to see validation that would say but for us doing this, the Anvil Club would cease to exist.”

“I don’t have a problem helping out,” said Trustee Jeff Lynam. “But you’re asking the village for all of it. I’m concerned about what sort of precedent that might set for anybody else that says, ‘I’d like to have my business renovated as well.’ But certainly, I’m all for helping out businesses in the town. That’s part of why we’re here. As I read through the letter, I saw no involvement from Anvil Club as far as sharing in the $300,000 cost. And in addition, you’re asking double from the facade program.”

East Dundee Village Administrator Bob Skurla said the Anvil Club currently is the core of the village’s downtown.

“If we allow it to close, what will be the cost of trying to replace that venue? What’s the value of keeping that and having it be a catalyst to bring more business to the area?” he asked.

Time is of the essence for the Anvil Club, as Zachrich said the village’s upcoming construction work on Meier Street will have a “devastating” effect on the restaurant. He would like to see the remodeling occur during the construction period.

Otto Inc. President Tom Roeser, who has bought several sites in the village in order to help revamp the downtown, is urging the village to support the Anvil Club’s funding request.

“You have two anchors here — one is Diamond Jim’s and the other is the Anvil Club. Both are struggling,” he said. “The Anvil Club will go out of business if you don’t help them. And if one anchor goes out of business, then I don’t have the faith to further this. That single-use building is going to be here as an eyesore for a long time.”

Roeser said he has not asked the village for TIF funding on any of the seven properties he has purchased.

“Partly because I don’t need to take the money,” he said. “I can make this happen, but they’re not in the same boat. So give them my TIF money. They need your help, and I need you to help them.”

Village officials plan to discuss the issue again at another meeting this month.

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