E. Dundee wants more details before Anvil Club funding OK
By Erin Sauder For Sun-Times Media October 22, 2013 10:18AM
Updated: November 24, 2013 6:23AM
EAST DUNDEE — While village trustees have not yet said “yes” to using tax increment finance funds for renovations to the Anvil Club, some agreed they aren’t ruling it out either.
At Monday night’s village board meeting, trustees voted in favor of considering reimbursement for future expenditures at the private downtown supper club. Trustee Allen Skillicorn cast the lone vote against the resolution.
Before the vote was taken, some board members expressed concern that Anvil Club representatives had not gotten back to them with more information about how the funds would be used.
Anvil Club officials are trying to boost their membership and recently were before the board asking for about $300,000 in the form of TIF (Tax Increment Financing) funds for renovations on the Meier Street building.
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 the village. According to the program, buildings with more than 150 linear feet of street frontage will be offered a grant not to exceed $75,000.
Anvil Club officials said remodeling the building’s exterior will cost $300,000, and they are asking village officials for half of that since the restaurant sits on three streets in the village.
“There hasn’t been information provided to us,” Trustee Robert Gorman said. “I’m not convinced it’s forthcoming since it’s been a month or two.”
Village Administrator Bob Skurla said the reason trustees have not yet received specifics on the plan is because Anvil Club ownership “might be changing dramatically.”
“And that new ownership group, if you will, is going to be sitting down with me in the next week,” he said. “I believe they are going to be moving very quickly expending funds (for renovations).”
Gorman asked Skurla if the concerns by trustees were being passed along to Anvil Club representatives.
“Are you messaging back to them that we don’t see a viable business model at this point?” he said. “We’re going to need more. If it’s a new ownership group, I’d be very interested in how that might impact investment there.”
Skurla said the potential new owners “are very cognizant” of the concerns. He reminded trustees that voting “yes” on the resolution does not obligate the village to give the restaurant any funding.
“It’s just an indication to the Anvil Club that, ‘If you are doing anything you presented, we might have an interest in participating,’ ” Skurla said. “I would like the board to adopt this. I think it sends the message that this project is central to our downtown and that we’re willing to listen.”
Trustee Jeff Lynam agreed.
“By voting it down, we could be risking sending a message we’re not willing to work with them,” he said. “And if it goes under, that poses another challenge for us.”
But Skillicorn said that could happen anyway.
“My fear is the business model doesn’t change and (the Anvil Club) still ends up leaving in a few years,” he said.
Village President Lael Miller said more specific information is needed about the project.
“Obviously, we need to see the numbers, the plan, what the investment is and where the dollars are going,” he said. “But I think it’s important we send a clear message we are certainly interested in considering this as an important part of our downtown. The point of this (resolution) is to simply state we will considering redevelopment with them. We’ve always done this in advance of actual numbers coming in.”