September 19, 2021
Local News

Geneva aldermen OK $551K TIF cash for artisan butcher shop on east side

Paul Darrow: 'We will create a real gem for the city'

GENEVA – Aldermen recommended approval of a draft agreement on a $551,000 tax increment financing redevelopment agreement Monday for improvements to allow an artisan butcher shop in the former Soukup Appliance store on State Street.

The vote was 9-0 with 4th Ward Alderman Jeanne McGowan abstaining. The measure will move to the Dec. 21 City Council meeting for final approval.

Geneva residents Paul and Laurie Darrow are under contract to buy the property at 715 E. State St., which is a mixed-use masonry building constructed in 1950, with a cinder block warehouse added in 1997, officials said. Soukup closed in 2011.

As residents of the city’s east side for nearly 20 years, Paul Darrow said, “We are excited to bring this opportunity to you.”

“We love Geneva. It is a great place to work and live and play,” Paul Darrow said. “We offer a wide breadth of products from the head to tale of a cow, hog or lamb. We do deer processing for hunters.”

They also own Country Village Meats in Sublette, which they acquired in 2018, officials said.

They updated and modernized that property, the product line and working conditions – and the Geneva property would also require a complete transformation – as the Darrows propose to create a 3,000 square foot store with areas for preparation, office and employees.

Paul Darrow said he has experience working in the food industry and his wife has experience in sales and marketing.

In addition to being an outlet for local farmers, they are known for their customer service, he said.

“You come into the shop and we talk through exactly what you want,” Paul Darrow said. “We bring out a cut of meat and cut it to the exact specifications and trim and wrap it in front of you. We distinguish ourselves with a personal touch.”

The recipes used are decades old, used by three previous family owners of the Country Village Meats in Sublette, he said.

“We have not changed a single recipe,” Paul Darrow said.

Paul Darrow said people come to Sublette from all over Illinois, frequently calling ahead to ask where is a good place for lunch while they are shopping.

“We will create a real gem for the city,” Paul Darrow said. “It’s not only good for our business, but we will attract people from all around.”

Country Village Meats in Geneva would offer a line of beef, pork,chicken, lamb and seafood, a full service deli of lunch meats, cheeses, salads, smoked meats, custom made sausages, marinated meats, custom processed quarters of beef, hog halves from local farmers and complementary spices, seasonings and sauces.

Acquisition, build out and equipment cost is nearly $2.1 million.

Costs include electric and water upgrades, asbestos removal, a new side customer door, new windows and building facade, upgraded fire safety and parking and landscaping upgrades.

To close the finance gap, the Darrows requested assistance and the recommendation is for a TIF grant in the amount of $551,402 and a donation of the public property that was previously leased for parking at this location, Economic Development Director Cathleen Tymoszenko said.

The business would be a substantial sales tax revenue generator, and would probably pay back the TIF funding by the seventh year, Tymoszenko said.

A tax increment finance district is a development tool where tax dollars are diverted for public improvements such as roads and sewers, as well as other purposes as the law allows.

Once established, a district's property value is frozen and anything generated from the improvements is the tax increment. Those funds are restricted to certain expenses, including utility upgrades, facade and site renovations and improvements to life safety and habitability for the affordable residential rental units, officials said.

Tymoszenko said the proposal meets the city’s goals for redevelopment on the east side, the Comprehensive Plan, Strategic Plan and Homes for A Changing Region Affordable Housing.

The TIF was created in 2000 and is set to expire in 2023, Tymoszenko said.

“This is why the TIF has been established and why the money is collected into the special allocation fund,” Tymoszenko said. “It will strengthen the economic base through revitalization.”

The new store is scheduled to open next spring, the investment would increase the property's equalized assessed valuation on the tax rolls as well as provide more revenue to the city as a large utility user, Tymoszenko said.

“We are not investing in a business. We are investing to make a property the right place for investment,” Tymoszenko said. “The city has only so many opportunities, so many properties. You are investing in the whole picture.”