La Salle council moves to terminate agreement with brewpub

Mayor says city should try to get control of the building through court system

A view of the Maytag property building on Tuesday, April 30, 2024 in La Salle. in January 2023, The City of La Salle gave CL Real Estate Development sixteen months to complete renovations on the so-called Maytag property at 801 First Street in La Salle.

The brewpub project at 801 First St. in downtown La Salle will have to continue without economic incentives from the city, if it is to come to fruition.

The La Salle City Council terminated Monday a Jan. 9, 2023, agreement with building owner CL Enterprises after what council members said have been years of broken promises and lies.

“I believe the city should move forward in the courts to get control of the building and find a developer to fix it. No more extensions. No more excuses. I, along with many constituents and visitors, get sick to my stomach every time I drive by 801-805 First St.”

—  La Salle Mayor Jeff Grove

The 2023 agreement offered CL a tax increment financing district incentive in exchange for CL presenting a timeline to commit to completing the project. The completion deadlines, created by CL, detailed the length of each stage of renovation.

The last deadline was May 9, in which the agreement said CL should have its storefront and the six upstairs apartments finished. Neither have been completed, at this time, the council said.

CL said in a brief response late Monday it would make a full comment soon, but expressed disappointment in the council’s decision.

La Salle Mayor Jeff Grove gave a statement at Monday’s council meeting regarding his position on the project saying his remarks didn’t represent the council. He said he was disappointed the project was not completed. He said the city had hired outside counsel in late 2022 to direct it on how to handle the lack of progress and the first step was the agreement, which he was cautiously optimistic about. The brewpub has been discussed since at least November 2018, with initial projections of a fall 2019 completion, then a 2020 finish. A formal groundbreaking was held in January 2020.

“I was disappointed that no representative from CL reached out to the city to give a courtesy heads up that the project at 801-805 First St, would not be completed by May 9, 2024,” he said. “But, they took the time to answer an inquiry from the newspaper. It is convenient that, initially, I am told that Carus Chemical and CL are separate entities, but now an excuse in the newspaper stated that the delay is because of the Carus fire.”

Grove concluded his statement by thanking developers in the city that have finished their projects, and said now the agreement with CL is over, it is time to move to another option.

“I believe the city should move forward in the courts to get control of the building and find a developer to fix it,” he said. “No more extensions. No more excuses. I, along with many constituents and visitors, get sick to my stomach every time I drive by 801-805 First St.”

After Grove concluded his speech he was met with applause from the audience and received a standing ovation from Alderman Jordan Crane.

Alderman Bob Thompson said CL could have fixed the building any time it wanted. He said Carus had the money to repair its factory and made reference that La Salle had to fight for insurance money for its fire department losses following the Jan. 11 chemical plant fire. Thompson, along with other city officials, met with Carus representatives about the claim at the time, and he was disappointed with the process. Carus had said at the time, despite the delay, it didn’t intend to withhold reimbursement to the city and paid the city in full.

“It’s not the way you do business,” Thompson said. “It’s time for us to end it, so I agree with you mayor 100%.”

Alderman Jerry Reynolds offered a different approach and said he thought CL should have the opportunity to finish the project and work closely with the city to stay on target.

“My concern really is how does this make La Salle look to outside people who would like to come in here,” he said. “That we wouldn’t work or even extend our agreement.”

Nick Fox, vice president of construction and development for CL, said at the previous La Salle City Council meeting he was brought on specifically to get the La Salle location and others “kick started” and finished.

Alderman Jim Bacidore remained skeptical Monday, questioning if anything had changed.

“While they were working here, how many places have they opened? Three,” Bacidore said, making reference to other brewpubs that CL had opened in other communities.

Grove said the only reason he heard CL was interested in extending an agreement was from the shaw Local News Network article, and then asked aldermen if CL had reached out to any of them.

Reynolds said CL reached out to him to ask if the council could extend the agreement until the company could make progress on its building.

“That’s why Nick Fox was here in some way to explain their present position and they want to move on from here,” Reynolds said.

Grove disagreed.

“Nick didn’t want to talk that night,” the mayor said. “He wanted to talk about the Ameren issue and that was fine. That’s why we didn’t open it up.”

Alderman Tom Ptak said it speaks volumes that no one from CL was present at the council meeting Monday and called it disappointing.

“I really had a belief that this was going to be finished and they were going to prove to us that they mean business,” he said. “I’ve walked through the building and they’ve spent a lot of money in there.”

Ptak said he believes the council should terminate the agreement. The agreement will extend until June 13 and CL has a building permit until June 1.

“But, I also think they should come back to us because we don’t want it to sit there,” he said.

Attorney Sheryl Churney explained the agreement doesn’t terminate until June 13, because there is a formal procedure to be followed and notice requirements.

The motion to terminate the agreement passed 8-1, with Grove adding his vote. Reynolds voted no. Reynolds said he believed terminating the contract made the city look uncooperative and the move will prolong the project.

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