Geneva aldermen recommend TIF support for east side eatery

Riganato seeks $23,300 to cover demolition, expanding parking

GENEVA – Geneva aldermen recommended approval of a tax increment financing redevelopment agreement with an east side restaurant to cover half the cost of demolishing a building and parking lot expansion.

Acting as the Committee of the Whole, aldermen Monday unanimously supported having the TIF district pay $23,300 to the owners of Riganato Old World Grille, 700 E. State St., Geneva.

Nick Nicolaou has owned the former Rib House Restaurant since 2008 with approval for a planned unit development for site and building improvements, turning it into what is now Riganato Old World Grille.

Nicolaou completed razing a one-story retail building on the property, which formerly occupied by Dad & Me Toys, and the restoration of parking spaces lost to a enclosed rear deck addition, at a cost of $46,600, Economic Development Director Cathleen Tymoszenko said.

The owner is seeking a public-private partnership from TIF 2 for half the remaining project cost, $23,300.

“A (planned unit development) was approved in 2009 and a lot of work was done to the property, almost $700,000 worth of renovations, including acquisition costs,” Tymoszenko said. “It included retrofitting the structure and reducing the number of access driveways, creating a new parking lot – it was a mud lot when they first had it.”

The owners also demolished a barn. And there was a requirement to take down the one-story retail building, she said.

“The project was completed, but for that one remaining item,” Tymoszenko said.

In 2013, the City Council amended the planned unit development ordinance and extended the timeline for the building to be demolished, she said.

The council also allowed the modification of a rear deck, enclosing that area to allow for more customers, but that reduced the number of required parking spaces.

“They need to complete the project to comply with the planned unit development requirements. At the same time, it’s a difficult financial project because they are losing revenue from the (loss of) rental of that structure and gaining very few parking spaces in turn,” Tymoszenko said.

A tax increment finance district is a development tool where tax dollars are diverted for public improvements such as roads and sewers, demolition, professional services and financing costs.

Once established, a TIF district’s property value is frozen and anything generated from improvements or sales tax is the tax increment. State law allows a TIF district to last 23 years.

“If you look at the project as a whole, that amount of reimbursement is less than 5% of the total investment, if you include acquisition,” Tymoszenko said.

Third Ward Alderman Dean Kilburg said the owners built a successful restaurant that has turned into an east side anchor with a parking lot that is filled almost every night.

“And actually, it’s a safety consideration to have these additional parking slots because they’re currently parking customers in the wood lot across the street,” Kilburg said. “So we have customers who are running across four lanes of traffic at night to and from the restaurant.”

The City Council will take final action.