YORKVILLE – Interior building renovations are well underway at a downtown Yorkville commercial building that soon will be home to a mead production facility and tap room, along with a coffee shop and residential apartments.
Foxes Den Meadery and Iconic Coffee Shop will be occupying space inside the large two-story structure at 101 S. Bridge St. (Route 47) on the northwest corner of Bridge and West Hydraulic streets, along the south bank of the Fox River.
The Williams Group is renovating the structure, known most recently as the Investor Tools building, but best identified by the “Dickson 1954″ tablet inscribed on the facade of the brick edifice.
A new sign on the south side of the building now identifies the business development as Riverside Plaza.
Even as construction continues inside the building, the Yorkville City Council has been busy changing the city’s liquor and zoning codes to accommodate the development.
In April, aldermen established a new classification of liquor license for micro-wineries, which will allow for the manufacture and consumption of mead wine on the premises.
On June 14, the City Council approved an amendment to the city’s zoning ordinance, incorporating micro-wineries into the classification used for microbreweries and brewpubs.
Foxes Den Meadery will use the building’s basement for production and the first floor for a taproom to serve the fermented beverage. Aldermen also amended the classification to eliminate the requirement for such establishments to sell food.
Mead has been produced and consumed since ancient times. The alcoholic beverage is made by fermenting honey mixed with water and often with additional ingredients including fruits or grains. The drink often is described as a honey wine.
The Class M liquor license allows for the production of less than 155,000 gallons of beer or 50,000 gallons of wine per year for sale on the premises for consumption either at the business or off-site.
The license also allows patrons to take one partially consumed bottle for consumption off the premises.
“A partially consumed bottle of wine that is to be removed from the premises shall be securely sealed by the licensee or an agent of the licensee prior to removal from the premises and placed in a transparent onetime use tamperproof bag,” under the city ordinance.
Under the Class M license, the meadery’s tap room will be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages from other manufacturers, provided these comprise less than 50% of the business’ sales.
City Administrator Bart Olson said the requirement will ensure that such establishments remain a craft facility and not a conventional tavern.
Also occupying space on the first floor will be the Iconic Coffee Shop, which has already placed its logo in a window facing Bridge Street.
Other windows on the building front remain boarded up as construction work continues inside.
There is space for another business on the first floor along with the mead tasting room and the coffee shop, while the second floor is being converted into space for two residential apartments.
The city and the Williams Group have been working on an incentive deal for the $1.6 million redevelopment project, which includes the cost of acquiring the building property and making both interior and exterior improvements.
The improvements will be eligible for reimbursement of up to 25% of the total from the city’s tax increment financing district fund, Olson said. As a further incentive, the city is waiving some building permit fees.
In exchange, the agreement calls for the development to grant property easements to the city.
One of the easements would stretch along the south bank of the Fox River from the bridge west to a point near the former post office building, now occupied by the Yorkville Parks and Recreation Department but soon to be sold for redevelopment.
The city already owns and operates Riverfront Park on the south bank of the river just east of the bridge.
The other easement would be near the northwest corner of West Hydraulic and South Bridge streets next to the building.
The highly visible location is one the city has had its eye on for the installation of a sculpture or another form of artwork.
The city does not yet have concept plans for the park or how wide the easement will be for the linear stretch of shoreline property.
However, the deal requires that the easements be agreed upon no later than the end of 2023 in order for the development to begin receiving TIF district funds.