La Salle council reacts to CL CEO’s project updates on Kaskaskia, brewpub

Council frustrated with a lack of action at both sites

CL Real Estate CEO Nathan Watson updated the La Salle City Council on both the proposed brewpub at the Maytag building and the Kaskaskia hotel, and council members questioned him on both projects.

Watson told aldermen Monday the Maytag project was delayed because of the COVID pandemic and issues with a contractor. Watson said there were issues keeping workers during COVID because of quarantine and fear of getting sick. CL had other issues with its contractor about work not getting done, and eventually terminated the contract and rebid the project.

Alderman Jim Bacidore asked Watson why CL didn’t terminate the contract until two years of issues had gone by with the company. Watson responded terminating contracts is complicated and expensive and the company was hopeful it could make it work.

Mayor Jeff Grove expressed concerns CL is making progress on other projects across the state and not the ones in La Salle, citing the opening of a brewpub in DeKalb that happened during COVID and was on the same timeline as the Maytag building. In response, Watson said the DeKalb building was a second generation restaurant that didn’t need nearly as much construction work.

“What is happening here in La Salle isn’t the result of a lack of will or effort, it’s a bad confluence of a difficult contract,” Watson said.

Watson told the council in 2020 CL had everything it needed for the Kaskaskia project to begin. But because of the pandemic, Watson said no bank was willing to fund a hospitality project, such as a hotel, so money for that project disappeared. Because of safety concerns, the city recently acquired a search warrant to inspect the building. The results of the inspection still are pending.

“We have done everything and we will continue to do everything to see this project done,” Watson said. “We work really hard and we spent a whole lot of money because we believe in this town and we believe in this project.”

After Bacidore continued to question Watson about CL’s ability to pay for and execute the Kaskaskia project, Watson abruptly left the council meeting.

After Watson left, the council continued to discuss both projects. Alderman Jordan Crane questioned why CL went with a different contractor for the Maytag building in the first place instead of sticking with companies it knows are reliable. Economic Development Director Leah Inman said she was disappointed Watson had not shared a timeline for either project.

Alderman Jerry Reynolds said the pressure the council has put on CL and Watson is not helping get the project done and making the company more reluctant to work with the city. Alderman Tom Ptak said Bacidore’s line of questioning that led to Watson’s early departure was “unprofessional.”

Watson said he is committed to getting both projects done. Members of the council, like Bacidore, said he is impatient after years gone by without the projects being done.

“We’re excited, but let’s see some action,” Grove said.

Deputy City Clerk Brent Bader said the council hears the residents’ concerns about the projects and will continue to have conversations and provide more updates as they come.