Realizing the vision: Gateway Project breaks ground in Dixon

Legislators announce $2 million in additional grants for infrastructure

Dixon City Councilman Mike Venier introduces the first speaker Thursday during a ceremony to mark the groundbreaking of the Dixon Gateway project. The project is aimed at bringing in new business at the I-88 corridor in Dixon.

DIXON — Developers broke ground on a major commercial project for the Interstate 88 corridor Thursday, and local legislators announced $2 million in grants to go toward infrastructure.

The Gateway Project will bring a new hotel, gas station, restaurants and shops to the Interstate 88 corridor on 27 acres along South Galena Avenue across from Walmart between Keul and Bloody Gulch roads with plans to include the construction of a dozen buildings.

Dixon Mayor Li Arrellano Jr. speaks Thursday about the Gateway Project groundbreaking in Dixon. “All those dominoes falling into place truly, truly took a team effort,” Arellano said.

More than 3 years in the making, the project went from an idea to a vision to a reality after working with developers, landowners, and state and local government officials, Mayor Li Arellano Jr. said.

“All those dominoes falling into place truly, truly took a team effort,” Arellano said.

The project is expected to create more than 600 jobs and $1 million a year in new tax revenue.

Dixon City Manager Danny Langloss gestures while saying what an exciting time it is to live and be part of the Dixon community during the Gateway project groundbreaking on Thursday.

It’s being developed by Xsite Real Estate of Burr Ridge and Walsh Partners of Elmhurst. Xsite is the developer of Presidential Parkway Plaza, the four-building project north of Walmart along the south side of Keul Road. The city, the Lee County Industrial Development Association and Sauk Valley Bank are also partners in the project.

Charlie Walsh of Walsh Partners said the city welcomed the project with open arms, and he was speechless with gratitude for the support they’ve received.

Developer Charlie Walsh talks Thursday about how exciting it is to work in a community that is so embracing.

There hasn’t been a problem too big to solve, and there’s always an attitude of “we’ll figure it out” by city officials, said Brett Paul, of Xsite.

“We’re going to have some very successful businesses here,” Paul said.

Site work to level the ground will take place in May, a yet-to-be-named hotel will likely break ground in July as well as the other buildings this summer.

Brett Paul of Xsite Real Estate discusses the planning and efforts that went into the Gateway project in Dixon during the ground breaking Thursday.

The city expects to begin infrastructure work for a road and other improvements in mid- to late-July. Costs are estimated to be around $4 million, with the bulk of funding coming from grants.

“It’s amazing to be part of this team and see Dixon work toward its full potential,” City Manager Danny Langloss said. “It’s going to be transformational for the I-88 corridor, and we’re going to create more and more successes.”

In 2020, the city won a $1 million grant from the Opportunity Zone program for the work along with a $1 million local match, which will come from one of two new tax increment financing districts the city created that includes the Gateway footprint.

State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, and state Sen. Brian Stewart, R-Freeport, announced that they will each be securing $1 million capital grants for city infrastructure. The grant agreements are being worked out.

For many people coming to town, the I-88 corridor is the city’s front door, and the development will help foster good impressions to thousands and pay dividends to the city for years to come, Demmer said.

“This is going to leverage positive change to the community we all share,” he said.

State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, talks about the new project Thursday in Dixon.  Demmer and state Sen. Brian Stewart, R-Freeport, announced that they will each be securing $1 million capital grants for city infrastructure.

The city has long sought after opportunities to open up further development in south Dixon.

In October, the City Council approved annexation agreements across 657 acres — including land for the Gateway Project — after years of working with landowners and developers to open up new opportunities in the area.

The Gateway Project will be in the recently established Fargo Creek TIF, which has boundaries roughly covering First Street to the north, Peoria and Chicago avenues to the east, I-88 to the south, and Depot Avenue and Pump Factory Road to the west. The other is the Industrial Park TIF south of I-88, between South Galena Avenue and U.S. Route 52.

“There has never been a more exciting time to be in Dixon,” Langloss said.

Kevin Marks says a few words about the efforts that went in to planning the project during the groundbreaking on Thursday in Dixon.

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Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.