City attributes changes in retail to growing economy

By Erin Kolb

Recent retail changes speak to the quality of the city’s economy, said city manager Mark Biernacki.

“From a retail perspective, we’ve had various closings but also a variety of openings,” Biernacki said. “I wouldn’t call the economy healthy, but it’s certainly not retracting like it was back in 2007 to 2008.”

Roger Hopkins, President of Hopkins Solutions LLC, said this knowledge is shown through sales tax revenue numbers. Hopkins is an economic development consultant.

“When I look at retail sales tax revenue for the city of DeKalb, we’re up from a year ago,” Hopkins said. “All in all, we’re still holding our own, which is good. The economy is still gradually growing.”

Hopkins said the city lost money when a DeKalb-Sycamore area car dealership moved from DeKalb to Sycamore, taking tax revenue with it. In the future, Hopkins said he would like to bring this industry back to DeKalb.

“Hopefully we can recapture some of the revenue within the new and used auto business,” Hopkins said. “Car dealerships, furniture stores, anything in women’s apparel and accessories or men’s apparel are our targets.”

Hopkins said that along with the car dealership, DeKalb is also losing Caribou Coffee and a Deals store on Sycamore Road. Hopkins said this is because the shopping center they are in is about 10 years old, and the owners are at the end of their leases.

Hopkins said some new businesses are improving the economy, including a CVS and the Ulta Cosmetics that opened in 2012 in DeKalb. Lukulos’ old location at the corner of Annie Glidden Road and Lincoln Highway is set to become a Dunkin’ Donuts and Jersey Mike’s sandwich shop. Hopkins said it will open in April or May.

Mayor Kris Povlsen hopes this economic improvement will continue.

“I want to continue to see stores come in,” Povlsen said. “We’re definitely going to see stores close, but fortunately, I think we’ve seen as one store closes, another one shows an opportunity. We lost Olive Garden, but I feel very confident that in the near future we’ll see something that wants to come into that retail space there and create new shopping opportunities for our residents.”

Hopkins said the construction on Annie Glidden Road past Schnuck’s is the beginning of a Hampton Inn hotel.

“A hotel will do quite well here,” Hopkins said. “We have no good business-class hotels anywhere in the DeKalb-Sycamore area other than the Country Inn in Sycamore and the Holiday Inn. Both of those are 10 to 12 years old, and the Hampton Inn will certainly make the area more attractive for people who need hotel rooms.”

Hopkins said the hotel is supposed to be completed in August or September.