City Council met Monday to discuss planning of Olive Garden, construction of Police Station


T.J. Moore, Director of Public Works, gives an update on the construction of the new police station at DeKalb City Council on Monday night.

By Michael Bergeron

DeKalb City Council met Monday night to discuss the terms of the Olive Garden development and the construction progress of the new police station.

Darden Restaurants is looking to redevelop an about 5,700 sq. feet area currently owned by Small’s Furniture City, 2211 Sycamore Road. The project will be funded with a forgivable loan for $900,000 from the city’s Central Area Tax Increment Finance (TIF) funds.

The council currently expects the TIF loan to see returns within 4.5 years. Additionally, the council placed a condition on the loan that Darden Restaurants must provide at least 55 full-time positions.

Based on the city’s Shopping Behavior Survey in 2011, over one-third of participants identified Olive Garden as the most desirable businesses for DeKalb to introduce to the city.

Fourth Ward Alderman Brendon Gallagher said he hoped that by bringing Olive Garden to the shopping district of DeKalb, area businesses will see an increase in sales by association.

third Ward Alderwoman Kristen Lash said that for the past several years, Small’s Furniture City has been in the process of going out of business, which has been hindering the revenue stream that could be made through the real estate and sales tax.

Progress on the project is currently dependant on cooperation between Darden Restaurants and NIU regarding the NIU Art Annex property. NIU owns land in the area near the project which will be used for the development of the Olive Garden. The property currently owned by NIU will need to be converted into a parking lot for the development of the restaurant.

A status report of the newest DeKalb Police station was given by Police Chief Gene Lowery.

Lowery said the site work is completed and the estimated interest rate of the construction grant has decreased. Bids for pre-casting have been made, and the framework will be completed within the following three to four weeks. A potential surplus of $700,000 may be saved on the project based on the reduction of costs and interest rates, Lowery said.

The council voted in favor of having a discussion to determine how the potential funds will be allocated at the next council meeting.

A report on the first quarter of FY2013 and a Corn Fest expense report were presented to the council.

The reports indicated the projected revenue gain for DeKalb is currently around $2.4 million, but will change based on new billing cycles used by area vendors.

Corn Fest 2012 shows an expenditure of about $51,000 with a net loss to the city of about $34,000. The report attributes the low amount pf money raised, about $17,000, to weekend weather conditions.

The council also heard from Feyt Productions Producer Shela Lahey regarding the success of Wired: The DeKalb Documentary.

Lahey said she received great feedback from the community. She said she hopes to work with the council to host more showings of the film at the Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St. According to an April 23 Northern Star article, the council had voted 7-0 in favor of contributing $20,000 to the production of the film.

Second Ward Alderman Tom Teresinski announced he would not be seeking another term as alderman.